Push to support Singapore's SMEs

A new campaign, 99%SME, aims to get local consumers into local shops

The 99%SME campaign's website, where SMEs can list retail promotions and Singaporeans can pledge to shop and dine locally. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.99SME.SG

A new campaign has been unrolled to spur consumers to support local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Singtel and DBS Bank yesterday unveiled the 99%SME campaign's www.99sme.sg website, where SMEs can list retail promotions and Singaporeans can pledge to shop and dine locally.

The name of the campaign hails from the fact that Singapore's nearly 190,000 SMEs comprise 99 per cent of all its registered companies.

Speaking at the campaign launch, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said: "In time to come, we can have a very vibrant SME sector in Singapore, serving not just the domestic market, but through our online platforms, reach out to regional and even global customers."

Mr Lee is also Senior Minister of State for National Development.

Singtel, DBS and supporting partners such as MediaCorp are putting millions of dollars into providing SMEs with free technological support and promotion, said Singtel's chief executive of group enterprise, Mr Bill Chang.

For example, Singtel is offering its Amobee Brand Intelligence online data analytics service to help retailers engage better with customers. And in addition to encouraging customers at DBS and POSB branches and ATMs to support SMEs, Mr Lim Chu Chong, DBS head of SME banking, said that the bank will also reach out to its existing SME clients to get them on board the campaign.

Several small businesses, such as Jalan Kayu eatery Le Steak by Chef Amri, participated in the launch ceremony through video-link.

Owner Amri Azim said he was excited to see the campaign fulfil its promise of turning "eyeballs into footfalls" by promoting more traffic through advertising and social media buzz. Although the structure of the inaugural 99%SME Week is designed to support at least a thousand retail and food and beverage businesses this year, organisers said that they intend for the campaign to run for five years and look forward to coming up with strategies to promote business-to-business SMEs in future iterations.

Mr Chang told the press that the aim of the campaign is to get local consumers into local shops, saying: "It's not the supply side that we are concerned about. It's the demand side."

Singtel's vice-president of business sales, Mr Titus Yong, said that it is imperative to support SMEs because "our future depends on their prosperity". SMEs contribute to half of the national economic output and employ 70 per cent of the workforce.

Mr Yong added that SMEs must have the backing of large companies and trade federations because "it's about time the 1 per cent enabled the 99 per cent".

The inaugural 99%SME Week will run from Oct 29 to Nov 1.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline Push to support Singapore's SMEs. Subscribe