Bigger $50,000 Start-Up Grant for First Time Entrepreneurs

On 17 August 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during his Ministerial Speech that S$150 million has been set aside for the enhancement of the Startup SG Founder scheme.

First-time entrepreneurs will be able to access a higher start-up capital grant of S$50,000, up from $30,000, to help them launch their business ideas. In addition to the increase in the start-up grant, a three-month venture building programme has also been introduced to help start-ups get their innovative ideas off the ground.

The reason for the enhancement of the scheme is to spur new development and new growth opportunities. Besides new innovations and solving real world problems, start-ups also help to create more and new types of job opportunities for Singaporeans. By enhancing the Startup SG Founder programme, the government hopes to enable more aspiring entrepreneurs to start new ventures and accelerate the formation of innovative startups in Singapore.

Startup SG Founder "Train" Track

Under the “Train” track scheme, Enterprise Singapore has appointed Venture Builder and Accredited Mentor Partners (‘VB-AMPs’) with strong track records of venture building to provide 3-month Venture Building (VB) programmes to Singaporeans. The programme will provide support for sourcing innovation, commercialising these ideas into scalable businesses, getting product/solution validation from customers and finding capital.

Eligibility

To be eligible for this track, applicants must fulfil the following criteria:
i. Singaporean Citizen or Permanent Resident;
ii. Commit to 100% attendance for the Venture Building Programme;
iii. Commit to running a startup full time after the programme.

They will also need to pass the VB-AMPs’ screening criteria, which is not limited to:
aptitude, expertise, background and related experience.

The table below summarises the eligibilities of different categories of individuals. The
list below is non-exhaustive, and subject to changes by ESG. Categories of individuals
not listed below will be assessed for eligibility on a case-by-case basis by ESG.

 CategoryEligibility for the VB ProgrammeEligibility for Stipends
Applicants who are full time employed, part-time employed, self-employed or freelancing

1
Applicants who are currently in part-time or full-time employmentNo, unless applicants are willing to tender the resignations before enrolling into the programme.
If programme-eligible applicants are still serving notice during the
programme, pro-rated stipends will be provided after the notice period ends
2Freelancers Yes, provided applicant can be full time committed to the Venture Building
Programme
Yes
3Self employed i. If the business is registered as a sole proprietor, the treatment for freelancers (case #2) will apply.
ii. For all other business entities, the treatment will follow that of case #5.
Former / current startup founders
4Applicants who have previously incorporated a business entity on ACRA (ie. Pte Ltd / LLC / any other business entities), which was nonrevenue generating and is no longer active YesYes
5Applicants with a business entity that is active and live on ACRA, registered as Pte Ltd / LLC / any other business entities, excluding sole proprietorshipNo. If your business entity is a startup, you may wish to apply for the Startup SG Founder grant, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.
No
6Applicants who have been awarded the Startup SG Founder grantNoNo
Students
7Applicants who are currently in full time studiesOnly students in their final year of studies are eligible for the programme. However, if you currently hold a job, you will not be eligible, as per treatment of case #1.No
8Applicants who are currently in part time studies
Yes, if you can be full time committed to the Venture Building programme.Yes
8Applicants who are currently in part time studies
Yes, if you can be full time committed to the Venture Building programme.Yes
9Applicants who are still studying and on scholarship that requires them to
serve a bond after graduation
NoNo
Others
10Applicants who have attended any SGUnited Traineeship or SGUnited Skills ProgrammesNoNo
11Applicants who have previously joined other Venture Building programmes (incl. commercial VB programmes)
NoNo

Startup SG Founder "Start" Track

Under the “Start” track scheme, teams of entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas can approach any Enterprise Singapore-appointed Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) with their innovative business ideas. The AMPs will identify and recommend qualifying applicants for funding support based on the uniqueness of business concept, feasibility of business model, strength of management team, and potential market value. Upon successful application, the AMP will assist the startups with advice, learning programs and networking contacts. Enterprise Singapore will also provide the startups with a startup capital grant of $50,000. Startups are required to raise and commit S$10,000 as co-matching fund to the grant.

Eligibility

Applicants will need to reach out to an Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) of choice and submit their pitch deck for the AMP’s consideration. AMP will assess applicants based on (but not limited to) the following criteria: 

  • Differentiated business – how novel the idea/product/service/business model/process is compared to what is available in the market
  • Feasibility of the business – whether the revenue model is sustainable
  • Potential market opportunity – how large the size of the target market is, and how the company intends to reach out to its customer segments
  • Management team – whether the founding team demonstrate passion and entrepreneurial spirit, and have the relevant technical and business skills to execute the idea.

