120 SMEs each receive $8,000 cash grant to support recovery and growth amid Covid-19 pandemic

Over 700 firms had applied for the grant. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - More than 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have each received an $8,000 cash grant to cover rental and operational costs, maintain their employee payroll, adopt technology and seek help for business transformation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

American software company Salesforce partnered the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to help these companies, which are in manufacturing, freight forwarding, healthcare and more.

Over 700 firms had applied for the grant. They were assessed on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as on eligibility criteria such as their business activity, financial standing and the level of hardship suffered as a result of Covid-19.

The first 120 applicants that fulfilled the eligibility criteria were selected for the grant, and the full list was announced by SBF and Salesforce on Wednesday (March 31).

During the application process, applicants had to provide reasons to justify their needs and indicate how they intended to use the grant, if awarded.

The top uses indicated were for maintaining employee payroll and benefits, upgrading the skills of their workers and adopting technological solutions.

SBF chief executive Lam Yi Young said: "SMEs play an important role in our business ecosystem and may be vulnerable to the economic headwinds due to Covid-19."

He encouraged the 120 grant recipients to "optimise the use of the grant to position their businesses for recovery and growth post-Covid".

Salesforce Singapore vice-president and general manager Cecily Ng noted that SMEs accounted for 99 per cent of all Singapore-based companies in 2019.

"Contributing to 44 per cent of Singapore's GDP (gross domestic product), these businesses have helped drive exciting innovation and are the heart and soul of the Singapore community, powered by hardworking families and individuals.

"By giving a boost to these small businesses who have experienced various hardships during the pandemic, we are empowering them to rebuild, return to growth and lead our economic advancement."

Cleaning service company Sparkx Service, an SME that received the grant, said it was affected when a large part of its business came to a halt during the pandemic.

The bulk of its clients, or 90 per cent of them, requested to pause cleaning services due to unused premises and work-from-home deployment, it added.

Cleaning service company Sparkx Service is one of the SMEs that received the grant. PHOTO: SPARKX SERVICE

Operations manager Chris Lim said the grant would go towards helping the company adopt new initiatives. "We're currently working on enhancing our cleaning equipment inventory, where it will be utilised for combating Covid-19 by offering office sanitation services," he said.

Another SME that received the grant was Singapore History Consultants, a tourism management consultant firm.

The pandemic posed challenges in the areas of maintaining staff employment and financial costs, the firm said.

Its executive director Savita Kashyap said the grant would be utilised to help the business pivot to the digital realm.

"We will invest the grant in the creation of additional virtual tours and digitalisation of educational programmes to expand our menu of offerings and bring Singapore's rich history to life for more people," she said.

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