How to get a micro loan for your small business in Singapore
If you have built your business from scratch, chances are you have grinded through a period with relatively tight budget, especially in the beginning one or two years. Very often, it may not be millions that you require, but up to US $50,000 to get your business off the ground. A recent survey by a local bank in Singapore targeting hundreds of Singapore start-ups showed that 50% of them requires some sort of funding to kick-start their business. However, only a small 10% have the credentials or opportunity to receive any funding from banks.
As we have discussed in our other blog posts, the Singapore government has been very generous in supporting small businesses, with grants and funding schemes of all sorts catering to different sectors or industries. In this piece, we introduce the Singapore “Micro Loan Programme” which is a great scheme to get your business rolling.
What is the Singapore Micro loan Programme (MLP)?
The Micro Loan Programme (MLP) is a funding scheme spearheaded by the Singapore Government, in co-ordination with local banks aiming to support local business start-ups with funding for business operations and expansion. Loan quantum varies, which depends on the ultimate assessment by the financer but MLP typically lends up to SGD $100,000 max. This scheme will be ideal to SMEs that may be rejected by typical business term loans offered by banks.
The MLP funds are made available to business owners via participating financers. The key advantage to this financing is that there is no limit as to the use of funds granted. You may use it from daily operations, to automation of services, to upgrading of business equipment. Secondly, the MLP is collateral-free even for start-ups. With a minimum interest rate as low as 5.50% p.a, businesses could enjoy a more economical way of financing than traditional means via business term loans with interests of 10% plus. The loan tenure is negotiable, and could be up to a maximum of 4 years.
As the scheme is designed to support start-ups, the MLP is only eligible to businesses that are in operations for 3 years or less. The government has also increased its risk-sharing portion (with financiers) for the Programme to allow more participating young companies. The basic criteria one has to meet to qualify for the MLP include:
- The company is registered and operates in Singapore
- The company has less than 10 staff, with annual revenues of less than S $1 million
- The company has at least 30% local shareholding
- Total group business annual revenue of less than S$ 100 million, with group employment size of less than 200, for corporate shareholders holding more than 50% of the applicant company
Banks and financial institutions have been actively participating in the MLP to support local young SMEs. It’s been a success since its launch in 2014. At the moment, OCBC is the leading financer with more than 50% share, but international banks have also been active in the scheme – Such as DBS, HSBC, RHB, UOB, Standard Chartered bank, Bank of East Asia, and Malayan Banking Berhad.
Before applying, you may wish to consult with an MLP PFI (Participating Financial Institutions) to access your suitable loan tenure, size and indicative rates. One way to gain access to the right contact at the PFI would be via local partners or consultants such as Piloto Asia, whom would set you up for a meeting with the Bank. Your consultant could also facilitate the process by providing documents commonly required by financers:
1. Your business profile copy
2. Your personal income tax summary (Owners and Directors)
3. Your business’s certified financial statements
4. Your business account statements
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Applying for the MLP is similar to a business term loan application. Your local consultant or official from Participating Financial Institution shall be able to offer some advice. The following is a general guide to MLP applications:
1. Download the Micro Loan Programme application form here. Complete the form with all required documents attached for submission.
(For applications via both OCBC or DBS, documents required include a photocopy of your Singapore IC / Passport, completed consent form, latest income tax notice of assessment from IRAS, and recent month’s bank account statement copy if account not held in the respective banks. DBS needs additional financial statement for the last 2 years for its applicants. The statements need to be for less than 18 months period and audited if need be. Other documents may be requested per individual PFI as required.
2. Individual PFI will assess your application, while individual credit assessment is conducted concurrently.
3. Application processing typically takes from 4 days-3 weeks, depending on your loan size and the PFI used in loan application.