There is a new grant in town that provides up to 70% funding support :)
Updated: Nov 20
Common gripes when I met any SME owners recently:
"Cost is rising beyond control. Next year's GST increase will worsen the situation."
"Sales have been disappointing. We had high expectations for the post-pandemic and F1 period but that didn't materialise."
"I can't get Singaporeans/PR to join my company/industry. I have ran out of foreigners quota."
"Automate? With rising cost and low sales, where to find the money to purchase/upgrade."
"I/My people have run out of ideas to improve our process."
One of the ways SMEs can seek help is via the government channel. The Singapore government, through its various agencies such as Enterprise Singapore (ESG), Economic Development Board (EDB), and Workforce/SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), provides various support including funding, consultancy and training support to progressive SMEs. Grants such as the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) and the Skillsfuture Singapore are the common ones offering financial assistance and/or training or consultancy support.
The grant that offered one of the highest funding support was the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) Besides supporting the acquisition of automation equipment or tools that help to increase productivity (check out my older blogs), do you know that EDG also supports consultancy, branding & marketing, and also overseas venture support?
EDG used to support up to 70% of qualifying cost. From 1 April 2023, this support dropped to 50% for non-sustainability related projects. At the absolute value, I used to achieve funding support in the range of 40-45% for my past EDG applications. With the drop in quantum, I would expect the range to be in the 30-35% bracket. This is still a blow to the many cash-strapped SMEs out there who have big projects in mind.
There is a new grant in Town
Well this grant isn't exactly new. It was announced in February 2019 and launched in 2022. Recently I was an invited guest to one of my partner's new facility opening event. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of the NTUC chief and also the Minister of State gracing the event. I found out that my partner's company was a success story under the NTUC's Company Training Committee (CTC) Grant.
The business owner shared with me this grant provides up to 70% in funding support AND the grant process is so much faster!
What is the Company Training Committee (CTC) Grant?
In 2022, the government set aside S$100 million for the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to scale up Company Training Committees (CTCs). The mission of the CTCs is to help local companies in mapping out roadmaps to transform and achieve the company's vision, specifically in the areas of worker and business outcomes. A company's CTC may consist of management representatives and union representatives.
Let me summarise the good stuff:
Funding support is capped at 70% of qualifying cost. This makes it one of the highest grant available.
There appears to be no documented cap to the maximum fund value (though the purse currently stands at $100mil spread out across 1500 companies at the point of writing this blog).
It covers a range of supportable items as long as the projects (1) enhance business capabilities, innovation, or productivity; AND (2) provides workforce transformation. Part (2) means better career prospects and better wages for local workers (Singapore Citizens and PRs). This broad statement may encompass job redesigns, process redesigns, and acquisition of new automation tools and equipment that may enhance capabilities and productivity.
Besides time commitment for this transformation project, the company must be committed to at least one worker's outcome: (1) Wage increase; and/or (2) Implement a Career Development Plan (CDP) that is communicated to the staff.
The application and grant approval timeline seems to be much faster (and maybe simpler) than the EDG according to the business owner and NTUC representatives I spoke to.
There is $ZERO investment required for the company to undergo CTC. :)
Non-unionised companies can also embark on this programme.
The NTUC representative assured me there is hand-holding after the roadmap is developed, to guide the company through the execution phase. This is important as most consultants would hand over a wonderful PowerPoint deck to the company and conclude the project.
Is this suitable for me?
At this point, I am sure there are many questions on your mind if you are exploring this grant.
"What is the commitment level required? In terms of money and time."
"Everyone is so busy and fire-fighting, how do we find the time to go for workshops and meetings?"
"My workers won't like to attend such talk and talk sessions."
"Is the grant application process complicated?"
"What kind of items do the grant covers?"
Currently I do not have the actual answers to the above questions. The good news is that I am embarking on this CTC programme with my company. Stay tune as I share more about my experience in this space in the coming months!
How do I find out more about CTC?
Here are a few links you may find useful:
CTC FAQs by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i): https://www.e2i.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/NTUC-CTC-Grant-FAQ_18Jan2023.pdf
e2i CTC page: https://www.e2i.com.sg/ctc/
The Business Times CTC news: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/boost-transformation-plan-ctc-grant-funding-e2i
I hope this update will be useful for those searching for grant support!
If you are an SME, and if there is any area you may want some help, or an opinion, or just simply a chat, do drop me a message!