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Top SME Grants and Free Incentives for Small Businesses in Singapore This 2022

sme grants
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SMEs, or small and medium enterprises, are the backbone of Singapore’s economy. In order to help them survive amid COVID 19 pandemic, various government grants and reliefs have been implemented.

Despite the government’s efforts to introduce and enhance assistance schemes, not all qualified businesses are aware of which grants they qualify for. 

To help you navigate this system more easily, we’ll show you how these measures work and walk through an application process that will keep your business moving forward.

Top 5 SME grants in Singapore

Among the slew of government incentives and grants, these 5 emerged to be the most relevant and applicable to various SME businesses. 

Type of Grant Grant Amount Applicable for
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) Funding support of a maximum of 80% of the qualifying costs Companies who want to adopt IT solutions and equipment in order to enhance business processes. It’s meant for sectors including retail, food, logistics, etc.
Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) Funding support of a maximum of 80% of the qualifying costs SMEs looking to upgrade their business, innovate or venture overseas under three pillars namely: core capabilities, innovation and productivity, and market access.
International Co-Innovation Programs Projects that catalyse cross-border collaboration on technology development and co-innovation Companies seeking growth and internationalisation.
Market Readiness Assistance Grant (MRA) Up to 70% of eligible costs For SMEs who want to take their business overseas. 
SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) S$10,000 credit to cover 90% on qualifying costs  For companies who want to invest in enterprise transformation and the capabilities of their employees. 

1. Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

Productivity Solutions Grant is targeted to SME businesses who want to adopt IT solutions that will stimulate technology integration in the improvement of business processes and to implement business continuity measures against the effect of Covid19

The funds from the PSG can be used in various means, but mainly in areas including customer management, data analytics, financial management, and inventory tracking. 

Grant Amount: The enhanced maximum support level was increased up to 80% from September 30, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be registered and operating in Singapore
  • The purchase, lease, or subscription of the IT solutions or equipment must be used inside Singapore.
  • 30% of the company must have local shareholding
  • The company’s group annual sales turnover must be less than S$100 million or with less than 200 employees for some selected solutions.

2. Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

One sure way for companies to grow is to build or expand overseas. The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) helps businesses with their overseas market setup. These innovations must be under three pillars including: core capabilities, innovation and productivity, and market access. It funds project costs like third party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost.

Grant Amount: For the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), the enhanced maximum support level was increased up to 80% from September 30, 2021, to March 31, 2022.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Must be a business entity currently registered and operating in Singapore
  • 30% of the company must have local shareholding
  • Must be financially viable to start and see the completion of the project

Companies that have fulfilled the criteria listed above can also apply for additional subsidies under the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credits (SFEC) if they fulfill the additional requirements below. More information can be found here.

  • Must have contributed at least S$750 Skills Development Levy over the qualifying period
  • Must have employed at least three Singapore Citizens (SCs) or Permanent Residents (PRs) every month over the same period
  • Have not been qualified for SFEC at any of the earlier periods

3. International Co-Innovation Programmes

Under the International Co-Innovation Programmes, a Singapore business can work with an international counterpart. The two can then co-innovate solutions, test-bed these, and scale up into a specific region together. In the past, the programme has allowed entrepreneurs to partner with the Eureka Network, France, Israel, Shanghai, and Germany.

Grant Amount: Not listed as the amount may vary per application.

Eligibility criteria:

Open to Singapore-based businesses willing to work with entrepreneurs overseas. This grant funds joint innovation projects which means that both businesses have to work together.

4. Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant

While numerous businesses found success in Singapore, it cannot be denied that the overseas market is large and profitable. The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant was created for businesses that want to bring their business overseas. The fund can be used for market promotion, business development, and market setup.

Grant Amount: The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant has a support level of up to 70% until May 31, 2023. This is capped at S$100,000 per company for each new market. (This runs from April 1, 2020, to May 31, 2023. The grant covers the following:

  • Overseas market promotion (capped at S$20,000)
  • Overseas business development (capped at S$50,000)
  • Overseas market setup (capped at S$30,000)

Note: Each application made is limited to a particular activity in a single overseas clientele, such as market entry or participation in a trade fair.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Must be a business entity currently registered and incorporated in Singapore
  • Must be a new market entry criteria. This means that the target overseas country where the application is made should not S$100,000 in overseas sales in each of the last three years.
  • Must have at least 30% of local shareholding
  • The Group Annual Sales Turnover should not be more than S$100 million or that the company’s Group Employment Size should not exceed 200 employees.

5.  SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC)

Every good employer knows that the success of the business lies with the employees. This grant is meant to encourage employers to invest in the enterprise transformation and capabilities of their employees. In terms of the workforce transformation component of the grant, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore have created job redesign initiatives and curated training programs. 

These training courses are related to the Skills Framework, Professional Conversion Programmes, and other sector-specific programmes.

Eligible employers will receive a one-off S$10,000 credit to cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses on costs for supportable initiatives, over and above the support levels of existing schemes.

