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12 Jun 2020 Updated 12 Jun 2020

New SBF initiatives to help workers, SMEs

The Straits Times Sue-Ann Tan

Some 8,000 workers who need financial help can get support under a new initiative announced by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) yesterday.

The SBF Foundation, which is the federation's charity organisation, is setting up an industry-led compassion fund to help employees. It will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for every dollar raised by participating trade associations and chambers (TACs), for up to $200,000 per association.

This initiative aims to reach out to at least 10 TACs. The foundation will also provide $2 million in funding for TACs and their members to set up their respective compassion funds.

The Singapore Contractors Association president Ng Yek Meng said: "In the midst of this extremely difficult and stressful period, we want to provide some support to our smaller members, to build a resilient and more productive workforce going forward."

The funds are targeted at lower income earners affected by unexpected personal or family crises.

In addition, SBF also said it will set up a $2.5 million fund, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, to help its members build up their capabilities by making it more affordable for them to participate in growth and internationalisation programmes.

An SBF member, with a paid-up capital not exceeding $5 million, can apply for support of up to $500 to offset the cost of a wide range of qualifying activities conducted by SBF, its programme partners, and other TACs that are aimed at helping businesses tide over the Covid-19 situation and emerge stronger. More details on the application process will be available by the end of this month.

SBF said it will work with 12 members of its TAC alliance as a start to offer additional business growth and capability upgrading activities around topics such as digital transformation, crisis leadership and post-Covid-19 growth.

More than 400 activities will be made available eventually.

The programme under the fund will run from July 1 this year to Dec 31 next year, or until the fund is exhausted. At least 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises that are SBF members are set to benefit.

SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng said: "While many Singapore businesses are currently grappling with the Covid-19 situation, we must not forget that working on the recovery is just as important.

"How fast our country's economy is able to bounce back from this crisis is also dependent on how adaptable and agile our businesses are to change amidst adversity."

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.