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ASME, SBF launch funds to support migrant workers, SMEs and employees

SINGAPORE'S Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) on Friday launched a fundraising initiative to raise a total of S$500,000 for the migrant worker community, in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Foundation.

The ASME-SBF Foundation Compassion Fund for Migrant Workers' Centre aims to raise S$300,000 from the local SME community, and this sum will be matched with a S$200,000 grant from the SBF Foundation.

ASME noted that Singapore's forefathers were migrant workers too, and that the efforts of migrant workers today "continue to be an economic force that contributes to the building of Singapore".

"Our migrant workers play an important part in building the foundation of Singapore's infrastructure and economy," said ASME president Kurt Wee. "During a critical time such as this, we believe it is crucial to provide them with the support and assistance that they need, and to show our appreciation for their efforts."

On Thursday, SBF Foundation had announced plans to set up industry-led Compassion Funds to help employees in need, promising dollar-for-dollar matching of funds raised by participating trade association and chambers (TACs), up to S$200,000 per TAC. The ASME-SBF Foundation Compassion Fund launched on Friday is one of these funds.

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The Compassion Funds are the foundation's inaugural effort to rally SBF members and industry leaders to care for their employees, workers and the community at large. They are targeted at lower income earners affected by unexpected personal or family crises.

The SBF Foundation aims to partner at least 10 TACs to help at least 8,000 employees in need of financial assistance.

"We aim to have the SBF Foundation Compassion Fund form the framework for our members to pool resources and collectively support employees in need," SBF Foundation chairman Hsieh Fu Hua. "I am grateful to ASME for leading the SME community to support the migrant workers."

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, whose call for inclusiveness within the Singapore community inspired the ASME fund, said he was heartened to see the business community coming forward to help migrant workers.

"It is a very tough time for businesses. Yet the businesses are doing this," Mr Shanmugam said. "Migrant workers are facing an uncertain future, and they will be very grateful for these efforts. It has been tough for them as well."

The Singapore government has said it will match the public donation made to the Migrant Workers' Centre's charity, the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund. The amount that will be matched has not been revealed; ASME hopes to obtain this information when it announces its fundraising results.

On Thursday, SBF launched another initiative to support SMEs in sustaining and growing their businesses.

It partnered Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on the Rising in Support of Enterprises (RISE) programme, which aims to establish a S$2.5 million fund to help strengthen and transform businesses. ESG's SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience (STEER) programme will match S$1 for every S$2 contributed to this fund by SBF.

SBF members with a paid-up capital of not more than S$5 million can apply to the RISE fund for support of up to S$500 to offset the cost of qualifying activities conducted by SBF, its programme partners and other TACs. Eligible activities will be indicated on SBF's and the participating TACs' websites as "Business Growth" or "Capability Upgrading" programmes, and will focus on topics such as digital transformation, corporate sustainability, crisis leadership and post-Covid-19 growth. 

More details on the application process will be made available by June 30, and the RISE programme will run from July 1, 2020 to Dec 31, 2021 or until the fund is exhausted.

SBF expects at least 5,000 of its SME members to benefit from the RISE fund.

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