Grant Amount: Employers will get a one-of-S$ 10,000 credit that would cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses on costs for certain initiatives that may be above the support levels of existing schemes.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Must have contributed at least S$750 Skills Development Levy over the specified period
  • At least three of the employees must be Singapore citizens (SC) or Permanent Resident (PR) every month over the same period.
  • Must not have been qualified at any of the earlier periods

What Other SME Grants Are Available?

Aside from the Top 5 grants mentioned above, there are other grants available for other types of businesses. These are a mixture of capability development grants, business improvement funds, and proprietary solutions.

For Startups:

1.Startup SG Founder

New entrepreneurs can apply to the Startup SG Founder grant for funding support, mentorship, and business networks. For the Train Track, mentor partners will provide a 3-month Venture Building programme to entrepreneurs. This programme will give assistance for finding innovation, commercializing the business ideas into a scalable business model, acquiring product and solution validation from potential clients, and finding business capital.

Meanwhile, for the Start Track, entrepreneurs will present innovative ideas, and the mentor partners will identify qualifying applicants for funding support. Aside from the assistance and mentorship from the experts, the startup will receive a startup capital grant of S$50,000. You can read more information about the grant here.

2. Startup SG Tech

Business startups who are just starting out can apply for funding to fast-track the commercialisation of scalable in-house solutions. Also, this grant fast-tracks the development of proprietary technology solutions as well as initiates the growth of startups based on proprietary technology and a scalable business model. For more information, visit this website.

3. Startup SG Accelerator

This grant is meant to encourage Singaporeans to build startups. It covers costs like programmes to nurture startups, mentoring startups, operating expenses, and many more. More information about this grant can be found here.

For Partners

1. Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) Programme

This grant is for Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) who want to drive capability development and internationalisation projects. This programme supports projects in areas including technology and infrastructure, industry expertise, business collaboration, intelligence & research, and internal competencies. The LEAD Programme supports up to 70% of eligible costs for qualifying projects. You can read the details of this grant here.

2. PACT Programme

This grant encourages companies to collaborate. The projects under this grant include supplier/partner development, co-innovation, knowledge transfer, alliances and consortiums, and shared resources. SMEs in Singapore will receive a maximum of 70% of the qualifying costs, while non-SMEs in Singapore will have a maximum of 50% of the qualifying costs. For more information regarding this grant, you can visit the official website here.

Other Things To Know

1. How do you apply for an SME grant?

It’s good news for businesses owners because the entire application process of the grants mentioned above can be completed online. You do not need to risk your health by visiting offices and filing for your application in person. You can even use your mobile phone to apply for one of these grants.

One option is the Business Grants Portal, which can be accessed here. It is an online platform that brings Singapore government grants into one place, which makes it easier for people to find and apply for the grants they need. In order to log in, just use your company’s CorpPass, which can be accessed here.

2. How do I qualify as an SME in Singapore? 

The grants mentioned above are funded by the Singapore government. Hence, Singapore-based companies with Singapore citizens or permanent resident employees are preferred. In order to qualify, you have to provide documents that prove the financial capacity of your business. On some occasions, you have to prove that you are capable of seeing through the project you are applying for.

Take note that each of the grants mentioned above was created for a specific type of business. So, it is best that you identify the grant first and then check whether your business is eligible to apply.

3. How can you get a successful application?

As mentioned above, the SME grants offered by the Singapore government has a high approval rate. So, there is a big chance that your application will get approved. This does not mean, though, that all businesses will be granted funds.

It is important to pay attention to the eligibility requirements because each of these grants is made for a specific type of business. You must only submit an application if you fulfil the requirements set by the government. One way to do this is to check out the information posted on Enterprise Singapore’s website. This is the official government site, so you are sure that the information there is actual and updated.

How Would You Know the Best Grant for Your Business?

  1. Check the list of grants, fundings, and other financial schemes on the Enterprise Singapore website. There are many financial programmes available so make sure that you have an idea of all the possible options you have.
  2. Identify a specific concern of your business you wish to focus on. What aspect/s of the business do you need help with now? Are you concerned with finding innovative digital solutions? If so, pick the grant that responds to your issues and concerns.
  3. Check whether your gross monthly wages paid, your employee’s gross monthly salary, your size as a company, your hiring of local employee/s, and many other aspects of the business fit the requirements set by the government. There are specific requirements set by Enterprise Singapore before giving the grants. If your business does not meet these requirements, it is best to look for alternative sources of funds instead.

Final Word

Through the years, the Singapore government has launched various grants and schemes that aim to support businesses and encourage business growth. These SME grants are not only for wage support and manpower costs. 

Many of them are meant to aid SMEs to come up with digital solutions, expand overseas reach, start domestic or overseas relocation, and launch SME digital tech hubs.

If you are a business owner who badly needs financial support but is not eligible for the SME grants offered by the government, you can always rely on licensed moneylenders. 

To find the best loan deals and the best support package for SMEs, check Loan Advisor’s Comparison directory. They have compiled the best business loans so the business owner can make the best choice. 

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