Google and Singapore-headquartered United Overseas Bank have come together to expand the capacity of the SME Leadership Academy training programme and revise the online curriculum to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tackle immediate business challenges during this crisis.
The programme supports SME business leaders from the retail, tourism and F&B sectors.
Given the pressing need for SMEs across different industries to be able to transform their businesses digitally, the SME Leadership Academy will expand its capacity to help 4,000 SMEs by end 2021, a ten-fold increase from the initially projected 400 SMEs.
In collaboration with the Economic Development Board and with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Marketing College, Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Retailers Association, the training programme for retail and tourism SMEs will be conducted online through six to eight webinars, each lasting an hour, starting on April 28.
Previous training sessions were conducted through in-person seminars.
The revised and online curriculum now teaches SMEs how to use digital solutions, including online collaboration tools, to be more effective when managing their businesses from home. SMEs will also gain insights into effective people and business management during crises, which can then be turned into practical steps they can take to tackle their own immediate challenges.
UOB will guide SMEs on how to apply for Covid-19 financial relief assistance to help tide them over the difficult period.
The bank, through its innovation accelerator The FinLab, will also connect SMEs with suitable technology solution providers that can help implement digital solutions that will see them through the current situation and ensure they are well-positioned for better times.
On Google’s part, the company has introduced a more streamlined path to learning for SMEs under Grow with Google to promote digital transformation and upskilling on an organisational level. Grow with Google provides free training, tools such as Google My Business and Market Finder, and events to support businesses in their digital upskilling journey.
Ben King, country director of Google Singapore, said: “The considerable disruptions of Covid-19 has made this a tough time for businesses at all levels – doubly so for SMEs who need to accelerate digital adoption and quickly move their business online to adapt to the evolving situation. It is critical that we support them in whatever way we can.”
Lawrence Loh, head of group business banking, UOB, said: “At UOB, we have been helping SMEs overcome their business challenges and deepen their capabilities for more than 80 years. We understand that during these especially challenging times, the priority for SMEs, especially those in the retail, tourism and F&B sectors, is to keep their business afloat.
“Through the customised curriculum and online webinars, we want to make it easier for SMEs to address the business constraints resulting from the pandemic and to be ready for recovery. They can do so by gaining relevant market insights and learning how they can make use of digital solutions to create new revenue streams and to manage their costs more effectively.”