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The hard truths behind getting a grant in Singapore

· enterprise singapore,grants,Singapore

While it is heartening to see more government support for small- and medium-sized enterprises, theAsianIR founder and director Huan Johnson Koh says getting a grant from the government is no easy feat.

It is often said that all that glitters is not gold – what one ends up owning, ends up owning them. As a small business owner attempting to submit a grant, that saying rings true.

Government grants and financial assistance may be aplenty in Singapore, and that most of them are targeted at small medium enterprises. But the harsh truth is that accessing them is never an easy task for the business owner, who remains the final driver towards attaining any financial assistance. And in many ways, the relentlessness of the vendor or consultant isn't sufficient or isn't regarded as strongly as the business owner who has to be there to answer all queries and work with the government when the decision to grant or not grant is being made. That includes, in any situation, picking up the phone to as Enterprise Singapore why the grant isn't disseminated.

In Singapore where access to financing for SMEs is many a times a difficult, and more often frustrating task, my experience with building up SME consulting and financing company theAsianIR has taught me the importance of being clear-eyed about the value proposition of purpose of the grant. Any money is always difficult to come by, and accessing grants from government requires the technical and financial acumen of putting up a crystal-clear, bullet-proof valid case, while also using some emotional intelligence to understand how grants are being evaluated and disseminated.

There are at least a dozen government entities in Singapore disseminated various grants fitted around the operations of an SME. One of the entity is Enterprise Singapore, who in 2018 merged with Spring Singapore to become an enlarged entity helping SMEs build up core capabilities across various business functions.

The main, and most highly-valued grant, is the Enterprise Development Grant ("EDG"), which replaced the Capability Development Grant ("CDG"). Besides the name-change, the mindset of "what already works is sure to work again"of emulating past successful grant applications doesn't work in the EDG context. Speaking to an insider, the evaluation and approval process is now streamlined to be reviewed by the relevant industry sector operated by the SME.

At its worst, when poorly thought out grant applications is submitted in quick succession, what we find works is to engage in a dialouge before and after the grant.

But here in opens up a new contention, for the company to drive the application process before or after the grant application, there must be a qualified project manager motivated and driven to understand and refine the grant case to meet the government's requirements.

For example, a company wanting to use the grant to pay for branding consultancy for a new product un-related to its core business and capabilities may not fly well with the government. In this case, what could work is;

  1. Tie the branding project to its core business
  2. Connect the branding project to influence the core business growth and internalisation plans
  3. Detail how the branding project outcome will make the current business state and processes so much more efficient 
  4. Elaborate again how the branding project will help the company with its internationalisation and growth plans

For a company in a sector wanting to promote its services in a sector that is not its core business, what could work is;

  1. Apply for a co-funding under the productivity innovation project scheme to help companies, in this case in the building and construction sector, re-engineer their site process and adopt labour efficient technologies (i.e with the use of a web application and APP)
  2. Apply for a productivity solutions grant to pay towards development and adoption of hardware or softwares to automate existing processes and improve productivity
  3. Sign up for the SME go-digital program and allow a software or hardware solution to be approved by 2-3 companies first before being approved as a subsidised solution
As the saying goes "there are multiple ways to skin a cat", and the process of assessing grants, especially in an environment where frauds are prevalent, will be a challenge for SMEs without proper consultants like theAsianIR to devise a grant program.

Sign up to appoint us as the go-to consultant to assess Singapore Grants.

theAsianIR Pte Ltd is a branding and digital transformation agency helping Singapore SMEs adopt automation and productivity technologies such as iOT, Web-apps, WeChat OAs and Chatbots. We exist because we see an increasing demand from SMEs looking to tap into technologies designed to turn the organisation to be more data-driven, automated and efficient, whilst being lesser dependent on man-power.

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