Is there a Singapore Digital Marketing Grant for SME Businesses? (Updated 4 Nov 2020)

With the push for digital transformation, we explore the availability of a Singapore digital marketing grant for SME businesses. There is some misinformation online on what grants cover digital marketing costs, so this article is to clarify what financial support is available to local businesses (accurate of this writing).

COVID-19 has forced businesses all around the world, including Singapore, to evolve and adapt faster than they had anticipated or expected. The Straits Times reported that the pandemic had spurred a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in firms starting digital transformation.

Many businesses who want to transform digitally may not have the resources to invest in the necessary expertise or training to be digitally enabled. A grant or subsidy will help to cover a significant portion of these costs and motivate more businesses to adapt to the new economy.

Do note that the spirit of most grants is to help growing businesses scale their business and is not designed to be a lifeline for a business that is experiencing a downturn or has cashflow issues.

Businesses in need of working capital for business needs can apply for the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP) instead.

WHAT SINGAPORE DIGITAL MARKETING GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE?

The burning question is whether there is any specific Singapore digital marketing grant to cover online marketing costs in Singapore? The short answer is “no”. The exception is a short-term program (E-commerce Booster Package) designed for the retail industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ends on 31 Dec 2020.

However, there are still ways you can tap on available grants for your digital transformation and marketing.

The grants are generally targeted at SMEs that have at least 30% local (Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident) shareholding, and group annual sales turnover not more than S$100 million or group employment size not more than 200 employees.

Here are the grants and support schemes that can be leveraged for digital marketing:

ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT GRANT

The EDG, or sometimes erroneously called the EDG grant, awarded by Enterprise Singapore (previously Spring Singapore) was created to help Singapore companies grow and transform.

The pillar that can apply to all businesses, regardless of industry, looking to transform digitally would be “Core Capabilities”, specifically under Business Strategy Development or Strategic Brand and Marketing Development.

The previous incarnation of this component of EDG was called the Capability Development Grant or CDG. CDG was discontinued on 25 October 2018 and was replaced by the EDG.

Previously, under CDG, to a certain extent, digital marketing costs and web development costs could be claimed under this grant. However, this is not the case now. The EDG clearly states that it does not support the following:

Production of corporate and/ or marketing collaterals, such as brochures, videos, websites, photography, stock pictures, and copywriting

Implementation of marketing or PR campaigns, including retainer fees of consultants, advertising and media buys, engagement of social media influencers, management of websites/ social media platforms, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

However, a Singapore SME business can still leverage the EDG in digital marketing strategy and digital business transformation.

Digital marketing tactics, like the costs highlighted above, need to be guided by strategy. Businesses need to have a clear digital marketing strategy and plan before they invest in what EDG considers as digital marketing on-going costs.

A digital consultant will be able to develop a project with a scope that includes business strategy or identifying how your business can fulfil strategic market needs in the online space.

This will ensure you have a clear plan for digital marketing and only invest in the types of digital marketing that fit your business. The digital consultant should also be able to work with you to allocate digital marketing budgets and create a digital marketing calendar.

Singapore EDG Scope of Funding

EDG funds qualifying project costs, namely third-party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost.

As announced at Supplementary Budget 2020, the maximum support level will be raised to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2021*.

For enterprises that are most severely impacted by COVID-19, the maximum support level may be raised to 90% on a case-by-case basis.

Read our step-by-step guide on “How to Apply for the EDG for a Strategic Brand & Marketing Development ProjectHERE.

*”Enterprise Singapore to enhance grants, loan schemes to support businesses’ COVID-19 recovery“, Channel News Asia (12 Oct 2020)

START DIGITAL PACK

If you are a newly-incorporated SME that has just started your business or is new to digital technology, you can take up a Start Digital Pack. 

Start Digital is an initiative under Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) SMEs Go Digital programme launched in January 2019 to help new SMEs start their business right with foundational and competitively-priced digital solutions.

Start Digital Pack | Evolve & Adapt

The Start Digital Pack has solutions in five categories, one of which is digital marketing. Each eligible SME is entitled to one Start Digital Pack, and the Pack is available through an appointed Start Digital Partners.

Learn how to apply HERE.

SKILLSFUTURE ENTERPRISE CREDIT (SFEC)

One support scheme you can utilize for digital marketing for your business is to train your staff in digital marketing. If you are an SME, you can subsidize up to 90% of digital marketing training courses when upgrading the skills of your employees.

The scheme to tap is the Skillsfuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) which replaced the Productivity Solutions Grant (SkillsFuture Training Subsidy) on 1 March 2020.

