Small and medium enterprises (SME’s in Singapore), typically defined as organizations that employ fewer than 200 workers or have an annual turnover of less than S$200 million, are a key engine of Singapore’s economy.
While the Little Red Dot is renowned for being the Asia-Pacific (APAC) hub of multinational corporates, the truth is that small-medium enterprises contribute to 44% of total enterprise value-add and account for 72% of total employment, according to data from the Department of Statistics.
Despite their importance, the 271,000 SMEs in Singapore are more vulnerable to economic disruptions, the latest being the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, the Singapore government is taking several actions to help SMEs whether the economic impact of Covid-19. Private companies are also doing their part by providing products that allow small-medium micro-enterprises to be more agile in these trying times.
As one of the leading corporate secretaries in Singapore, Lanturn has seen a fair share of small and medium enterprises in Singapore who need support. We’ve created a list of some of the best grants, services, and products that SMEs in Singapore can take advantage of right now.
The SGUnited Traineeships programme provides fresh graduates and soon-to-be graduates with over 21,000 traineeship opportunities. The programme is designed to help them develop industry-relevant skills and prepare for full-time employment when the economy recovers. Host SMEs registered in Singapore not only get access to a fresh pool of talent but they also get to avail of subsidised compensation—the programme will pay 80% of each trainee’s allowance.
To qualify, host organizations must be registered or incorporated in Singapore and provide documentation describing the traineeship roles and development opportunities of each in their respective companies.
P-Max is a place-and-train programme under Workforce Singapore that connects professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) with suitable roles in SMEs. The programme provides up to 90% funding support to SMEs, which only need to pay the 10% net course fees for their respective SME and PMETs workshops. SMEs will also receive a one-time Assistance Grant of S$5,000 after successfully retaining newly-recruited PMETs for six months.
To qualify, SMEs must be registered or incorporated in Singapore and have hired a PMET within the last three months before enrollment into the programme. They must also offer a gross monthly salary of at least $2,500
Enterprise Development Grant
The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) is designed to help SMEs build their internal capabilities across three key areas:
- Core capabilities – This includes business strategy and strategic brand management
- Innovation and productivity – This covers product development and process redesign
- Market access – Includes pilot projects and mergers and acquisitions
SMEs severely affected by Covid-19 can get as much as 90% government grants to defray the cost of qualified projects. The regular support level is 80%. Qualifying SMEs must be registered in Singapore, have at least 30% local shareholding, and be financially capable to run the project.
Apply for tax incentives
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) offers tax reliefs for new start-up companies in Singapore for the first three years of tax assessments. From 2020 and onwards, qualifying SMEs can avail of a 75% tax exemption on the first S$100,000 of chargeable income and an additional 50% on the subsequent S$100,000 of normal chargeable income.
The tax incentive is available to all new SMEs in Singapore, except companies that are primarily involved in investment holding and companies that undertake property development for sale, investment, or both.
Productivity and Solutions Grant (PSG)
The Productivity and Solutions Grant (PSG) assists SMEs looking to digitalise their processes and adopt IT solutions, such as:
- Digital collaboration tools
- Virtual meeting and telephony solutions
- Queue management systems
- Temperature screening solutions
From April 2020 to September 2021, SMEs can receive up to 80% in funding support for eligible business costs.
Start Digital Pack
Launched in 2019, the Start Digital Pack allows newly-founded SMEs to leverage two digital solutions, with costs waived, in five key areas:
- Human resource management
- Digital marketing
- Digital payments
SMEs can commit to up to two solutions for a minimum of 18 months and have costs waived during the first six months of their use. Lanturn corporate secretary promotion
Singapore law requires new companies to appoint a corporate secretary, an officer who is responsible for creating and managing the organization’s sensitive documents. However, a corporate secretary’s functions can be outsourced.
Lanturn offers a corporate secretary service on a digital platform. The service links companies with a named secretary and leverages digital solutions such as cloud storage for all key documents, including bank statements, incorporation documents, and corporate solutions. The solution also enables businesses to consolidate their paperwork to comply with all tax, accounting, and regulatory deadlines.
SMEs can avail of a limited-time promotion that gives them an additional two months of service on a 12-month contract at no extra cost—a savings of 16%.
Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB)
The Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) seeks to uplift businesses in Singapore by boosting their digital capabilities. At present, the Digital Resilience Bonus is offered to SMEs in the Food Service and Retail sectors—businesses adversely affected by lockdown protocols under Covid-19. The DRB programme provides qualifying SMEs with payouts of up to $10,000.
The DRB also provides SMEs in these sectors with the following digital solutions:
- PayNow Corporate & e-Invoicing
- Accounting and HR/payroll solutions
- Digital Ordering for dining and takeaways
- Inventory Management
- e-Commerce, e-Procurement and Food Delivery Platforms
- Data Mining and Analytics
Temporary Bridging Loan (TBL)
The Temporary Bridging Loan (TBL) Programme allows SMEs to borrow up to S$5 million at an interest rate capped at 5%. The Singapore government will cover 90% of risk-sharing for new applications from 8 Apr to 31 Mar 2021.
To qualify, SMEs must be registered and physically present in Singapore, have at least 30% local shareholding, and be financially capable to run the project.
Skills Future Enterprise Credit (SFEC)
The SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) programme seeks to transform enterprises and their workforce through credits for upskilling. Eligible SMEs will receive a one-off credit of S$10,000 to cover up to 90% of expenses on qualifying costs.
The SFEC requires that S$3,000 of the credit should be used for workforce transformation programmes while the other S$7,000 can be allocated towards enterprise transformation initiatives. To qualify, SMEs must have contributed at least S$750 Skills Development Levy over the qualifying period and have employed at least three Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents every month over the same period. They must also have not previously qualified for SFEC
MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant
Specifically designed for SMEs in the FinTech sector, the MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant is a S$6 million grant scheme that supports Singapore-based FinTech firms amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grant scheme is composed of two parts:
- A business sustenance grant, which provides FinTech SMEs with wage support—up to S$2,000/month for each local staff and S$1,000 for local staff for six months. SMEs can also receive up to S$4,000 to cover office rent for a similar period.
- A business growth grant, which provides funding of up to 70% of the company’s qualifying costs and 100% of internship funding.
Qualifying SMEs must be registered and operating in Singapore at least three months before applying for the grant. They must also have at least two core activities in Singapore and be a certified member of the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA).
SMEs should take the time to consider each grant, service, and product and look at the bigger picture of how these opportunities can help them drive growth in these uncertain times. This way, they can identify the most relevant grants and services to dive into.
Get the support you need
In the competitive business world, time is money. Any grant or bonus that can help you save on valuable resources is one worth looking into. These solutions can help you gain the momentum you need to last past the pandemic and build a thriving organization.
Whether you’re looking to access capital quickly, engage in third party help, or adopt new digital business solutions, there’s bound to be a solution for you. And if you’re an early-stage startup, small company, or asset management firm with more questions about Singapore’s business landscape, you can always get in touch with Lanturn today.
Lanturn is a corporate secretary and business service provider that offers a wide range of support. With our virtual CFO service, for example, you can easily create financial forecasts, develop projections, and design new, forward-thinking strategies—allowing you to properly budget for other areas of the business. If you’re looking for financial assistance, you can also get in touch to receive our Grants Starter Kit—it’s a comprehensive list of the currently-available grants in Singapore!