DBS rolls out support measures for well-being of small business owners

DBS will extend complimentary access to an app that helps manage workplace stress.
DBS will extend complimentary access to an app that helps manage workplace stress.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Micro and small enterprises prioritise protecting employees' livelihoods but many need more support, according to a survey conducted by DBS. The bank has therefore rolled out new measures to support these business owners in their quest to keep their operations afloat.

About six in 10 micro and small enterprises polled in the DBS SME Pulse Check Survey cited responsibility for protecting employee livelihoods as the main motivation for sustaining their businesses. More than half have tapped personal savings and assets to do so amid the economic downturn.

Despite their determination, four in 10 survey respondents said that their mental and physical well-being has taken a blow.

Said Ms Joyce Tee, group head of SME banking at DBS: "With the economic situation and road ahead still uncertain, business owners must be ready for a long fight, and will need to take care of themselves to avoid burning out."

DBS thus will extend complimentary access to an app that helps manage workplace stress, as well as webinars that will provide tips and insights for mental well-being. It also plans to run webinars on financial planning strategies and tools, such as DBS NAV Planner, the bank's digital retirement financial planning solution.

Fortitude will be imperative in weathering the circumstances, but while business owners mostly remain optimistic, with only 15 per cent of respondents expressing pessimism for the year ahead, micro and small enterprises are seeking assistance from the Government and banks.

In the new year, businesses are focusing on ensuring sufficient cash flow and sufficient manpower while also pivoting to new income streams.

To meet these goals, more than four in 10 business owners have expressed a desire for more government measures that support their working capital needs, while over three in 10 would like more wage support measures.

In addition, these businesses are looking to banks for working capital support, connectivity opportunities and support to become more sustainable, which Ms Tee said is a move towards growth beyond the pandemic.

According to DBS, the bank approved more than 10,000 collateral-free loans totalling more than $5 billion to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in Singapore in 2020, over 90 per cent of which went to micro and small enterprises.

Identifying "a growing appetite for more business partnerships", Ms Tee touted DBS' network of partners as a growth opportunity for micro and small enterprises, and mentioned "new packages in the coming months" in the bank's efforts to support their push towards sustainability.

The DBS SME Pulse Check Survey was conducted at the start of the year with more than 200 micro and small enterprises across various industries.