SME Financing

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In the comprehensive SME financing Singapore guide, you will see practical information on how to ensure an SME loan easily.

You can compare over 20+ banks & financial institutions SME business loan products and view all your eligible funding options immediately!

Use our free loan assessment tool to review your business indicative loan eligibility and see all available financing options instantly.

Singapore’s Preferred Choice For SME Loans.

Our goal is to make credit easily available to SMEs all across Asia. Since our inception, we are trusted by hundreds of businesses that have received timely funding from us for their growth. We will continue to work on empowering more businesses with our tailored financing solutions and impeccable service.

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From the chart showing total loans to businesses extended by banks in Singapore, the data seems to show an uptick in business loans throughout 2018 to the 1st quarter of 2019.

From the chart showing total loans to businesses extended by banks in Singapore, the data seems to show an uptick in business loans throughout 2018 to the 1st quarter of 2019.
Though, Singapore’s economic figures got a beating in the 2nd quarter of 2019 on the backdrop of the US-China trade conflict. As a reliant trade economy, Singapore’s GDP narrowed by 3.4% in the 2nd quarter of 2019 from the previous quarter, the biggest decline since 2012.
If the macroeconomy continues to slow, banks might taper lending to businesses. SMEs will normally experience the credit crunch first, due to perceived higher credit risk profile.

When Should I Apply For SME Financing?

There is an old saying:

“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.”

That saying is correct. The most suitable time to apply for SME financing is when you can prove that you don’t require it. The most critical time to seek funding is when you need it the most.


Numerous SME owners will only start sourcing for financing when they face a cash flow crisis.

Many of these applications will regrettably be rejected. Banks are in this business of managing risk and will not indiscriminately offer SME financing to companies with no clear proof of repayment ability.

Hence, it is always a great practice to plan ahead and start initiating your loan applications when your business is in its best financial shape.

Where can I apply for SME financing here in Singapore?


Banks will most surely be the first port of call for most SMEs when it comes to financing.

Banks have well-structured and organized credit lending functions. They give almost all forms of SME financing tools.

There are numerous banks with SME presence locally:

Aside from the 3 local banks OCBC, DBS, UOB and, many foreign banks active in SME financing in Singapore include:

RHB, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Maybank, and many others.

All banks have different credit criteria.

Interest rates, financing quantum & terms vary across these banks as well. It would be reasonable to compare all bank products as broadly as possible.

Business loans from banks are the most affordable the cheapest financing option. However, securing approval is tough and can be a long strenuous process for numerous SMEs.

Due to the observed higher risk and default rate in SME lending, most banks’ credit assessment is stringent and robust.

Banks do not broadcast their SME loan application approval rates. From a 2015 study led by Visa and Deloitte, it was found that 40% of SMEs do not have any banking assistance.

If your business has sound financials, healthy cash flow, and planned to wait few weeks to a month on the assessment process, business loans from banks would be the best choice.

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Types of SME financing facilities

SME Financing Interest Rate

  • An unsecured business term loan interest rate ranges between 8% to 12% p.a. effective rate.

  • Government financing schemes bear interest of about 7% to 9% p.a. effective rate.

  • A secured loans for equipment and machinery loans interest ranges between 2% to 7% p.a. flat rate.

  • A Revolving facilities such as trade financing and factoring interest is between 6% to 9% p.a. effective rate.

  • Property financing is the most affordable form of financing with interest between 2% to 4% p.a. effective rate.

Interest rates vary between different banks. Usually, interest is determined by the credit profile of the borrower, the loan quantum, and whether the loan is collateralized.

Most Singapore business loan interest rates are determined via a monthly reducing rest basis, and principal loan amortized over loan tenure on monthly rest.

For more detailed guidance on deriving an effective interest rate, do check out our business loan interest rate page.

Criteria to qualify for SME financing

Not all banks will solely base their credit assessment on this credit bureau score, but you should target an overall score between AA – DD and avoid GG – HH scores.

To develop your credit score, ensure prompt payments on all your personal credit facilities. Making a full payment on your credit cards rather than rolling over balances will also improve scoring.

