20,000 heartland shops to be given help on going digital by end-March: Low Yen Ling

SMEs have also received programmes to boost their productivity.

Matthias Ang | March 02, 2021, 03:56 PM

As of February 2021, over 85 per cent of 20,000 heartland shops have been provided with step-by-step guidance on how they can go digital, the Mayor of South West district Low Yen Ling said in Parliament, during the Committee of Supply debate on Mar. 2.

The programme, Heartlands Go Digital, will be on track to help 20,000 heartland shops adopt e-payment solutions and get started on digital commerce by the end of March, she added.

Programme committee seeks to "revitalise" heartland shops

According to Low, nearly 200 digital ambassadors and business advisers have been deployed on the ground, under the the Heartland Digitalisation and Revitalisation Committee (HDRC) co-chaired by Low and senior minister of state Sim Ann.

The aim is to "revitalise" heartland shops with solutions ranging from visual merchandising in stores, to local placemaking activities and digital marketing.

The committee comprises the Federation of Merchants’ Associations Singapore (FMAS), the Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore, and government agencies, such as ESG, STB, GovTech, HDB and IMDA.

Move towards digitalisation

Low noted that more second and third generation heartland businesses were engaging government programmes to digitalise.

She also cited an example of a business, a mother-and-son-run florist at Teck Whye, Petite Blooms, which reported a 10 per cent increase in revenue within three months of adopting e-payment.

Noting that the florist was now also on Shopee, with 25 per cent of their sales using e-payments, she said: "Thanks to the Heartlands Go Digital Programme, the shop has diversified its revenue streams and enhanced its online visibility, resulting in more business."

SMEs have also received programmes to boost their productivity

In addition, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have also been offered programmes to boost their productivity and competitives, she further noted.

PSG productivity grant

One such scheme is the PSG productivity solutions grant introduced in 2018, which helps businesses in transformation, and provides them with IT support, equipment and solutions.

She added: "Since then (2018), more than 19,000 SMEs have adopted IT solutions and equipment to get ahead. The top sectors for PSG adoption include retail, building and construction, wholesale trade, food services and services sector."

To encourage more enterprises to sign up, the programme's enhanced maximum support level of up to 80 per cent will be extended to March 31, 2022, she said.

SME centres

There are also 11 SME centres established islandwide, to provide guidance to SMEs on capability development and growth, Low noted.

Such centres are now piloting specialised advisory services to support enterprises in specific areas such as digitalisation and financing.

Low explained:

"For example, when an SME wishes to expand, but lacks the funds, the SME centre's specialist advisor will help to assess the company's financial health and recommend the appropriate financing model and available financing instruments. Then, the specialist advisor guides the business owner and SME on how to strengthen his or her loan applications, and will then also provide a link up between the SME and relevant banks for their loan application."

In 2020 alone, the SME centres assisted over 32,000 SMEs, with more expected to benefit from the new services.

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