In partnership with the Singapore Business Federation, I’m pleased to announce that 120 Singapore small businesses will each receive a one-off grant of S$8,000. The grants will help them address their immediate cash flow needs, preserve jobs, and get back to growth.
Today, we are living in truly unprecedented times. Salesforce was started with a vision for a different kind of company—to change the way the world does business and at the same time, improve the state of the world.
That’s why we launched the Salesforce Small Business Relief Grants Programme in November 2020 to support small businesses across Singapore. Many small businesses experienced significant hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some struggled to pay rent, while others could not access stock. Many were forced to pivot to online selling and rethink their growth plans.
Small and medium-sized businesses are an integral part of Singapore. In 2019, they constituted 72% of all employers across the country. They also contributed to 44% of the nominal value of our economy. More importantly, these businesses are the heart and soul of the Singapore community. Innovators and risk-takers, they are powered by hardworking families and individuals.
This year, our successful Salesforce Small Business Grants Relief Programme recipients come from a wide variety of industries across Singapore. The selection panel was impressed with the resilience and creativity shown by all the applicants.
All successful recipients will be able to use the grant for rental and other operating costs, employee payroll, skills upgrading, technology adoption, digitalisation, and business transformation.
We sat down with five of the successful grant recipients and asked what they had learned from the challenges of 2020 and where they want to go in 2021.
Founded in 1996 by experienced orthodontists and a manufacturer, Innobrace Orthodontics offers Singapore-designed orthodontic appliances to the dental industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Innobrace experienced significant disruptions, with no face-to-face consultations allowed and supply shortages. Spokesperson Jessie Tay May Yin says the grant will not only alleviate some operational costs such as manpower costs and sales processing system upgrade, it will also help provide important digital training for employees. “We are happy and grateful for this additional support to the business” says Jessie.
Citrus Media Pte Ltd is one of Singapore’s most vibrant independent publishing houses. Its portfolio includes BlissfulBrides, the Hospitality Resource Directory (HRD), and Clubpets. The publisher also organises Singapore’s largest outdoor wedding event: the Blissful Outdoor Wedding Show (BOWS). Due to the restrictions around physical events in Singapore last year, Citrus Media has shown incredible resilience and innovation by hosting BOWS online, and developed a digital Blissful Brides Concierge Service. The grant will enable Citrus Media to provide essential digital training to staff and attract new vendors and customers to sustain and continue growing their business. “In every crisis, there is an opportunity,” says Managing Director, Angie Seow Chin Lim. “Change is the only constant and we all need to embrace digitalisation, which is the new norm. By learning new skills, we can elevate to greater heights together.”
Singapore History Consultants (SHC) is a leading heritage research and education firm formed in 1995, that brings history alive through interactive storytelling programmes. As tourism was one of the hardest-hit industries in 2020, SHC found that maintaining staff employment was their greatest challenge. But SHC took a long-term view and has pivoted to transform their usual physical tours to virtual activities, and started to run digital education programmes. The grant will allow them to create even more virtual programmes, keeping additional revenue streams afloat. SHC also plans to work with the Ministry of Defence and Singapore Tourism Board to work on heritage research projects. “These are challenging times” says Savita Kashyap, Executive Director, Singapore History Consultants. “But it's important not to lose hope or give up. There are new opportunities ahead if you are bold.”
Sparkx Services started as a home-based business four years ago. Since then, it has grown to offer cleaning services to residential, commercial, and industrial clients. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, up to 90% of its clients paused regular cleaning services. As a result, Sparkx Services’ income plummeted. Now that things are looking up, Director Chris Lim plans to use the grant to introduce technical cleaning equipment to reduce physically demanding work and injuries. This will create more job opportunities for older individuals in an environment focused on their wellbeing and safety. “We know that many businesses have faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic”, says Chris. “Our advice is to embrace change, adapt, and not use one method to face a thousand problems.”
Freightmen is an established air and sea freight company with warehouse and distribution capabilities. It had a strong position in a hypercompetitive market. When the transportation industry ground to a halt in 2020, Freightmen experienced a revenue drop of around 70%. The urgent need for real-time information means that digitalisation has become more urgent than before, whether sea or air freight. Looking ahead, Freightmen plans to use the grant to scale up and digitally transform its freight forwarding operations. “I feel elated that Freightmen has been chosen as one of the participants to receive this grant, and am truly grateful” says CEO & Managing Director, Tony Tan. “There is so much promise of what we can now achieve through digital transformation.”
Check out the full list of 120 Salesforce Small Business Relief Grant recipients from Singapore.
Our appreciation goes out to the many small businesses that continue to serve the Singapore community, despite the uncertainties of the future. We hope the grants will go a long way in getting them back to business.
Salesforce is also a pre-approved IT vendor under the SMEs Go Digital Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) in Singapore. Learn more about how you can stabilise and rebuild your small business with Salesforce.
There are many ways we can support small businesses as individuals. Shop at small businesses and make a big difference to your community. Put in a good word for your favourite local brands whenever you can. Together, we can help small businesses return to growth.
Angie Lim, Founder and Managing Director of Citrus Media, will be speaking at Salesforce Live: Asia. She'll share her thoughts on the grants and how her small business embraced digital transformation. Register for Salesforce Live: Asia to hear from Angie and other Trailblazers.