SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH   |   6 minute read

COVID-19: Timely and much-needed support for SMEs in the Little Red Dot

Get the lowdown on the latest announcements on special grants and programmes to help SMEs through this unprecedented crisis.

Let’s get digital

As Singapore continues to lead the fight against COVID-19, it’s the perfect time for small businesses to look at new ways to not just survive—but thrive. For forward-thinking enterprises, digital appears to be the answer.

Why digital?

It helps companies to:

  • Streamline their processes and operations
  • Become more efficient and agile
  • Enhance their bottom line and resilience

As a result, business continuity becomes less like wishful thinking and more of a reality.

Great, where do I start?

For SMEs in Singapore, there are government programs and funding freely available to help digitally transform your business. In fact, Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the government agency that champions enterprise development, has enhanced several schemes to encourage SMEs to tap into the world of digital.

COVID-19: Timely and much-needed support for SMEs in the Little Red Dot

These include its:

  • Enterprise Development Grant
  • Productivity Solutions Grant  
  • E-Commerce Booster Package 
  • Multichannel eCommerce Platform Program

You’ll find summary details and links for these support measures below. However, please don’t dilly. Nor dally. Start applying today.

Enterprise Development Grant

Companies that thrive tend to have efficient processes in place. They will also have adopted technology and implemented a clear strategy for growth, often by overseas expansion. 

The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) supports such businesses, through three key pillars:

  • Core Capabilities - To help businesses prepare for growth and transformation by strengthening their business foundations. 
  • Innovation and Productivity - To  embrace technology to enhance efficiency, for example by automating workflows and processes. 
  • Market Access - To help Singapore companies expand overseas. 

The EDG provides funds towards project costs, namely third-party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower. Recently, the support level was raised to 80% until the end of this year.

More details here.

Never let a good crisis go to waste."
As Sir Winston Churchill told the UK back in the day, and Rahm Emanuel advised the US decades later, never pass up an opportunity to do things you think you couldn't do before. This is never truer than now.

COVID-19: Timely and much-needed support for SMEs in the Little Red Dot

Productivity Solutions Grant

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen to adopt IT solutions and equipment to enhance their business processes. As well as funding, it provides proven tools and systems already used by various Singapore government agencies and bodies.

In the light of COVID-19, the PSG was expanded recently to assist with business continuity through the supply and assistance with:

  • Online collaboration tools 
  • Virtual meeting and telephony tools 
  • Queue management systems 
  • Temperature screening solutions

More details here.

We want to empower all retailers to develop long-term and sustainable e-commerce strategies that will ensure business resilience beyond Covid-19." 
— Ted Tan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore.

eCommerce Booster Package

The E-Commerce Booster Package was launched this month to help SMEs sell online. Its aims are two-fold:

Domestic eCommerce — It supports local retailers, including heartland enterprises, to expand their reach across Singapore – in partnership with Amazon, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10, and Shopee.


Overseas eCommerce — It supports local retailers with little or no prior experience in exporting products to sell overseas – through the Multichannel E-Commerce Platform Programme (see below).

This scheme covers 90% of the costs (up to S$9,000) for retailers to set up on an approved eCommerce platform. In addition, manpower can be provided to help curate and list products, fulfill orders, analyze sales data, and with promotional campaigns.

More details here.

Driving an omnichannel strategy will be paramount in this highly dynamic landscape.”
— The Nielsen “COVID-19: Where consumers are heading?” Survey, March 2020

Multichannel eCommerce Platform Programme

The Multichannel eCommerce Platform (MEP) Programme connects SMEs with approved solution providers.  It helps manufacturers, retailers, and distributors sell their products overseas on multiple e-marketplaces, including CombineSell, SELLinALL, Synagie, and Vinculum.

The MEP Programme can assist you with:

  • End-to-end packages by appointed providers to gain rapid entry to new markets via multiple overseas e-marketplaces
  • Digital marketing support to increase brand value and drive traffic on e-commerce platforms
  • Relevant training to run an eCommerce business (working alongside a designated training partner, Singapore Institute of Retail Studies).

From now until 30th September 2020, you can apply for a one-time rebate of 90% (up from 70%). In addition, you can apply for up to 90% of the manpower costs (three staff, for three months) to help you set up and streamline your operations.

More details here.

COVID-19: Timely and much-needed support for SMEs in the Little Red Dot

Three months from now, where do you see your business?

With COVID-19 circuit breaker measures in place, life for many in Singapore is now severely restricted. Schools and offices are closed, social gatherings are banned, bars, and restaurants and hawker centers can only offer takeaway or deliver services.

In the retail sector, Singaporeans have been asked to venture out only for essential items. Even then, they must wear a mask to enter a mall, shop, or marketplace. And for online grocery orders, finding a delivery slot is extremely hard to come by.

Availability, regardless of channel, is therefore key. 

After all, if your customers aren’t able to order from you online, another retailer is just a few clicks away. Even more worrying, when you do have their items in stock, how can you be sure your customers will return?

What is our data telling us

The good news is that our own data demonstrates the resilience of the Singapore market. The charts below show order and GMV (gross merchandise volume) by week from January to April 2020 to date. Across both measures the trend line is consistent, so be sure to get your piece of the online spending pie.

covid19-sgedition-weekly-orders-graph01

covid19-sgedition-weekly-gmv-graph01

And finally, 

Sure, these are worrying times. On the plus side, we have now more time than ever before.  More time to spend with the immediate family. More time to call loved ones. And more time to think about making a difference—whether it’s at a personal, business, or society level.

So, hang on in there. Together, we’ll get through this. Meanwhile, take care and stay healthy.

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