25 March 2013
Media Release: NR/04/2013
SME Centres to Offer Businesses One-Stop Access to Government Assistance
1. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to increase their productivity and upgrade their capabilities can enjoy free business advice and greater access to government schemes with the launch of the one-stop SME Centres. The government has set aside about $30 million to run the SME Centres over three years, from April 2013 to March 2016.
2. The SME Centres, which are enhancements of the existing Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs), are among a slew of measures announced in Budget 2013 to beef up assistance for SMEs and to build a conducive environment for SMEs. Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, unveiled the logos of the SME Centres at the fifth EDC Conference today.
3. From 1 April 2013, the EDCs will be expanded into SMEs Centres and will provide the following services:
i. One-to-one advice on government schemes, guidance on grant application, business diagnosis and more in-depth advice in areas like productivity, finance, human resources and overseas expansion.
ii. Capability workshops to help SMEs learn how to improve their productivity and financial knowledge.
iii. Networking and business matching to connect SMEs with local and overseas partners.
4. To provide these services, the SME Centres will work with government agencies like SPRING Singapore, Infocomm Development Authority, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), International Enterprise Singapore, and Singapore Workforce Development Agency and partners from the private sector. These partnerships will ensure that SMEs will be linked to the relevant expertise and networks to help in their business growth.
5. Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive (Entrepreneurship & Innovation), SPRING Singapore said, “The SME Centres would be a key pillar of support for SMEs, particularly smaller companies. They need handholding to upgrade and to understand the available government assistance. We are also bringing help closer to them with plans to have satellite centres in the heartlands. Most companies start small. With assistance by the SME Centres, we hope they could survive, grow and then eventually scale to become bigger companies.”
6. The launch of the SME Centres comes amidst the backdrop of the challenging global economic landscape, tighter local labour market and rising costs. The SME Centres aim to help SMEs cope with these challenges and transform their businesses. In particular, the SME Centres will reach out to micro and small enterprises, which make up 94% of all enterprises and employ about 39% of the workforce but face challenges in improving their productivity.
7. Currently, SMEs can seek help at any of the five EDCs located at the Chinese, Indian and Malay Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation. They can also approach the satellite centre, EDC@NorthEast, which is managed by EDC@ASME.
8. More satellite SME Centres like the EDC@NorthEast will be set up to help SMEs in the heartlands and industrial estates. Together, the SME Centres and their satellites aim to provide business advice to about 60,000 SMEs over three years. They will also reach out to SME participants through public education, road shows, and capability workshops.
9. “Small businesses prefer one-to-one advice and require hands-on guidance in applying for grants as they are unsure which schemes or agencies can help. We have also been getting more enquiries on business growth areas, finance and cash flow management. We see a need to strengthen and expand the services offered by the EDCs to help SMEs identify gaps and access the relevant schemes,” said Mr Akbar Kader, Chairman of EDC@SMCCI, and the chair of the EDC Conference organising committee.
10. The SME Centres will continue to be a part of the multi-agency EnterpriseOne initiative managed by SPRING with the support of 35 partners from the public and private sectors. The EnterpriseOne initiative includes a portal which provides businesses with government information and e-services, and a call helpdesk.
11. Since 2005, the EDCs have reached out to some 70,000 SMEs through face-to-face business advisory services. Since 2011, the EDCs have collaborated with IRAS to conduct weekly half-day Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Clinics. More than 850 SMEs have benefited from these clinics, which help SMEs understand the PIC tax incentive, how it works and how to claim. To ensure that the EDCs provide quality services in a consistent manner, all five EDCs were certified to ISO 9001:2008 in February and March this year.
12. The annual EDC Conference, organised jointly by the five EDCs, is a platform for SMEs to gain insights into business management and to network. This year’s theme Go, Grow and Globalise: Step Up and Transform focuses on the need for SMEs to transform their business to compete in today’s economic environment. Mr Lim Hock Chee, CEO of Sheng Siong and Mr Steven Yeah, Executive Director of Valuemax Group Pte Ltd, shared their success stories in business transformation with some 500 participants at the conference.
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About SPRING Singapore
SPRING Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow and building trust in Singapore products and services. As the enterprise development agency, SPRING works with partners to help enterprises in financing, capability and management development, technology and innovation, and access to markets. As the national standards and accreditation body, SPRING develops and promotes an internationally-recognised standards and quality assurance infrastructure. SPRING also oversees the safety of general consumer goods in Singapore.
Please visit www.spring.gov.sg for more information and news about SPRING Singapore.
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