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Beyond PIC: Alternative funding for your business
When it comes to SME grants, the most well-known one for technology funding is the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme. This scheme, however, is set to phase out, as announced in the 2016 Budget. With effect from Aug 1, 2016, the cash payout rate for the PIC will be lowered from 60% to 40%. While the 400% tax deduction remains unchanged, the scheme as a whole expires in 2018.
"If this grant is no longer the most viable option for your business, there are a few alternatives that could ease your SME's financial burdens."
Enhanced iSprint Scheme
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's Enhanced iSprint Scheme specifically targets enterprises looking to improve their technology. It offers funding of up to 80% for packaged solutions to eligible SMEs.
If you sign up for the scheme's Intermediate IT packaged solution, you can even receive perks like up to 50% off broadband and wireless services from StarHub, with guaranteed high-speed connection — a definite leg up in this mobile age.
Eligibility: To qualify you need a group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100m or group employment of not more than 200 employees.
With help in these areas, SMEs can embark on consultancy projects like a professional analysis of past financial performance or the designing of market competitive strategies.
The ICV also goes beyond consultancy project, helping businesses improve productivity by implementing Integrated Solutions. These solutions include Enhanced Point-of-Sales (POS) Systems, ideal for those in retail and Mobile ordering and Payment Systems, which benefits most SMEs. To see if your required integrated solution is covered by the ICV, visit the SPRING website.
In total, businesses can claim up to eight separate vouchers valued at $5,000 each, at a maximum of two vouchers for each four capability areas.
Eligibility: To qualify you need a group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100m or group employment of not more than 200 employees and a minimum of 30% local shareholding.
SME Mezzanine Growth Fund
Aimed at providing mezzanine capital to qualifying companies, the mezzanine growth fund budget has been increased from $100 million to $150 million this year.
For those uncertain of how this affects their business, "Mezzanine financing" is generally "hybrid of debt and equity financing that is typically used to finance the expansion of existing companies.1" To get detailed picture of how it works, take a look at this video.
In short, the fund is ideal for SMEs looking to scale up or expand overseas. It is also suitable for businesses facing challenges in obtaining loans from traditional financial sources, but desire more flexible financing options.
Eligibility: This fund caters to smaller SMEs with annual revenues of $50 million and below at the time of investment. The companies must have their key management and headquarter functions in Singapore.
Business Grants Portal
"Despite the numerous grants and initiatives, many businesses are still not aware of all the opportunities available."
To address this issue, the Business Grants Portal is set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2016. Through this portal, SMEs can get a complete view of all assistance that is at their disposal in one central location. For now, SMEs can browse through SPRING's SME Portal for a better idea of the varied opportunities on hand.