A happy 55th National Day to all Singaporeans! 9 August is a date all Singaporeans come together to commemorate Singapore’s road to independence. Every year (except for this year’s), I would try balloting for tickets so that my family and I can soak up the parade’s atmosphere. Of course, most years, I get relegated to watching the telecast instead. A beer in hand, a special dinner spread and my family watching with is nothing to complain about either!
Nonetheless, this year’s National Day had been extra special. It had not just been one to celebrate another year of independence. It had also been one to unite and overcome the ongoing pandemic, emerge stronger and create a booming economy again.
Singapore: A Success Story Still Being Written
We have achieved much throughout our 55 years of history. Our greatest asset is each other and all of this would not have been possible without
- visionary leaders who chart our courses
- tenacious people who do not stop or give up
- an entrepreneurial and innovative culture, and
- a kampung spirit that binds us regardless of race, language or religion.
This year, we have seen and experienced the challenges brought on by the coronavirus. But let’s not stop there — there are opportunities to discover. With the right mindset, resources and national unity, we can continue to write the Singapore success story together.
SMEs are the Key Pillar of Singapore’s Economy
(Image credit: Medium.com)
Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form the largest bulk of our economy and is key to Singapore’s economic success. They contribute 49% of our GDP and provide jobs for about 72% of Singapore’s workforce.
Even though SMEs form 99% of all enterprises in Singapore, they are vulnerable to:
- increased competition
- rapidly changing market demands
- technological changes
- capacity constraints surrounding information, innovation and creativity
As a fellow SME, we at BRDGE know SMEs very well. I am confident that our P2P investment platform is sensitive to the needs of SMEs because BRDGE has been built through the eyes of an SME, by an SME.
SMEs Face Tough Winds Ahead
(Source: Ministry of Trade & Industry)
2020 so far has been tough on all businesses, the economic impact of Covid-19 across the globe is apparent. For months, many businesses in Singapore had to cease operations or at least downscale, raising operating costs higher and depressing revenues.
Even though we have moved on from a full circuit breaker to today’s Phase 2, we are still treading very carefully to avoid a Round 2. The government has been cautious, and businesses and individuals extremely prudent. Until a silver bullet is found, SMEs will continue to be subject to strong economic headwinds.
The Worst Recession in Singapore Since 9 August 1965
In July, the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) reported that we are experiencing a technical recession. Compared to July 2019, Singapore’s GDP has shrunk by 12.6% in Q2 2020. Furthermore, MTI projects that our economy will shrink by 4-7% for the whole of 2020.
Articles about business closures are now a familiar sight, splashed across various media outlets. I know of a few that I used to patronise, but now they are no more.
On the SMEs that have found a little cranny to shelter from the storm, they have had to make painful cost-cutting measures to survive. Some downsized their headcount, some closed branches to lower their operational costs and some put a hold on non-essential expenditures.
Retrenchments doubled in Q2; further retrenchments are expected; unemployment figures at a high; consumer spending has taken on a cautious beat.
Standing Up for Singapore, Standing Together as One
(Image credit: People’s Association)
In every dark place, the smallest light shines the brightest. It is during tough times that we Singaporeans prove that we are the toughest. To stand with one another, Singaporeans have:
- Given out free masks to those who need them more
- Supporting freelancers and those in the gig economy
- Extending help to foreigners stuck in Singapore
- Promoted the kampung spirit by doing chores for one another
- Providing supplies for essential workers and the underprivileged
We’ve also seen how many businesses adapted and changed to make the best of the situation. Many identified business redundancies, pivoted to new business models and adopted new technologies. The F&B sector is one such example, adopting apps like GrabFood, FoodPanda, Deliveroo and WhyQ to deliver their products and market their brands. The retail sector is yet another example. The circuit breaker has proved to be a boom for retail brands on online marketplaces. People are flocking to marketplaces like Lazada, Qoo10, RedMart and Carousell to shop.
Thanks to fellow Singaporeans who have chosen to support local SMEs, these efforts are paying off and encouraging other SMEs to think the same.
Bridging the Investment Gap is BRDGE’s Mission
Behind every decision we make at BRDGE, we always put the interests of investors and SMEs at the heart.
- What goals do investors and SMEs want to achieve?
- What do they need to achieve those goals?
- How can we bridge the gaps, and do so quickly?
We take pride in our role in driving the Singaporean economy forward by:
- Providing Investors, both new and seasoned, with a safe, easy and informative platform to conduct their investments
- Cultivating a fertile platform for SMEs to acquire seed financing for growth
Our mission to help our Investors and SMEs to capitalise on growth opportunities could not have come at a more crucial period. We want to do so by:
- growing our community of investors
- maintaining and looking for promising local SMEs
- maintaining default rates at the lowest
- keeping interest rates at their most optimal.
While we practice safe distancing in our fight against the coronavirus, let’s stand together with one another in spirit. The frontline heroes, the essential services, the key economic players, the government and every other Singaporean, this is the time to unite, rebuild and recover.
Because only together, we are better.
Kevin Wong, BRDGE CEO