Under the workforce transformation, you can subsidize several digital marketing courses supported by SFEC. View the qualifying courses HERE.

SFEC Scope of Funding

In addition, SFEC encourages employers to invest in enterprise transformation and capabilities of their employees. Eligible employers will receive a one-off S$10,000 credit to cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses on qualifying costs for supportable initiatives, over and above the support levels of existing schemes.

SFEC covers:

Enterprise Transformation – Programmes that support enterprise transformation

Workforce Transformation – Job redesign initiatives, and curated training programmes by SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore, such as training courses aligned to the Skills Framework, Professional Conversion Programmes and sector-specific programmes.

This scheme is quite complicated, so learn how SFEC can help your specific business HERE. Or, it might be best to consult one of their officers directly.

E-COMMERCE BOOSTER PACKAGE FOR THE RETAIL SECTOR

To help SMEs in the retail sector that have been badly hit by COVID-10, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has created an e-commerce booster package to aid such companies in setting up online sales channels.

The package primarily helps retailers who have little e-commerce knowledge and capabilities to get started with online channels. ESG has partnered e-commerce platform providers Amazon, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10 and Shopee. They will work with the retailers to curate and list products for up to six months, participate in promotion campaigns, fulfil orders and perform basic sales data analysis.

Each retailer can apply with only one of these platforms, and must not have an existing account with the chosen platform. The SME will receive a one-time 90 per cent subsidy on qualifying costs for fees charged, capped at S$9,000.

This package would be the closest to a dedicated Singapore digital marketing grant. However, it is only available till 31 Dec 2020.

Learn how to apply for the E-Commerce Booster Package HERE.

MULTICHANNEL E-COMMERCE PLATFORM (MEP) PROGRAMME

For Singapore retailers who want to export their products to overseas markets for the first time can tap the Multichannel E-commerce Platform (MEP) Programme.

The MEP Programme, under the Grow Digital initiative by Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), connects SMEs – whether manufacturers, retailers or distributors of products – to MEP solution providers, which will help them to list and sell their products on multiple overseas e-marketplaces.

By leveraging on the expertise and strong in-market network of these partners, SMEs can expand their digital sales channels, access new customers, test in-market demand for their products and optimize sales.

MEP comprises three main components:

End-to-end package by appointed MEP providers to gain rapid entry to new markets via multiple overseas e-marketplaces.

Digital marketing support to help SMEs increase brand value and drive traffic on e-commerce platforms.

Relevant training programmes to operate an e-commerce business (working with Singapore Institute of Retail Studies as a designated training partner).

Eligible SMEs who signed up for the MEP Programme from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 will receive a one-time support at 90% (from 70%) of eligible programme costs for a year.

Like the E-commerce Booster Package above, the MEP would be the closest to a dedicated Singapore digital marketing grant.

Learn how to apply for the MEP HERE.

BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT FUND (BIF)

If your business is in the tourism sector or if you have a project with a clear tourism focus, you can apply for the Business Improvement Fund (BIF) provided by Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

The BIF aims to encourage technology innovation and adoption, redesign of business model and processes in the tourism sector to improve productivity and competitiveness.

This grant is aligned to Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) so supports similar projects but specifically for tourism companies. You can also refer to the section above on EDG to see how digital marketing can be covered under this fund.

For more information and to apply for the BIF, click HERE.

DIGITAL SOLUTIONS DIRECTORY

While this is not a digital marketing grant per say, here is a directory of digital solutions jointly curated by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SGTech to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and businesses address business continuity challenges.

Some of the solutions are free or most are eligible for the Productivity Solution Grant, which provides a 80% cost subsidy.

The specially curated offerings aim to make business continuity essentials more accessible to SMEs and businesses, across several key categories:

    • Remote Working
    • Workforce Management
    • Visitor Management
    • Bill and Pay Online
    • Sell Online
    • Others

For more information on the Digital Solutions Directory, click HERE.

Singapore Digital Marketing Grant | Evolve & Adapt

WHICH SINGAPORE DIGITAL MARKETING GRANT FITS YOU?

All the best in finding a Singapore digital marketing grant that covers some aspects of your online marketing efforts.

The next step to do is consult a management consultant like Evolve & Adapt to discuss how to leverage on an appropriate grant.

We are one of the very few Enterprise Singapore-certified management consultants that is also certified in both traditional marketing management and digital marketing.

We have a very high 90% approval-rate for Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) applications.

You can arrange a no-obligation chat by sending a message through the chat box at the bottom right corner of your screen or fill in the form below.

LET US KNOW HOW WE CAN HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

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J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 11 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing and analytics. He is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse" and has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938 and Money FM 89.3.

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