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Business Advice

New website lists funds available for SMEs

iSprint aims to introduce IT to help SMEs become more productive
The Straits Times - January 18, 2012
By: Hellen Tan
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New website lists funds available for SMEs Mr Wong Li Loon (left) and his son, Sherman, of Chye Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant. -- ST PHOTO: JULIAN TAY

Chye Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant in Sembawang had a revolution recently - it installed an electronic point-of-sale (POS) system to manage its accounts.

Before, for 20 years or more, pen-and-paper accounting had forced its owner, Mr Wong Li Loon, to stay up till 2am to tally the day's takings. He is up again at dawn so that he can be at the wet market to buy fresh produce. He is also the cook.

His son, Mr Sherman Wong, who helps out part-time at the restaurant, thought his 61-year-old father was not getting enough rest.

Last November, the younger Wong had the POS system installed.

Now, with the press of a few buttons, the system generates a full report and his father is home by about midnight after the shop closes at 10.30pm.

The system, which cost about $3,000 from local retail IT solutions vendor Suntoyo Technology, has a touchscreen display and its software is in English and Chinese, so its waiters can be easily trained to use it.

The restaurant paid 50 per cent of the cost and obtained an iSprint grant to fund the rest.

iSprint stands for Increase SME Productivity with Infocomm Adoption and Transformation.

It aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are new to IT to computerise and become more productive. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) administers the funds.

SMEs can ask for $1,500 to buy packaged accounting software or up to $25,000 to acquire specialised hardware or software.

iSprint is one of the many types of funding available at Way to Go, Singapore (www.waytogo.sg), a new website launched two weeks ago by the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council.

Way to Go, Singapore is also the name of the council's new campaign to drive national productivity.

Visitors to the website will find a comprehensive list of funds, training programmes and scholarships available to companies. This saves companies from having to visit several sites to find out what is available.

The Inland Revenue Authority's Productivity and Innovation Credit programme is on the list.

So is Spring Singapore's Technology Innovation Programme, which will pay up to half the cost of a tech innovation project, if it is done by a single company, and up to 70 per cent, if it is carried out by a consortium of SMEs and non-SMEs.

The programme grant covers costs for areas such as manpower, intellectual property rights, consultancy, prototyping, equipment and materials.

The website also details education development centres such as the Association of SMEs and the several chambers of commerce, as well as organisations which can help businesses to be more productive, including the Economic Development Board, Building and Construction Authority, Ministry of Health and Singapore Tourism Board.

Sixteen sectors, including health care, social services, construction, retail, electronics, manufacturing and finance, will receive priority in this productivity drive.

 

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