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Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the SICCI-DBS Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards (SIEA 2018)

Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the SICCI-DBS Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards (SIEA 2018)


Dr R Theyvendran, Chairman, Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry;

Mr Kesavan Sathyamoorthy, Organising Chairman, Singapore Indian Entrepreneurship Awards;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentleman,


1.            Good evening.  I am pleased to join you tonight for the Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards (SIEA) 2018.

Economic Overview & Preparing for the Next Phase of Economic Growth

2.            The Indian business community in Singapore is an integral part of our enterprise ecosystem.  We have a strong base of respected Indian business leaders who have not only succeeded in their ventures, but have also actively contributed to our economy and society.  The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) has played an important role in supporting Indian business leaders through the years.  The SICCI-DBS Indian Entrepreneur Awards is therefore a tribute both to achievements of Indian entrepreneurs in Singapore, as well as the role SICCI has played in nurturing the Indian business community. 

3.            Tonight’s event occurs against the backdrop of positive economic growth.  Singapore’s economy grew by 3.6% in real terms in 2017, higher than the 2.4% growth in 2016.  While this can be attributed in large part to the global economic recovery, our transformation efforts have also played a significant role, enabling our enterprises and workers to benefit from new economic trends.

4.            We must continue to build on this effort to prepare ourselves for the challenges and opportunities of the future economy.  We must adroitly navigate the major shifts in the coming decade, which include a greater economic tilt towards Asia and the emergence of digital technologies.  These shifts will have a profound impact on our economic environment, business models and the nature of jobs.  To remain competitive, it is imperative that our people deepen their knowledge and skills, and our enterprises strengthen their capabilities and venture beyond Singapore to overseas markets.

Importance of Developing a Vibrant Ecosystem for Entrepreneurship

5.            Successful entrepreneurs share key attributes – courage to take the road less travelled; resilience in the face of adversity; and perseverance to learn from failures and keep trying.  It is this unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit - exemplified by tonight’s award recipients and many others - that we must continue to celebrate and nurture as part of a vibrant enterprise ecosystem in Singapore.

6.            It starts with helping our young entrepreneurs and startups to thrive.  That is why, in March 2017, government launched Startup SG – an overarching effort to position Singapore as a launchpad for startups to grow and scale.  Startup SG will support young businesses through mentorship for first-time entrepreneurs, co-investment to catalyse private equity and grants for the commercialisation of technology solutions.

7.            The new Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) streamlines existing grants and makes it easier for businesses to adopt pre-qualified IT solutions and equipment.  More customised support for an enterprise’s specific needs in capability development and internationalisation, is also available through the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG).   

8.            More broadly, our government agencies are reorganising themselves to better serve Singapore enterprises, especially SMEs and startups.  In a few days, I will officially launch Enterprise Singapore, formed through the merger of SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore.  Enterprise Singapore will build on the efforts of SPRING and IE, and adopt an enterprise-centric approach in its efforts to assist companies according to their stage of growth, the industry in which it operates, and its overseas markets of interest.  

9.            With the formation of Enterprise Singapore, our economic agencies will be in a better position to provide total support to Singapore enterprises and position them for success in the future economy.

Partnerships with Industry Key for Securing our Future Growth

10.         Industry transformation is a complex, large scale and long haul effort; to succeed we need strong partnerships and the involvement of all stakeholders.   

11.         In particular, Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), who have an in-depth understanding of industry needs and strong business networks, are key partners.   TACs can make a significant contribution by helping their members to adopt digital technologies, go overseas and transform their industries, so as to enhance competitiveness and sustain growth.   

12.         In this regard, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of SICCI, which has served as an important bridge for the Indian business community, enabling its members to gain access to new business opportunities, understand and benefit from government initiatives, and embrace new technology and productivity tools.

13.         One example is the collaboration between SICCI and DBS bank, as part of the SIEA 2018, to work with award nominees to develop a 3-year business plan to guide young entrepreneurs.  Another is the Red Pill program, which has helped 70 Indian Singaporeans since December 2014 through its mentorship and training programme.  These are important industry-led and TAC-led initiatives that complement Government programmes.  The entrepreneurial journey is challenging, and it is only with industry and government coming together as partners that we can create a nurturing ecosystem for the success of our businesses.  

14.         I am also heartened that the SME Centre@SICCI has functioned as a key node since 2005 for new businesses and SMEs to seek assistance, advice and participate in group-based capability upgrading projects.  In the last 3 years, SME Centre@SICCI has reached out to more than 9,000 SMEs for advisory sessions.  It will also be boosting its in-house advisory competence, and work on the development of Human Resource Management related content and toolkits to further assist businesses in their growth.  In addition, SICCI has access to the Plug and Play Network (PPN), which comprises a network of in-market partners that will complement Enterprise Singapore’s overseas presence and strengthen in-market help to companies.  


15.         In closing, let me once again warmly congratulate the award recipients on your achievements, and to wish you the very best as you take your businesses to further heights.  This award is fitting recognition of your excellence in business, adaptability in an ever-changing operating environment, and commendable corporate citizenship in supporting social causes.   I also commend SICCI on its various initiatives to support entrepreneurship particularly within the Indian community in Singapore.

16.          I wish you all every success in your ventures, and a pleasant and enjoyable evening.  Thank you.

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