SINGAPORE – The national SMEs Go Digital programme, which encourages companies here to digitalise, has attracted 78,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since its 2017 launch, with more than half, or 40,000, coming on board in 2020 alone.
This includes 30,000 SMEs that took up Covid-19 solutions such as online collaboration and virtual meeting tools.
As at the end of last year, Singapore has about 280,000 SMEs, according to government data. SMEs account for 70 per cent of employment and represent 99 per cent of all enterprises in 2020.
The digitalisation update was made by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Nov 30) at the online closing ceremony of the SME Conference and Infocomm Commerce Conference event organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mrs Teo said that the Covid-19 pandemic has given companies here the impetus and opportunity to embrace digitalisation.
“As more and more activities shift online, businesses have had to pivot from bricks-and-mortar shops to digital platforms; to adapt to the new normal,” she added.
The Government is also committed to helping companies at every stage of their digital journey, said Mrs Teo, adding that this was why it launched the Start Digital initiative in 2019.
The initiative provides newly incorporated SMEs and those that have yet to digitalise with foundational and easy-to-deploy solutions at low cost.
Mrs Teo said that about four in 10 SMEs that received funding support through the scheme are new start-ups.
During a dialogue at the event, the minister said that it is unclear what a digital future will really be like and how it will work, adding that this is “frontier terrain” and everyone is trying to develop a playbook for it.
But one advantage Singapore has is that the Government and the business community are always consulting each other.
“Going forward, I think this relationship is even more important,” she said.
“Because it is frontier terrain, all the more we have to interact with each other, and develop and strengthen trust. Otherwise, I don’t see how we can move forward in a way that will strengthen Singapore’s competitive position.”