The Startup SG Founder scheme was launched by Enterprise Singapore (a government agency formed to support the development of Singapore SMEs) in 2017. It aims to nurture Singapore's start-up scene by providing mentorship and grants to first-time entrepreneurs. In 2019, 74 start-ups received mentoring, and grants amounting to S$2.22m were awarded.
The government recently announced an additional S$150m to enhance the scheme. Changes include:
- Introducing a new "Train" path, designed to help individuals keen to start companies but who lack entrepreneurial skills or viable business plans / ideas. These individuals will be eligible for a monthly stipend as they participate in a three month Venture Building programme to guide them through the initial phases of the entrepreneurial process.
- Increasing the pre-seed grant amount for the existing scheme (now termed the "Start" path) from S$30,000 to S$50,000
Individuals applying for the Train path must be Singapore citizens or permanent residents (Singaporeans), while applicant companies under the Start path must have a minimum of three Singaporean employees (including co-founders), with at least two first-time founders amongst the three.
Existing criteria for the Start path remain unchanged. These include minimum Singapore shareholding thresholds of 51%, the requirement to secure co-matching capital of at least S$10,000 and the start-up having been incorporated for less than six months at the date of application.
One of the main reasons for the enhancements is to create more job opportunities for Singaporeans. Indeed, even amidst the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, start-ups have recently offered over 4,600 jobs as part of the government's support measures. With conventional employment opportunities currently squeezed, these enhancements may encourage more Singaporeans to take the road less traveled and explore their entrepreneurial interests.