If the AMP assesses that the applicant has met the eligibility and evaluation criteria, they will provide a letter of recommendation to the applicant. Applicants must then attach this letter in an online application form to be submitted to Enterprise Singapore within 2 weeks from the receipt of the letter of recommendation. Enterprise Singapore will inform the applicant and AMP on the application status for the grant.

The grant is open to all Singaporeans/Permanent Residents who meet the following conditions at the time of application:

  • The team has at least 3 SC/PRs, who are the main applicants of the grant;
  • At least 2 of the 3 main applicants are first-time founders;
  • The main applicants who are first-time founders must hold a minimum of 30% equity in the company collectively;
  • The company must have a minimum 51% SC/PR shareholdings;
  • The company must not be more than 6 months of incorporation at the point of application to the AMP;
  • The 3 main applicants must contribute meaningfully to the company, and not be employed by another employer;
  • At least 2 of the 3 main applicants should be committed full time to the company, and must be key decision makers of the company;
  • The main applicant(s) must not have received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organization;
  • The proposed business idea must not be in the following list: cafes, restaurants, night clubs, lounges, bars, foot reflexology, massage parlours, gambling, prostitution, social escort services, employment agencies (including recruiting foreign work permit holders and workers/support staff, relocation services, and manpower services), and geomancy.
Click here to submit your pitch deck to an AMP, and if you have received a Letter of Recommendation from an AMP, you may submit an application to ESG here.

FAQs

When will the enhancements to the Startup SG Founder grant take effect?

The enhancements will take effect on 25 Sep 2020. Any applications received by ESG prior to this date will follow the current Startup SG Founder grant conditions, which include:
i. Grant amount of $30,000 over a 12-month period
ii. Co-matching ratio of 1:3 (ie. Founder(s) must raise $10,000 in capital)
iii. Only one main applicant required
Any applications received by ESG from 25 Sep 2020 onwards will follow the new Startup SG Founder grant conditions, (refer to Para 2.ii). Some key conditions include:
i. Increased grant amount of $50,000 over a 12-month period
ii. Reduced co-matching ratio of 1:5 (ie. co-investment of $10,000 required)
iii. Minimum 3 SC/PR employees (including the founder), two of whom must be first-time founders.

How will the grant be disbursed?

If the AMP wishes to recommend the application, the AMP will decide on appropriate milestones together with the applicant(s). The AMP’s recommended application and milestones will then be surfaced to ESG for vetting and approval. The grant will be disbursed in 2 tranches based on agreed project milestones. You will have up to 12 months from the date of letter of offer to meet the milestones to draw down on the grant.

Is the Startup SG Founder enhancement intended to be a one-off? Or will the S$150 million support startups with further enhancements in the future?

ESG continuously reviews all our programmes including the Startup SG Founder and its appointed AMPs. Any further enhancements will be subject to a review in FY2021. In addition, there are various forms of Startup SG support catered to different stages of startups, e.g. Startup SG Equity and Startup SG Tech schemes. The National Innovation Challenges were also recently launched to spur demand from companies and government agencies for innovative solutions by startups.

Some may consider joining a startup or pursuing entrepreneurship at this point in time as something fraught with risk. Why does ESG encourage individuals to pursue such pathways at this time?

Pursuing entrepreneurship in this time is challenging. But the Government is providing various forms of support to mitigate this risk.

a. The enhancement of Startup SG Founder programme is example. Startups under our Startup SG Founder scheme are closely supported and mentored by ESGappointed AMPs, who provide useful resources, coaching and networks for startups and entrepreneurs to tap on. There is also significant support from government effort and community-led initiatives to help the local startup ecosystem, to mitigate risks in pursuing entrepreneurship during this time.

b. In June 2020, the Special Situation Fund of S$285 million was launched to support promising startups with strong growth potential to continue with innovation and product development in Singapore.

c. The Startup SG Equity scheme was enhanced earlier this year with an additional S$300 million to catalyse more investments into Singapore-based deep-tech startups. Both are done through co-investments with the private sector. Several ecosystem partners have also stepped up to provide mentorship virtually to startups on a pro bono basis. For example, community builders AngelCentral and Found8 launched online sites that list tips and advisories for any startups during this tough time. VCs such as Antler also launched a call to invest in early-stage startups with solutions to tackle COVID-19. It will invest up to US$500,000 by this year in such startups, with the aim to generate more innovative solutions from startups to solve immediate challenges relating to the current pandemic crisis.

With the introduction of the “Train” track, does that mean that startup who wish to apply for the Startup SG Founder must attend the Venture Building programme first?

No. Startup founders who have ready business plans and do not require entrepreneurial training can continue to apply to any existing AMPs to be considered for the Startup SG Founder grant. The introduction of the “Train” track merely offers more support for entrepreneurs who wish to get training and advices for market validation of their business ideas before launching their startups.

