Over 10,000 projects have tapped ESG schemes for growth and transformation in first half of 2020

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat (centre) touring Markono Content Solutions' printing facility. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - More than 10,000 projects have tapped Enterprise Singapore (ESG) schemes in companies' growth and transformation efforts over the first half of this year, double the number of projects which benefited from these schemes over the same period in 2019.

The take-up of ESG's Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant was shared by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat after a tour of Markono Content Solutions' printing facility in Pioneer on Tuesday (July 14).

Markono is one of the firms that has benefited from ESG's schemes, and has developed its automation processes over the last few years, increasing its operational productivity and efficiency.

"(Markono) shows that companies in traditional sectors can also transform and make good use of technology to improve productivity and to enhance competitiveness," Mr Chee said, noting that the company has invested in ways to better harness data and systems processing to provide better services to its customers.

Markono managing director Edwin Ng said that one of the main transformation plans it is currently working on is an upgrade on its enterprise resource management system.

"This lays the foundation for us to deploy solutions more seamlessly in the future, as well as to automate some of the work processes that are currently conducted manually by our colleagues, (such as) admin, finance... sales and customer service," he said.

Mr Chee also announced that a scheme-matching tool will be launched in August to help companies.

This e-adviser for the GoBusiness Licensing portal will recommend suitable government schemes to help organisations grow, based on their needs.

It is a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, GovTech, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office.

"The philosophy that we use is that the starting point (for companies) should not be the schemes or the grants. The starting point should be what business transformation do you want to embark on," Mr Chee said.

"Once we can answer these questions, then we can talk about what are some of the schemes that you can apply for that will facilitate this process, or for your company to transform, for you to build capabilities."

Targeted measures to help specific industries adapt to the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have also seen healthy reception from businesses, he said.

ESG's food delivery and e-commerce booster packages have been taken up by more than 10,000 food and beverage establishments and 700 retailers respectively.

Mr Chee said that more than 10,600 enterprises have taken up about $9.4 billion of loans between March and June.

This amounts to over seven times of the credit extended under ESG loan schemes for the whole of 2019, he added. Such schemes can help businesses with their cash flow amid economic challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 80 per cent of firms who have tapped these schemes are small and micro enterprises with under $10 million of annual revenue.

While the firms come from diverse sectors, about a fifth were in wholesale trade, while 15 per cent was from construction and 14 per cent from manufacturing.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article stated that more than 10,000 enterprises benefited from ESG's schemes. The figure refers to the number of projects embarked on in the first half of the year instead. We are sorry for the error.

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