Google and UOB expand SME Leadership Academy

Photo by William Iven

Google and UOB announced on 24 April that the new curriculum for the ​SME Leadership Academy ​training programme has been customised to help business leaders of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the retail, tourism and food and beverage (F&B) sectors respond to the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the pressing need for SMEs across different industries to be able to transform their businesses digitally, the SME Leadership Academy will also expand its capacity to help 4,000 SMEs by end 2021, a ten-fold increase from the initially projected 400 SMEs.

In collaboration with the Economic Development Board and with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Marketing College, Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Retailers Association, the training programme for retail and tourism SMEs will be conducted online through six to eight webinars, each lasting an hour. Previous training sessions were conducted through in-person seminars.

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The revised and online curriculum now teaches SMEs how to use digital solutions, including online collaboration tools, to be more effective when managing their businesses from home. SMEs will also gain insights into effective people and business management during crises, which can then be turned into practical steps they can take to tackle their own immediate challenges.

UOB will guide SMEs on how to apply for COVID-19 financial relief assistance to help tide them over during this difficult period. The Bank, through its innovation accelerator The FinLab, will also connect SMEs with suitable technology solution providers. With the support of these providers, SMEs will be able to implement digital solutions that will see them through the current situation and ensure they are well-positioned for better times.

Mr Ben King, Country Director of Google Singapore said, “The considerable disruptions of COVID-19 has made this a tough time for businesses at all levels – doubly so for SMEs who need to accelerate digital adoption and quickly move their business online to adapt to the evolving situation.”

“We hope that the webinar series of our SME Leadership Academy will empower Singaporean businesses through skills training and enable them to succeed in a digital economy, which is especially critical during this challenging business climate,” he continued.

Mr Lawrence Loh, Head of Group Business Banking, UOB, said, “Through the customised curriculum and online webinars, we want to make it easier for SMEs to address the business constraints resulting from the pandemic and to be ready for recovery. They can do so by gaining relevant market insights and learning how they can make use of digital solutions to create new revenue streams and to manage their costs more effectively.”

Clearer learning path for SMEs with Google

In order to help SMEs better take advantage of existing digital solutions, Google has also introduced a more streamlined path to learning for SMEs under ​Grow with Google to promote digital transformation and upskilling on an organisational level.

The website provides a platform for businesses to learn about Google’s SME initiatives, including the SME​

Leadership Academy​, Squared​ Online for SMEs and Primer​ . It also consolidates useful tools such ​Google My Business and ​Market Finder to help businesses grow their local and global presence.