Through 99% SME, small businesses in Singapore can build their online presence. Source: Shutterstock

Singtel, Lazada join forces to get Singapore SMEs online and tech-savvy

TELECOMMUNICATIONS firm Singtel and e-commerce giant Lazada have teamed up in an effort to fulfill the Singapore government’s initiative to get small enterprises up and running online.

The initiative, one of the government’s priorities this year, is included in the Committee for Future Economy report and the 2017 budget announcement, according to a report from Tech in Asia.

SEE ALSO: Singapore pledges to help companies ‘go digital’ in 2017 budget

The two firms launched an online marketplace where small businesses in Singapore can have an online presence and sell their goods to an expanded customer base.

The marketplace is named 99% SME, due to the fact that 99 percent of Singapore’s businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises, which the website calls, the “unsung heroes that keep Singapore going.”

The marketplace’s concept stems from the concern that many owners of older enterprises are not tech-savvy.

They can often be deterred by gadgets, point-of-sale systems or even websites, leaving them unable to keep up with the changing times.

With this new program, businesses are able to sell their wares using Lazada’s infrastructure and advertising as the marketplace will be part of the Lazada website, with ads for their businesses directed to new customers.

The companies will also provide training and resources so the SMEs can optimize the online shopping giant’s reach and customer base.

SEE ALSO: Lazada inks deal with CIMB Bank to provide small loans for SME merchants

The initiative is part of the 99% SME scheme by Singaporean bank DBS, media company Mediacorp, and Singtel as a thank-you token to “the backbone of Singapore’s economy.”

It provides resource packages to participating SMEs that enable them to optimize their cashflow, go cashless, improve productivity, start an online store, and increase revenue and brand awareness.

It also provides banking overdraft options and advertising grants.

Over 2,500 Singaporean businesses have signed up to the scheme and the group have given out $200,000 worth of advertising grants.

In its second year, the scheme has proven highly successful with participating SMEs reporting a 20 percent increase in business in 2016.