SINGAPORE (July 10): Twenty-five Singaporean small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) from various sectors have been selected as the pioneer cohort of Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) "Scale-up SG" programme, which is aimed at accelerating the growth of these SMEs over the next two and a half years.

Among the companies chosen include names familiar to the Singaporean consumer such as 4Fingers, Jumbo Group, Commonwealth Capital (which owns restaurant chains Pastamania and The Soup Spoon), SK Jewellery Group, Bee Cheng Hiang, Koufu, and Putien.

At the launch on Wednesday, Peter Ong, Chairman of ESG, said the companies were chosen based on their positive growth trajectory, potential, leadership, ambition, and drive to succeed. The companies, he said, are from diverse sectors, not just retail, but also manufacturing, education, robotics, healthcare and urban solutions. This was a deliberate choice, he added, to allow for a "cross-pollination" of ideas and knowledge between sectors.

“”[The companies] come from very diverse sectors, each with different models and strategies. Some are corporate-run businesses and some are family-tun. Each faces different growth challenges but have one thing in common, the strong fire of ambition to scale their companies to greater heights,” he said. “[Hence,] a key feature is peer learning, support and inspiration from being a part of the [Scale-up SG] community.”

The programme is conducted in collaboration with ESG’s anchor partners, consultancy firm McKinsey and audit firm PwC Singapore, in addition to other government and private partners, private equity funders, higher-learning institutions, and research institutes. The companies will be given guidance on how to achieve their growth goals as well as be connected to partners who will help them scale their business, strategise their growth, and expand their global footprint.

Over the next 30 months, these companies will need to commit at least 40 CEO days towards the programme, in addition to 30% of the programme fee (which ESG declined to reveal). The remaining 70% will be funded by the government. Going forward, the programme will still be run on an by-invite basis, although companies who wish to participate may contact ESG and express their interest for the upcoming cohorts.

At the launch, Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, urged all the companies to take advantage of this programme to spur their success and to play a role in helping Singapore and Singaporeans amid times of rising inequality.

“In your journey towards success, help us to take care of Singapore, and fellow Singaporeans, help us to grow the value-add, given the resources that we have in Singapore, help us to create more and better jobs for fellow Singaporeans,” he said. “This is a simple but important task, because in many countries today, while many companies grow and make money, not everyone in society gets moved along. Because of that, many countries fragment and break apart.”

Chan also said Singapore distinguishes itself not only economically, but also in doing its best in keeping societies stable and cohesive, where a company’s success translates to success for their workers.

After the launch event, Jumbo Group CEO Ang Kiam Meng told reporters that as an SME trying to be a multinational company (MNC), the programme is timely in achieving their goal to globalise their seafood restaurant chain. “We believe globalisation is key and while Singapore remains our base for research and development, we want to expand our restaurants globally.”

Another company, Ednovation, a provider of preschool education with more than 70 preschools in Singapore, China, Philippines and Indonesia, aims to double their revenue and growth over the course of the programme. It’s managing director, Dr Richard Yen, said the programme would contribute greatly towards their goal of having their proprietary curriculum in preschool education be well-known globally, similar to how the Montessori method is regarded.