The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), in partnership with Enterprise Singapore (ESG) will set up a $2.5 million Rising in Support of Enterprises (RISE) Fund and will partner the SBF Foundation in its $2 million industry-led Compassion Fund.
These two initiatives aim to help businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), tide over the challenges arising from COVID-19 by supporting them in three areas: business sustenance, business growth and capability-upgrading, and increase workforce resilience by providing financial assistance to workers in need.
Helping businesses to move beyond COVID-19
In view of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Singapore businesses and in line with the Government’s focus on business transformation during this time, SBF has established the RISE Programme.
The goal of this programme is to help SBF members build up their capabilities, digitalise and grow by making it more affordable for them to participate in capacity-building, growth and internationalisation programmes.
Under the RISE Programme, a $2.5 million fund will be established with the support of ESG’s SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience (STEER) Programme. Through the STEER programme, ESG will match $1 for every $2 contributed by SBF to help strengthen and transform businesses.
Under RISE, an SBF member with a paid-up capital not exceeding $5 million, can apply for support of up to $500 to offset the cost of a wide range of qualifying activities conducted by SBF, its programme partners, and other trade associations and chambers (TACs), aimed at helping businesses tide over the COVID-19 situation and emerge stronger.
SBF’s RISE Programme is also the first STEER-supported fund to cater for the qualifying activities of other TACs. For a start, SBF will work with 12 members of its TAC Alliance to offer additional business growth and capability upgrading activities on topics such as digital transformation, corporate sustainability, crisis leadership and post-COVID-19 growth. The eligible activities will be indicated in SBF and the participating TACs’ websites as either “Business Growth” or “Capability Upgrading” programmes.
SBF members will be able to access almost 180 qualifying activities at the start of the RISE Programme, and more than 400 activities will be made available eventually. The number of activities will be increased as the Government’s COVID-19 measures are adjusted for Singapore to resume activities safely. The SBF also expects more TAC Alliance members to join the programme and add their qualifying activities over time.
The RISE Programme will run from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2021, or until the fund is exhausted. The 18-month programme period will provide Singapore businesses with adequate time to relook at their business strategies and processes, and to decide on suitable courses and events to meet their objectives. At least 5,000 of SBF’s SME members are projected to benefit from the RISE fund.
Mr S.S. Teo, Chairman of SBF said, “The Government has introduced STEER at an opportune time. While many Singapore businesses are currently grappling with the COVID-19 situation, we must not forget that working on the recovery is just as important. How fast our country’s economy is able to bounce back from this crisis is also dependent on how adaptable and agile our businesses are to change amidst adversity.”
“We are delighted to have the support and participation of our TAC Alliance members in the RISE Programme, to help make pertinent activities more accessible to companies in these trying times. We also call on the large enterprises with their unique and relevant capacity-building resources to work with TACs to come on board the RISE Programme to support and help our SME members. We hope members can fully leverage this initiative to emerge stronger in time to come,” he concluded.
Collective effort for employees in need
SBF also recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected many Singaporeans. To mitigate the impact, the SBF Foundation, which is SBF’s charity organisation, is also setting up an industry-led Compassion Fund to help employees in need. For every dollar raised by a participating TAC, the SBF Foundation will match dollar for dollar up to $200,000 per TAC. The Foundation aims to reach out to at least 10 TACs to benefit at least 8,000 employees in need of financial assistance.
To kick start the initiative, the SBF Foundation will provide a total of $2 million in funding to enable TACs and their members to set up their respective industry-led Compassion Funds that will support employees in need before their financial circumstances worsen.
Each Compassion Fund is targeted at lower income earners who are affected by unexpected personal or family crises. Employees are encouraged to seek help from their employers. The employee is then referred to government and community agencies that will offer further social and financial assistance.