Can I request for a face-to-face consultation? How do I set up a business? Who can help me?

If you would like to explore the various support available for startups, you may find it helpful to check out the Startup SG website (www.startupsg.gov.sg) or to make an appointment with one of the SME centres (https://partnersengage.enterprisesg.gov.sg/book-appointment). The business advisors will advise you more on the appropriate schemes and assistance for your business. ESG is unable to vet through or give comments on the business proposal, as ESG can only evaluate grant applications submitted in accordance to the stated requirements of the programme.

Click here for more Startup SG Founder FAQ.

Enhancements to Grants and Loan Scheme

In the Ministerial Statement made by DPM Heng Swee Keat on Mon, 5 Oct 2020, he stated that there will be an extended and enhanced support for firms and workers.

Companies looking to grow their businesses, increase productivity or expand overseas will soon be able to tap bigger grants and expanded loan schemes. These moves will provide more support for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic and help them to transform, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said as he announced the enhancements to several grant and loan schemes on Monday, Oct 12.

Market Readiness Assistance Grant

This grant provides Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with financial assistance to help take your business overseas. You will be rewarded a maximum of 2 MRA grants for each fiscal year. To be eligible for this grant, you need to:

  • Be registered or incorporated in Singapore; 
  • Have at least 30% local shareholder;
  • Have a group annual turnover not exceeding S$100 million per year based on most recent audit report or group employment not exceeding 200 employees.

Current Support Level

Up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs, including identifying business partners and setting up overseas.

New Support Level

Up to 80 per cent of qualifying costs from 1 Nov 2020 to 30 Sept 2021. Will also cover participation in virtual trade fairs from 1 Nov 2020. 

Enterprise Development Grant

The Enterprise Development Grant helps Singapore companies grow and transform. This grant funds qualifying project costs namely third party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost. To qualify for this grant, you need to:

  • Be a business entity registered and operating in Singapore
  • Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding
  • Be in a financially viable position to start and complete the project

Current Support Level

Up to 80 per cent of qualifying costs until 31 Dec 2020.

New Support Level

Higher support of up to 80 per cent extended by nine months to 30 Sept 2021, after which it will revert to up to 70 per cent.

Productivity Solutions Grant

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes.

For a start, PSG covers sector-specific solutions including the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction and landscaping industries. Other than sector-specific solutions, PSG also supports adoption of solutions that cut across industries, such as in areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking.

To help enterprise implement COVID-19 business continuity measures, the scope of generic solutions has expanded to include:

  • Online collaboration tools (including laptop-bundled remote working solutions); 
  • Virtual meeting and telephony tools;
  • Queue management systems;
  • Temperature screening solutions

SMEs can apply for PSG if they meet the following criteria:

  • Registered and operating in Singapore
  • Purchase/lease/subscription of the IT solutions of equipment must be used in Singapore
  • Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding; with Company’s group annual sales turnover less than S$100 million, OR less than 200 employers (selected solutions only)

Current Support Level

Up to 80 per cent of qualifying costs until 31 Dec 2020.

New Support Level

Higher support of up to 80 per cent extended by nine months to 30 Sept 2021, after which it will revert to up to 70 per cent.

Temporary Bridging Loan Programme

The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP) allows eligible enterprises to borrow up to S$5 million, with a repayment period of up to 5 years.

Under the scheme, interest rates charged by Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) are capped at a maximum interest rate of 5% per annum. 

To be eligible for TBLP, you need to:

  • Be a business entity that is registered and physically present in Singapore;
  • At least 30% local equity held directly or indirectly by Singaporean(s) and/or Singapore PR(s), determined by the ultimate individual ownership

Current Support Level

Loans of up to $5 million, with up to 90 per cent risk-sharing by the Government until 31 March 2021.

New Support Level

Loans of up to $3 million, with up to 70 per cent risk-sharing by the Government from 1 April to 30 Sept 2021.

Enterprise Financing Scheme - Project Loan

This programme helps enterprises finance the fulfillment of secured overseas projects.

The supportable loan types include:

  • Working Capital and Trade Loans
  • Equipment/ Machineries/ Vessels/ Other fixed assets
  • Guarantees

To be eligible for this loan, you are:

  • A Singaporean SME looking to finance the fulfilment of secured overseas projects.

You need to:

  • Be a business entity that is registered and physically present in Singapore.
  • Have at least 30% local equity held directly or indirectly by Singaporean(s) and/or Singapore PR(s), determined by the ultimate individual ownership,
  • Have a Maximum Borrower Group revenue cap of S$500 million for all companies…

Current Support Level

Loans of up to $50 million for secured overseas projects, with at least 50 per cent risk-sharing by the Government.

