THE government intends to increase the budget of the Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) scheme as SME Centres enter the "second phase" of their outreach.
Minister of Statefor Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said this in a speech at the partnership agreement signing ceremony between American Express and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme).
"For ICV alone, we have seen a tremendous increase in application (numbers). And because of that we have to enter the second phase, for the SME Centres to reach out to more, probably in a different shape or form or size. We have had more than 10,000 SMEs apply and we are looking to double that in the future," said Mr Teo.
"And I hope with the increase in application, more and more SMEs will benefit and contribute to our productivity target. For the ICV scheme, we intend to increase the budget to allow more to have access to it."
Mr Teo added that micro-enterprises would be the focus moving forward given that they form a greater challenge to reach in terms of education and hitting productivity targets.
The partnership agreement saw American Express and Asme agree to collaborate to help small and medium enterprise (SMEs) in Singapore strengthen and grow their business.
Through this collaboration, thousands of American Express merchants in Singapore can look forward to being affiliate members of Asme in 2015. This will enable them to tap Asme's network, gain access to a wealth of industry expertise and better utilise government assistance schemes and grants.
The partnership is an extension of the cooperative relationship between American Express and Asme. In August, American Express launched the Merchant Sweepstakes Programme, a five-month campaign that awards S$5,000 business grants and a one-year complimentary Asme Affiliate membership to 10 SMEs.
Asme's SME Centres see between 500 and 600 SMEs per month now, said Asme president Kurt Wee, adding that he expects this number to increase exponentially with the partnership agreement.
Kevin Alcott, vice-president and general manager, global merchant services Singapore and Thailand of American Express, added that American Express will work closely with Asme to put together programmes for their members.
"Any of the programmes we see are beneficial to our merchant base we'll be finding ways to help them out and finding ways to tailor them to the specific segments," said Mr Alcott.
There is already a line-up of collaborative events for the coming year, including a seminar on the evolution of e-marketplaces, a networking event, and a study tour to visit an established organisation and create opportunities to exchange ideas.
Various Mandarin Chapter events are also in store, including the Singapore Economic and Budget Convention 2015, Enterprise Development and Productivity Forum, and The Art of War for Business.