Best SME Grants in Singapore

Ashwika Goswami

Ashwika Goswami

Last updated 21 May, 2024

Wanting to grow your small business, but unsure how? Say hello to government-funded SME grants, the perfect solution to eliminate any financial woes.

As it turns out, business loans from banks aren’t the only way to fund your small business. In fact, the Singapore government provides numerous business grants and support scheme options that can be used to finance any and all areas of your business. The best part? You are not required to repay any funding provided, meaning no monthly repayments, interest rates, or loan tenures.

Talk about a dream come true!

Table of contents:


What are SME grants?

SME grants, or small business grants, encompass any type of loan used by business owners to fund business-related expenses and are usually provided by the Singapore government. They are quite similar to business loans that can be borrowed from banks, but a key difference is that SME grants are much easier to qualify for.

There are numerous grants are available, each targeting a different aspect of business management, such as growth and employee upskilling.

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Types of businesses that can apply

As the name suggests, SME grants are offered to smaller businesses based in Singapore.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry defines SMEs as businesses that are registered and operating in Singapore with less than 200 employees total or group annual sales that do not exceed S$100 million. Additionally, there are other grants available that are provided to all businesses, regardless of size.

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Government funding support levels and eligibility

Typically, all government-funded business grants and support schemes fall into one of the four categories:

  • Enterprise Support Packages,
  • Business Capabilities Development & Transformation,
  • Business Loan & Enterprise Financing Support, and
  • Workforce and Human Capital Development.

Each category contains modes of funding that can be used to finance new business ventures. 


Enterprise Support package

Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rebate

Available exclusively to SMEs that receive little or no tax rebate, the CIT rebate covers 50% of all corporate tax payable by a taxpaying company. Furthermore, you may even receive a S$2,000 cash payout provided that your company has employed one or more local employees in 2023.

However, do note that there is a S$40,000 cap on total rebate benefits and eligibility criteria that need to be met:

  • The company must have made CPF contributions to at least one local employee i.e. a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident in 2023. The employee must not be a shareholder who is also a director of the company.

Business Capabilities Development and Transformation

Energy Efficiency Fund (E2F)

If your SME deals in manufacturing, you’re in luck!  E2F can help co-pay up to 70% of qualifying costs, including but not limited to external manpower and equipment, technology, or professional services. According to the Singapore Association of Trade and Commerce, prospective E2F applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The applicant must be either a Singapore-registered owner or manufacturing facility operator with an SSIC code that begins with 10 or 32 (eg: 10XXX or 32XXX.) The manufacturing facility must be situated in Singapore as well.
  • The applicant’s annual group sales turnover must be S$500 million or less.

Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

Looking to bring in more equipment and technology for your SME? Then the Productivity Solutions Grant might just be what you’re looking for. PSG funds solutions such as data analytics, customer management, and even retail, food logistics, and construction. In other words, PSG covers both industry-specific as well as more general solutions. The eligibility criteria is as follows:

  • SME must be registered and operating in Singapore.
  • IT solutions that were purchased, leased, or subscribed to must but used in Singapore.
  • Minimum 30% local shareholding
  • Less than 200 employees OR  Company's Group annual sales turnover must be less than S$100 million

Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

True to its name, the Enterprise Development Grant helps fund expenses related to the growth of your business, covering costs such as software, equipment, third-party consultancy fees, and any other costs falling under core capabilities, innovation and productivity, and market access. EDG is not SME-exclusive and can be granted to any business provided that it meets the following criteria:

  • Business entity registered and operating in Singapore
  • Minimum 30% local shareholding
  • Have enough financial resources to start and complete the project.

Business Improvement Funds (BIF)

BIF is just about every tourism-based business owner’s dream. Administered by the Singapore Tourism Board, BIF covers qualifying costs such as internal manpower costs, professional services from third parties, travel costs, and even software in certain cases. The BIF is available for application to 

  • Tourism companies taking on capability development initiatives
  • Technology companies that create innovative technology products and services for tourism businesses.

Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)

MRA and overseas expansion go hand in hand. Another mode of funding available only to SME’s, MRA covers up to 70% of eligible costs (capped at S$100,000 per company) for expenses such as overseas market promotions and set-up, and overseas business development. Sounds like a dream come true? A minor detail to be wary of is that each application will only receive funding for one overseas market. Interested applicants must be mindful of the eligibility requirements as well:

  • SME must be registered and operating in Singapore.
  • Minimum 30% local shareholding
  • Less than 200 employees OR  Company's Group annual sales turnover must be less than S$100 million
  • The overseas market must be an entirely new one to the SME. i.e. the SME must not have exceeded S$100,000 in overseas sales in each of the last three preceding years.

Business Loans and Enterprise funding support

Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS)

The Enterprise Financing Scheme actually comprises seven different loans available to both SMEs and larger businesses: Green, SME Working Capital Loan, SME Fixed Assets Loan, Venture Debt Loan, Trade Loan, Project Loan, Mergers & Acquisitions Loan. All these loans, however, share a single eligibility criteria:

  • Business entity registered and physically present in Singapore.
  • at least 30% local equity must be held directly or indirectly by Singaporean(s) and/or Singapore PR(s). This is determined by the ultimate individual ownership.
  • Group Annual Sales Turnover must not exceed S$500 million.