Documents & information required for SME financing application

How to optimize approval of SME financing applications

These are the actions you can take to improve the chances of approval.

What you should do next?

Now you have a clear understanding of the business loan landscape and assessment process, and it would be easier when you next apply for funding.

If you want to compare all bank’s loan products, try our SME financing comparison tool and see your loan options instantly!

The companies that maintain income, assets, or several employees under a certain threshold are the medium-sized and small enterprises (SMEs). The definition of a small and medium-sized enterprise by each country is (SME). The industry in which the company operates has to meet specific size criteria and is sometimes taken into account.

Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) play a significant role in the economy, although they are small. They are significantly larger companies, employ many people, and generally are business-oriented, helping to shape innovation.

Non-subsidiary, independent firms are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with fewer employees than a certain amount. The number varies from country to country. As in the European Union, the most common maximum limit for the nomination of a small business is 250 employees. However, certain countries have set a limit of 200 workers, and the United States believes that small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 workers are included.

In general, small firms employ fewer than 50 people, while micro-enterprises hire a maximum of 10 workers or, in some cases, 5.

SMEs are also used to define financial assets. Financial assets A new definition entered into force in the European Union on 1 January 2005, covering all Community acts and funding programs and State aid, where national and regional support for small and medium-sized enterprises can be increased than for larger enterprises. In this new definition, you should raise the financial ceiling. Small companies (10-49 people) should receive a turnover not greater than S$81 million and micro-companies (less than 10 people employed) less than S$3.3 million. Alternatively, balance sheets for medium, small and micro enterprises should not exceed S$70 million, S$16.5 million, and S$3.3 million, respectively.

Because of the role of the employment sectors, SMEs are essential for economic and social reasons. Because of their dimensions, SMEs are strongly influenced by their CEOs. The CEOs of small and medium-sized enterprises are often the founders, owners, and managers of small businesses. It is difficult to fulfill the CEO’s functions in SME and reflect that of the CEO of a large company: the CEO needs to allocate their time, energy, and assets strategically for the SME’s directors. In general, the CEO is the strategist, champion, and leader for SME development, or the main reason for company failure.

Section 7 of the Micro-, Small- & Medium Enterprise Development Act, 2006 (MSMED Act), which was communicated in September 2006, lays down this definition. The law stipulates that companies should be classified based on their investment dimensions and the nature of their activity. Following the MSMED Act, companies are divided into two categories – manufacturing and service undertakings. A definition of what constitutes a micro-enterprise or a small or mid-size enterprise is given for each of these categories.

In Singapore, what does not fall within the above three categories is a large-scale company.

Petrakis and Kostis (2012) examine the role of trust and knowledge among the employees in small and medium-sized enterprises. The conclusions conclude that expertise positively affects the number of small and medium-sized companies that affect interpersonal confidence. It is essential to note that the experimental results show that interpersonal trust does not affect the number of SMEs. Thus, though knowledge development can strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises, confidence in society is generalized if the number of small and medium-sized enterprises is more significant.

MIT Instructor Bill Aulet points out two significantly different entrepreneurs, the SME Entrepreneur, and the IDE Entrepreneur. For aspiring entrepreneurs, learning the distinction is essential.

Bill says that the two types vary substantially. Small and medium-sized enterprises are small and small. They often concentrate on local markets as a service company and don’t want to go global in particular. Think nail room, dry room, or restaurant. Think of it! They are essential to the economy and the region, but linear growth is at some point disappearing.

Cash flow is here, only not another massive amount of cash flow.

The big difference is that you are looking at global and super-Generalized markets for what Bill calls IDE entrepreneurs. It will take more cash because the dynamics of the IDE business are usually exponential. Here you will probably see negative cash flows. It will need a lot of money initially, but it will take off if it works. There’s a lot more risk, generally speaking. It would help if you managed many stakeholders and the innovation behind them.

The primary difference between IDEs and SMEs is their purpose: IDEs seek to bring innovations to global markets, while SMEs seek to build traditional and well-understood businesses that serve local demand. Both start small and require an entrepreneur with the drive and persistence to make their business a success.

