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SCCCI: Keeping ahead of the game, 110 years on

SCCCI is aggressively pushing itself to reach out to members and meet their needs

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"In the past we talk about improving at the individual level. But now we want the whole sector to come along. I think that's the multiplier effect, compared (to upgrading companies) one by one," says Mr Chua.

Singapore

ORGANISING a cruise and carving out a pool of shared services - ranging from secretarial or book-keeping services to even renting out shared meeting spaces - for member trade organisations are some of the key items high on the to-do list of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI).

As the chamber celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, some might wonder if it has lost its focus. They couldn't be more wrong. Indeed, there are several ways the SCCCI is aggressively pushing itself to reach out to members and meet their needs.

One of the larger projects the chamber is undertaking is the Trade Association Hub (TA Hub). The idea of a TA Hub was first mooted in May 2014 during the SCCCI's third Trade Association Congress. The TA Hub was subsequently announced during the Committee of Supply debate in 2015. The SCCCI committed to be the hub's first anchor chamber, and has since helped bring on board 16 of its trade association partners to co-locate at the TA Hub.

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The fourth floor of the new space - a 40,000 square feet space for which the SCCCI has committed - is now fully occupied by the chamber and 12 other trade associations. New trade associations that choose to be co-located at the TA Hub will likely be housed on the third storey of the building.

The TA Hub will be more than a space solution. A large part of the allure is the "software" - facilities that smaller associations can tap including secretariat support and other areas of collaboration such as skills upgrading and business co-creation.

After all, trade associations can help their members only if they themselves are productive, notes Thomas Chua, SCCCI president.

To that end the chamber is looking to provide shared secretariat services for trade associations that find it is not cost effective to run their own.

"We can help them organise meetings, take minutes, even draw up scripts for their key personnel. And more importantly we can help them organise events, even overseas study trips . . . Smaller TAs (trade associations) always find difficulties finding skilled staff with the right experience. (We are offering them the option to) buy the services they need or rent a meeting space and still ensure a good standard of secretariat support."

The SCCCI is particularly keen to reach out to trade associations from the traditional sectors to help them develop industry manpower and productivity plans to secure the necessary government funding to help them with their industry transformation.

The chamber added it will consider working with multiple trade associations that are complementary to develop cluster-level plans.

"We want to make sure our SMEs are future-ready. (And to do that) strengthening our TAs is an important strategy . . . In the past we talk about improving at the individual level. But now we want the whole sector to come along. I think that's the multiplier effect, compared (to upgrading companies) one by one," says Mr Chua.

While these preparatory work will keep the chamber busy for most of 2016, it is not all work and no play. As part of their 110th anniversary celebrations, they are holding three key events in September. These include the Trade Association Congress focused on the theme of industry upgrading, a networking cruise organised for young entrepreneurs, and a 110th Anniversary Gala Dinner.

"(For the cruise) we will bring in international speakers and also break off into groups to continue to talk about family business issues . . . This is organised by our Young Entrepreneur Network, and we also decided to extend this to the youth groups of the Chinese chambers of other Asean countries."

The SCCCI earlier this year concluded a comprehensive study of family businesses with PricewaterhouseCoopers. It plans to organise a series of family-business sharing sessions focused on the theme of succession and business transformation to further this conversation.

It is timely to address this issue as businesses that were founded during Singapore's industrialisation drive during the 1960s and 1970s undergo a transition from one generation to the next.

"As we consider the relative youth of Singapore's family businesses, it will be a transition from the first to second or second to third generation.

"As we move ahead with the times, the chamber is committed to grooming the younger generation, passing on the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit, and enabling them to continue serving the community."

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