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What Are SME Centres And How Do They Help Businesses in Singapore? Smart Towkay Partners with SMCCI
What Are SME Centres And How Do They Help Businesses in Singapore?
Nobody ever said that running a business was easy. In light of today’s challenges - not just in navigating through one of the worst economic recessions in history, but also the accelerated changes made to the business landscape as a result of the enforced distance between people - keeping a business afloat might just be harder than ever.
Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are particularly vulnerable, and while a host of support measures have been rolled out both by the Singapore Government and the private sector, it can be difficult for SMEs to expend the resources needed to sift through all the information about potential support.
As such, while SME Centres were first introduced in 2013 – long before the current economic crisis – they have an increasingly important role to play in supporting the survival and continued development of SMEs.
How did SME Centres come about?
SME Centres were established by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) in partnership with five trade associations and chambers: Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI), Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI), the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME), and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF).
These trade associations and chambers have largely similar aims in developing local enterprises, albeit representing their respective segments of the business community. The Singapore Manufacturing Federation, for instance, is the largest national organisation representing the interests of manufacturing and manufacturing-related industries, serving the manufacturing community by driving digitalisation, innovation-led productivity, business transformation and internationalisation towards enhancing the competitiveness of its member companies.
How do SME Centres help businesses?
SME Centres are staffed with business advisers (Business Enablers) who engage actively with SMEs on their business concerns to provide customised solutions and business advisory on their business processes. Twelve SME Centres supported by Enterprise Singapore have been set up across Singapore and they have assisted more than 30,000 SMEs last year on their business concerns and their business continuity measures in this pandemic climate.
Their purpose is to help businesses on their digital transformation journey, digital capability, legal advice and provide business advisory on digital solutions and government assistance schemes
Some of the services that SME Centres provide are:
· 1-1 business advisory and diagnosis in areas like productivity, finance, human resources, and overseas expansion.
· One-stop advisory on government schemes, guidance on grant application in Business Grants Portal
· Capability workshops to help SMEs learn how to improve their productivity and financial knowledge.
· Networking and business matching to connect SMEs with local and overseas partners.
Provide Business Diagnostic and advice on Business Upgrading and Business Operations accordingly
A specific example of a service provided is a new pilot introduced in March 2021, where SMEs will be able to get in-depth specialist advice from SME Centres, starting with the areas of business diagnosis, financial advisory and digitalisation.
In addition, SME Centres also help to group SMEs who face common business challenges or are situated in the same vicinity together into a Group-Based Upgrading project (GBU).
These SMEs will then be able to pool resources and ideas together to solve common problems together. As an expected response to the current business climate, most SMEs involved in these Group-Based Upgrading projects (GBU) are focused on technology adoption (digital technology in particular) to strengthen capabilities in innovation and productivity.
How to seek help from SME Centres?
SMEs who wish to approve the centres for assistance may call the Enterprise Infoline at (65) 6898 1800, or email Enterprise SG. The contact information of all twelve SME Centres can be found here. If one wishes to meet with the centres’ business advisors, an appointment can be made online by filling out this form.
Smart Towkay partners with SMCCI
As a one-stop platform committed to helping SMEs in Singapore make better financial decisions, Smart towkay’s services include catering to SMEs’ business financing needs. This complements the role and functions of SME Centres and, by extension, the trade associations as well.
The Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) has a particularly vital role to play as Islamic banking and financing practices can be markedly different from conventional ones and our Muslim brethren may require more specialised advice and assistance.
SMCCI has a long and illustrious history, having been established in 1956. It boasts more than 900 members, ranging from businesses in the Halal F&B sector to those in the logistics industry. Members get to enjoy considerable benefits, such as special member rates for advertising through SMCCI-affiliated marketing channels and exclusive access to networking platforms with key decision-makers in SMEs from a diverse host of industries.
SMCCI collect feedback from businesses periodically when there’s a new implementation of government rules or government requirements, they serve as a bridge between government agencies and fellow business owners
Memberships last for twelve months at a time, and fees range from S$52.43 to S$219.35 (inclusive of GST) depending on the membership tier that the applicant falls under. Interested parties may visit SMCCI’s website for more details and to begin the application process.
SMCCI also leverages on its network of trusted partners not just locally but across the region and beyond to facilitate its member's plans to establish and expand their business internationally.
Smart Towkay will be participating in the services and activities such as webinars and workshops facilitated by SMCCI on topics such as Business Financing and Business development in the near future. We would also welcome Malay/Muslim business owners to join Smart Towkay’s growing community so we can all collectively share our knowledge and experiences.
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