By involving some activities in a business incubator and learning “Managing Innovation” in my university, I think it urges to discuss the difference between SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) and IDEs (Innovation-Driven Enterprises). 

Last week I was at a workshop, and the speaker underlined why essential to know the difference between SMEs and IDEs. I also read from The Kauffman Foundation Report about A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs:

Understanding Differences in the Types of Entrepreneurship in the Economy, the discussion Entrepreneurship becomes essential. 

Why important?

  1. Two types of ventures emerge: ‘small and medium enterprise’ (SME) or an ‘Innovation-driven enterprise’ (IDE). What results is a brief overview of the two types?
  2. The distinct types of entrepreneurship have different economic roles, requiring individually tailored policies to support each.

It can be exciting and terrifying to change from employee to employer. Even if you work in the same occupation, there is a difference between the Entrepreneur and staff: giving up your regular paycheck, paid holidays, and health insurance benefits if you start your own business. There are high risks of entrepreneurship – but the potential benefits are also high.

Transferring from employee to employer requires your readiness to take risks to concentrate on the job and to sacrifice parts of your life. On the other hand, starting your own company can lead to more significant financial benefits and the freedom to structure your work just as you like.

Rising Innovator explains that being a contractor puts you in the boss’ seat. You are setting your timetable, objectives, and success criteria. If your business takes off, financial rewards will likely be more significant than you would see in an employee’s paycheck.

It will be great to establish a schedule if you are not a 9-to-5 person from Monday to Friday. You may organize your business to do most of your work in the night if you work as an owl best. You may get up, work for a while, and return to sleep if you sleep poorly. This is more difficult to do when you march into another drum beat.

The reverse side is that it may not be a financial reward for a while. You may need to run a tight ship for the first or two or three years and cut bone expenses. Sometimes a steady paycheck can be made each week or two weeks compared to starters which often live with the festival or family finances. Also, you have to live on your health insurance cover without paid time off and your employer’s contributions.

Red Gate warns that it is much more stressful to be an entrepreneur than an employee. Whether you’re a solo actor or a team manager, it all depends on you when you’re in charge. Due to the high failure risk, it can put you under stress. Perhaps you prefer to remain an employee if you don’t want that kind of responsibility.

According to Entrepreneur, the approach of entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurs is fundamentally different. Ask yourself on what side of the line you are on if you debate Entrepreneur vs. employee.

  • The staff tries to reinforce their weaknesses. Business people accept their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
  • The staff strives to do their best. Businesspeople do not have to answer anybody else, so they can choose to do under standard work.
  • Employees move towards increasing their skills and taking as much responsibility as possible. Business delegates reject some chances and concentrate only on the parts of the job they can do.
  • Some staff is more competent than they are intimidated by people. Business people can hire them. They can.

The balance of work and life is an essential difference between the contractor and the employee. Many employees strive to balance their commitment to their work with their families and life. To run your own business requires acceptance that you can’t balance it all: compared with work, some parts of your life will suffer. Think carefully before starting your own business if the balance is essential for you.

A further significant difference is a risk. There is a risk to certain employees that they will go unchecked or fear health coverage. Some believe that their obligation to support their families makes it an unacceptable choice for entrepreneurship. Those who become businessmen accept the gamble. Some even flourish in insecurity.

Finally, the choice between contractor vs. employee is no right or wrong. Only for you is what is right or what is wrong.

Enterprises are the driving force behind economic growth and jobs and the start-ups they create. In 2016, 99.7% of all companies in the United States were small companies (private sector companies with less than 500 employees). These same small enterprises create 33.6% of the known export value, employing 48% of employees in the private sector. Small businesses also make 60% of all new jobs.

This has a lot of economic impacts. So what’s happening? They reveal some shocking problems when you dig below the numbers.

Although small companies produce 60% of today’s work, this figure stood at 69.8% in 2001. At the same time, since 1998, when your account for inflation, average median incomes are flat.

We see the number of start-ups slowing down, creating new jobs, and stagnating the medium-sized household income.

We need more than just start-ups that create jobs with low pay. We need companies to market innovations that offer such a high value that customers are prepared to pay a margin premium.

