According to the Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS), there are 351 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore who have not only struggled financially to stay afloat but have actually had to borrow sizable sums of money.
Because of this, CCS launched the Enterprise Credit Counselling Programme (ECCP) on October 25, 2017, in order to aid entrepreneurs in debt.
Currently heading CCS is Kuo How Nam, who says that ECCP’s aims to address an issue amidst the country’s push for entrepreneurship.
He said, ”The system is geared towards finding winners. Every committee focusing on SMEs talks about how to get them to grow and expand. But where are the programmes to help those that fail?”
In 2016, there were 43,000 startups. This number has doubled in the last 15 years. However, the Department of Statistics shows that 50 percent of new businesses fail within three years from when they start.
The goal of the ECCP is to aid entrepreneurs who are faced with personal and business debts with helping facilitate repayments to their creditors.
At the beginning of the program, ECCP will focus on businesses with assets of up to one million dollars and debts of half a million, whose founders are closing the business or have closed already.
“We are not out to save enterprises that are in trouble as we don’t have the resources or expertise to broker a deal with the various stakeholders involved in a rescue mission. But we can try to minimise the impact of a business failure by helping the owners avoid bankruptcy if their creditors can agree on a structured repayment proposed by CCS.”
The director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department at Temasek Polytechnic, Samuel Ang, believes that the ECCP gives failed startups a second chance. Key to achieving this is connecting with mentors who have proven success with successful enterprises along the same lines.
For Mr. Ang, support is vital to ensure success. As the head of the Temasek Launchpad, he says, “The Temasek Launchpad, for example, is dedicated to spending time with our start-ups to understand their plans, needs, and other resource requirements so we can follow up to facilitate the meeting of these needs.
Like nurturing any newborn, the secret to a successful start-up is to be ‘invested’ in it, be it time or energy.”