SINGAPORE: In response to an appeal for senior professionals to unite and provide guidance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a group of seasoned industry veterans have come forward, revealing that their attempt to volunteer as mentors was thwarted, despite their best efforts.

In a forum letter published by the national broadsheet and signed by six others, Jeanette Koh Siew Fah revealed that their initiative to offer expertise to struggling SMEs faced unexpected obstacles, hindering their altruistic intentions.

Around two years ago, witnessing the closure of numerous small and micro businesses during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group was motivated to extend support to these enterprises that had fallen through the cracks.

Inspired by the American model of Score (Service Corps of Retired Executives), they aimed to establish a local version to provide voluntary consulting services in areas such as auditing, human resources, accounting, banking, and business development.

However, their aspirations hit a roadblock when they approached the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) with their proposal and credentials. The ASME insisted that they needed to become certified consultants.

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To achieve this, the veterans were directed to the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC), where they were informed that, despite their wealth of practical industry experience, they were required to undergo a two-day course costing several thousand dollars per person and accumulate 1,000 hours of consulting work.

A stunning irony surfaced when they discovered that fresh graduates aspiring to become management consultants were required to complete only a four-day course and log the same 1,000 hours of consulting work, despite lacking the extensive real-world business experience possessed by the veteran group.

Despite numerous dialogues, including a Zoom meeting, between the veterans and ASME, the association ultimately rejected their proposal, demanding that they meet all criteria, including incorporating a company first. The overwhelming challenges and hurdles have left the group disheartened and their collective spirit dampened.

Calling on the Government to bridge this gap, given the generosity of veterans willing to offer their time and guidance, Ms Koh and her group asked:

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“In the light of the ageing population, isn’t it time the Government looked into having a shared service organisation to help small and micro companies, as well as seniors who are still able to contribute to society in a meaningful way?”

Read their letter in full HERE.