New Support Level

Expanded to allow construction companies to take up loans of up to $30 million for secured domestic projects, with at least 50 per cent risk-sharing by the Government, starting from 1 Jan 2021.

Enterprise Financing Scheme - Trade Loan

Finance trade needs, including:

  • Inventory / stock financing
  • Structures pre-delivery working capital (revolving working capital)
  • Factoring (with recourse) /bill of  invoice/ AR discounting 
  • Overseas working capital loan
  • Bank Guarantee (capped at 2 years tenure)

Eligibility:

  • Be a business entity that is registered and physically present in Singapore, and
  • At least 30% local equity held directly or indirectly by Singaporean(s) and/or Singapore PR(s), determined by the ultimate individual ownership, and
  • Have Group Annual Sales Turnover of not more than S$500 million

Current Support Level

Loans of up to $10 million, with up to 90 per cent risk-sharing by the Government until 31 March 2021.

New Support Level

Loans of up to $10 million, with up to 70 per cent risk-sharing by the Government from 1 April to 30 Sept 2021.

Government Grants – SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme

The SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme offers Employers a grant of up to S$15,000 per individual employed under the programe.

Background

The SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme is a work-learn programme that gives fresh graduates (within three years of graduation or Operationally Ready Date for National Servicemen) from polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) a head-start in careers related to their discipline of study. It provides them with more opportunities, after graduation, to build on the skills and knowledge they acquired in school, and better supports their transition into the workforce.

Participating employers can recruit local fresh talent, within three years of graduation or the Operationally Ready Date for National Servicemen and prepare them to take up suitable job roles. Participants in the programme can look forward to a structured career progression pathway within the organisation.

Benefits for the Employers

You will be able to groom and retain suitable talent with the relevant skills and aptitude to meet the needs of your company.

You will also receive a grant of up to $15,000 per individual placed in the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme to defray the costs of developing and providing structured on-job-training and to encourage them to set out career progression pathways.

* Terms and Conditions apply

To sign up, please visit ELP portal.

Government Grants – SME Talent Programme (STP)

The SME Talent Programme (STP) offers up to 70% funding support to help you defray the cost of the monthly stipend when you engage students through internships.

Funding
SMEs are eligible for up to 70% funding support to defray the cost of the internship stipend. Here is the minimum amount you should pay interns:

At least S$800 a month for ITE and polytechnic students
At least S$1,000 a month for university students.

Eligibility
SMEs should meet the following criteria:

  • At least 30% local shareholding
  • Group annual turnover of up to S$100 million OR group employment size of up to 200 workers
  • Offer potential career opportunities with a clear job description and career progression path
  • Possess sound Human Resource processes
  • Willing to participate in Enterprise Singapore’s Human Resource Maturity Diagnostics (HRMD) to facilitate future capability upgrading

Apply

Apply Approach the following Approved-in-Principle (AIP) partners to apply for this programme. The STP AIP partners will assess and qualify SMEs, and will play an active role in matching suitable student interns to the participating SMEs. The STP AIP Partners may be contacted for more information about the programme, eligibility and application process.

STP AIP Partner

Email address

Action Community for Entrepreneurship
Association for Small and Medium Enterprises
Restaurant Association of Singapore
Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association
Singapore Manufacturing Federation
Singapore Retailers Association

Government Grants – Changes to Work-Life Grant (effective from 1 July 2018)

What is WorkPro?
Launched in Mar 2013, WorkPro encourages employers to implement progressive employment practices to benefit Singaporeans through job redesign, age management practices and flexible work arrangements.

Employers can receive the following funding support under the enhanced WorkPro:

  • Age Management Grant
  • Job Redesign Grant
  • Work-Life Grant (effective from 1 July 2018)

NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) are the official Programme Partners appointed to market and administer WorkPro.

Who can register for WorkPro?
Any company registered or incorporated in Singapore including societies and non-profit organisations such as charities and voluntary welfare organisations.

What are the changes?

  • Requiring each company to have just one employee, instead of 20 per cent of all employees, to be on flexible work arrangements to qualify for grant.
  • Funding employers $2,000 per employee over two years, up to 35 employees.
  • To make job sharing a more attractive option, the enhanced Work-Life Grant will provide a higher incentive of $3,500 per employee, instead of the current $2,000.
How to apply?

For more information on WorkPro, employers may contact the Programme Partners. Their contact details are:

SNEF
Website: www.snef.org.sg
Email: workpro@snef.sg

NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute)
Website: www.e2i.com.sg
Email: followup@e2i.com.sg

Click here for
Factsheet