SMEs are key part of S'pore economy: Iswaran

(From far left) Direct Funeral Services founder Roland Tay, executive director Darren Cheng and managing director Jenny Tay. Ms Tay and Mr Cheng were recognised at the Entrepreneur of the Year awards yesterday, taking home honours in the new entrepre
(From far left) Direct Funeral Services founder Roland Tay, executive director Darren Cheng and managing director Jenny Tay. Ms Tay and Mr Cheng were recognised at the Entrepreneur of the Year awards yesterday, taking home honours in the new entrepreneur category, for their moves to modernise the funeral industry.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Singapore's legions of smaller firms remain an integral part of the economy and their success will be decisive for the country's prospects, said Mr S. Iswaran yesterday.

The Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) said at the Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony that the Government will remain committed to supporting such small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they seek opportunities to grow."Over the years, our SMEs have fostered close business partnerships among themselves, and with regional and multi-national partners, while establishing strong brand names for themselves," he added.

"This spirit of enterprise should be celebrated, and must continue to thrive in Singapore."

Mr Iswaran noted that Singapore's economy is poised at an important juncture.

"No matter which sector or industry, our future competitiveness and growth rests critically on innovation and productivity. Our entrepreneurs and SMEs are at the frontline of this effort," he noted.

He added that the Government has a series of measures and programmes to help SMEs such as SME Centres and trade chambers. Industry Transformation Maps are also being drawn up for 23 sectors to set out the national approach to grow productivity, create jobs and improve capability.

Four entrepreneurs received the top honours at the ceremony held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, while Mr Von Lee was the overall winner of the established entrepreneur category.

Mr Lee, 46, is the executive chairman of Expand Construction, a local firm known for projects at Gardens by the Bay and National University of Singapore, among others.

Mr Ven Chin of GD Group, and Ms Jenny Tay and Mr Darren Cheng from Direct Funeral Services were the joint overall winners of the new entrepreneur category.

Mr Chin, 36, is known for creating the Gurney Drive Signatures restaurant brand. At GD Group, he developed Penang Culture, Penang St Buffet and Mamak Culture.

Ms Tay, 30, and Mr Cheng, 31, made their mark by modernising the funeral industry, including adding elements of hospitality.

The Entrepreneur of The Year Award was co-organised by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises and the Rotary Club of Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'SMEs are key part of S'pore economy: Iswaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe