Pump-priming Entrepreneurship in Singapore

I had alluded to the opportunity for the Singapore Government to turn crisis into opportunity and capitalize on the downturn to stimulate the entrepreneurial landscape in Singapore in an earlier post. One such window for our government to act would be during the upcoming Budget announcement scheduled for sometime in Feb 2009, a mere 4 months away.

A peek into an extract from a recent Parliamentary report dated 20 Oct 2008 revealed the possibility of pump-priming as a measure that the government will undertake to boost the economy towards recovery. Although Minister Lim Hng Kiang was non-committal, my intuition tells me we’ll be seeing a 2009 Budget laced with some ’emergency response package’.

A slowdown is beyond doubt. What remains to be seen is how bad the fallout will be. Although Singapore has lived up to its social democracy label many a times with its direct and indirect subsidies in hard times, we can most certainly count on our Government to be prudent with its finances and toe the line in putting out a package that will appear highly impactful, while limiting the absolute dollars actually spent. Just like you would do when you’re new at your job, impression management is key to the success of next year’s Budget. Give the majority of our people and businesses the impression that plenty of help is available (and applicable to them), while channeling the majority of public funds to areas that need them the most and can have direct impact on our national bottom line.
As much as entrepreneurship has a small and indirect role to play in our nation’s economy progress, I do hope our Civil Service recognizes its potential long-term multiplier effect, and carve something out for these brave men and women.

Some wild ideas as food for thought from me to get the ball rollin’:

  • Qualified VCs who fund start-ups anywhere in the world are given an in-principle approval for a grant supporting up to 50% of the base salary of its Singapore engineering/development staff for a period of 2 years
  • Innovation tax ‘credits’ to encourage larger companies to buy products and solutions from start-ups (similar to The Enterprise Challenge, but for private-sector consumption)
  • Form a band-of-CEOs comprising of experienced start-up executives who have experience managing start-ups in downturns, to be placed into promising Singapore-based start-ups to help them weather through the storm
  • Put together a sizeable fund to take positions into promising growth-stage infocomm enterprises to capitalize on M&A opportunities with attractive prices, to be in a better position to grow once the global economy recovers

Any more to add to the wishlist?

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.