FairPrice extends support for local SME partners

This is the third time NTUC FairPrice is extending the SME Suppliers Support and Development Programme.
This is the third time NTUC FairPrice is extending the SME Suppliers Support and Development Programme.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Supermarket giant NTUC FairPrice has extended a scheme in which it pays small local suppliers within 30 days, instead of the usual 60 days.

This is the third time NTUC FairPrice is extending the scheme which supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), called the SME Suppliers Support and Development Programme.

"Getting paid sooner improves our cashflow and allow us to conduct R&D and launch more new products without depending as much on loans," said Sing Long Foodstuff Trading director, Mr Ng Chin Nyan, 56. Sing Long has seen business growth of about 8 per cent since it joined the programme in 2012.

The extension of the programme for SMEs was announced at the fourth annual "Made in Singapore" Fair on Thursday (July 30) by Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice.

"FairPrice first introduced SSDP back in 2009 to help SMEs with challenges caused by the global financial crisis. It was brought back in 2012 due to the slowing economy," he said.

NTUC FairPrice has invested over $3 million in the programme since 2012. To date, over 270 SME suppliers benefited from the 50 per cent discount on product listing and processing fees for new products.

SMEs in the programme will also receive additional support through knowledge building seminars that facilitate sharing and learning of industry trends, opportunities, business development and growth.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, added: "The Government is committed to helping our food companies grow. Spring's Capability Development Grant (CDG) funds capability upgrading programmes tailored to an SME's needs."

The Government had earlier this year simplified the CDG application process for projects below $30,000 to encourage more SMEs to take up the grant.

Mr Randall Ang, 31, business development manager of Ha Li Fa, a homegrown SME known for its "Bobo" fishballs, said: "It is very hard to hire people these days, especially Singaporeans. But machines are expensive for SMEs like us."

"CDG really helps as it covers about 60 to 70 per cent of the cost of consultancy and new machines. These capability-building and upgrading projects usually cost more than $100,000. New automation technologies that weigh and pack our products help us save time, boost productivity and achieve greater economies of scale," Mr Ang added.

NTUC FairPrice also promotes local products through its annual "Made in Singapore" Fair. This year, the Fair will feature 50 products at discounted prices.

From now till August 5, the Fair will run at all 126 NTUC FairPrice supermarkets across Singapore. Shoppers can look out for cooking demonstrations for locally produced food at JEM's FairPrice Xtra.