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Workforce and Human Capital Development

SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC)

Level up your business and your employees with SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit. SFEC allows you to help upskill and expand the capabilities of your employees. Successful applicants can expect to receive a one-time sum of S$10,000, which is expected to cover up to 90% of support initiative expenses or other similar costs.  SFEC is usually offered as additional funding to some of the schemes above, provided that the SME in question fits the eligibility criteria:

  • Contributed at least S$750 Skills Development Levy over the qualifying period
  • Have employed a minimum of three Singapore Citizens (SCs) or Permanent Residents (PRs) every month over the same period
  • Have not qualified for SFEC before

Senior Employment Credit (SEC)

As part of the SEC, employers can receive up to 8% of the wages paid to Singaporean employees who are aged 55 and above and earn up to S$4,000 a month. The SEC provides various levels of funding for different age groups.

Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS)

The Progressive Wage Credit Scheme keeps both your business and your employees rewarded. Here’s how: With PWCS, the government helps co-fund mandatory and voluntarily raised-wages of lower-wage workers. Similar to the SEC, there are various levels of fundings for various wage tiers, with the maximum total wage increase being S$3,000.

CPF Transition Offset (CTO)

The CTO can be used for businesses to offset the increase in company CPF contributions for employees aged 55-70. As part of this scheme, the government will provide employers with 50% (capped at S$6000) of the year’s increase in CPF contributions.

Enabling Employment Credit

Should you have any employees with disabilities, the EEC might be of use to you. The EEC provided up to S$600 a month per employee to cover the wages of Singaporean employees with disabilities, provided that they are  aged 13 and above and earn less than S$4,000 a month.

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Grant amount

Depending on the grant you apply for, you may receive anywhere between S$3,000 to S$100,000 in funding. However, some grants only cover a percentage of costs incurred, so you may not receive the maximum grant amount.

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How to apply for grants

Most grants can be applied for through the Business Grants Portal. Here’s how:

  • Log into the Business Grants Portal. Do remember to use CorpPass while logging in for a speedy application!
  • Click on ‘Get new grant.’
  • Fill in the necessary details. Do note that you will be required to submit a proposal, vendor details, cost details, and other similar documents. You will also be asked to explain the forecasted impact of the grant on your business. 
  • Last but not least, simply declare your details to be true and submit! If your grant application is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer within 4-10 weeks of your application.

Do take note that certain grants, such as the Energy and Efficiency Fund, have a separate application process where you might need to email the organisation in question. As a safety measure, you may head to the Singapore Association Trade and Commerce website and verify the application method.

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What are other avenues for funding if you fail to get a grant?

Should your business not receive a grant, fret not! There are multiple other viable and effective methods of funding.

Personal loans, for example, are known to be taken by many a business owner, usually to either start or grow a business. Personal loans are especially great because many of them provide instant cash disbursement, meaning that you can receive your approved loan amount within 24 hours of submitting your application.

Certain personal loans, such as the one offered by DBS, let you borrow up to 10 times your monthly income with tenures typically ranging from 1-5 years.

Furthermore, personal loans usually come with low interest rates, making them a popular choice among business owners. 

Best Personal Loan With Low-Interest Rates (S$30,000 Loan on a 3-year tenure)

Personal loan

Flat Annual Interest Rate (p.a.)

Effective Interest Rate (p.a.)

Processing Fees

Estimated Monthly Payment

HSBC Personal Loan

3.60%

6.50%

S$0

S$920.00

SCB CashOne Personal Loan

2.88%

5.84%

S$0

S$905.33

CIMB Personal loan

2.80%

5.28%

S$0

S$904.00

UOB Personal Loan

2.88%

5.43%

S$0

S$905.33

DBS/POSB Personal Loan

2.68%

5.43%

1% (S$300)

S$905.33

Citi Quick Cash Loan

3.45%

6.5%

S$0

S$919.47

OCBC Extra Cash Loan

5.43%

11.47%

S$100

S$1,145.71

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Who is eligible for SME grants?

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, SMEs are business entities registered and operating in Singapore with less than 200 group employees in total or group annual sales that do not exceed S$100 million. Any business that fits the above description may apply for an SME grant.

Q: Who is eligible for the PSG grant?

The Productivity Solutions Grant, or PSG, is a grant that aims to boost the productivity of your business. With it, you can fund expenses such as customer management, or even food expenses-or any other cost that could potentially increase your businesses output. As mentioned above, the eligibility criteria is as follows:

  • SME must be registered and operating in Singapore.
  • IT solutions that were purchased, leased, or subscribed to must but used in Singapore.
  • Minimum 30% local shareholding
  • Less than 200 employees OR  Company's Group annual sales turnover must be less than S$100 million

Q: Who is eligible for the EDG grant?

The Enterprise Development Grant could just be your biggest ally in growing your business. It helps cover expenses such as software development and new equipment. To be eligible, your business must

  • Be a business entity registered and conducting operations in Singapore
  • Minimum 30% local shareholding
  • Have enough financial resources to start and complete the project.

Q: Who is eligible for the IMDA grant?

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) does offer funding of up to S$600,000 through the Media Talent Progression Programme (MTPP), which helps support media-based projects undertaken by businesses in Singapore. Interested applicants or businesses must fulfill the eligibility criteria:

Q: What is the grant received from Enterprise Singapore?

SME owners can receive the Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant from Enterprise Singapore. The former may be used to fund expenses related to productivity and output while the latter covers costs acquired to grow your business. More information can be found above.

 

Read these next:
5 Key Reasons Why Successful SMEs Take Business Loans
How to Apply for a Business Loan?
Best SME Business Loans In Singapore
A Guide To Business Insurance For SMEs (And How Much They Cost)
AMEX Survey: How Are Small Local Businesses Faring And What Does That Mean For Us? 

 

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