I call entrepreneurship driven by innovation, or it may be called start-ups are driven by innovation.

Such start-ups must not follow Silicon Valley’s model and be technologically focused. Innovations may cover a wide range of areas. I recently found an innovative idea for a new bike approach, which I believe could open up that market to new customers who don’t ride today.

Another instance is an innovative education and preparing STEM students to compete in the emerging creative economy. Take a look at what Zaniac does.

What I am not talking about is an entrepreneur copying or franchising for his local community an existing company. All of them are good and play an economic role. However, these small companies do not usually produce a disruptive product or service, which returns a premium margin.

We discussed several ways to think about discovering ideas and then transforming them into murderous innovation. In the field of entrepreneurship driven by innovation, belief in two parts:

Innovation: Finding a problem, creating a solution, testing it with others, adjusting it, and repeating the process.

Entrepreneurship: Find a client who needs your innovation, serves that client, finds another client, and repeats it up to scale.

It sounds simple but unbelievably tricky. If a client says, he loves and pays for your innovation. You will face deception and setbacks while also feeling excited.

I want to help you take your idea and build a company that turns your vision into something new. I can’t do that 1:1 because of the sheer number of people. So I joined a community in a private Slack area filled with entrepreneurs and innovators. You can find the skills you need while sharing your talents with others.

Because of increased competitiveness in all industries, accelerated business growth, and many businesses‘ globalized nature, the leadership is constantly under pressure to achieve ever-greater growth objectives. Our experience has shown that companies continue to balance the tensions between their current and dominant positions (their core business) and create profitable new growth using new business developments and innovations.

Actual innovative companies can deliver consistent successes through successful businesses and improved processes, which continuously translate market successes, enhancing competitive advantages and sustaining growth. This makes the best “bang for the dollar” possible, maximizing the return of investments on their growing portfolio.

So, what are the best practices successful high-performance firms share? This question can be dealt with in many ways. The initial response has been provided through a study by the ASQ, which showed that innovative organizations had similarities within their strategy and processes in the manufacturing, service, health, and educational sectors.

The following 7 practices apply to organizations, which offer superior productivity and returns.

1. They are customer-focused.

You realize that their decisions and processes are conceived and implemented to identify customer needs and requests and instill their input throughout their development processes. They can offer their customers real value.

2. They execute heavy front-end homework before development begins.

High-performance companies ask questions right and hard before significant investment and work has been committed. By doing the right thing early, you can quickly eliminate less attractive options, and only those with positive business effects are focused.

3. Involve users early and often. 

Their approach to developing solutions includes spiraling development processes with users. This ensures that customer input is taken into account early in critical decisions and adapted throughout the development process.

4. Effective team management for growth. 

These organizations have cross-functional teams which are holistic and practical. They have charters, an appropriate team structure, and effective team dynamics, including communication and decision-making. In addition, the overall strategic direction and the objectives of each team are aligned.

5. Tracking of relevant metrics. 

You track essential metrics, have responsible teams, and produce profit/loss reports for ongoing learning. 

6. Strong growth portfolio management focus.

They understand that companies have very little time, resources, and staff and have efficient frames for decision-making and systems to enable key growth options to be identified, formulated, documented, and prioritized.

7. Custom Stage-Gate process that adapts to their culture and operations.

They typically have lean, scalable, and tailored processes to enhance decision-making and speed-up while maintaining the strictness necessary for results and risks management.

Of course, it is part of a continuous improvement process to become a high-performance, innovative organization. In our practice, we work side by side with top management to understand their current growth and innovation capabilities and to deepen and assess their results in several key areas such as (2) client centricity, (5) culture, leadership, and language, (6) team management practices and (8) organization and structure and (7) management procedures and metrics.

A quick but careful assessment can help you, and your team identify gaps, articulate the possibilities, and develop effective action plans and roadmaps towards an innovative, genuinely high-performance organization.

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About FR Capital

FR Capital is a Singapore consultancy firm that helps SMEs to secure business loans from banks and financial institutions. We concentrate on SME finance, and through our expertise and network, we help clients secure funding with low-interest rates efficiently and hassle-free.