NOBODY knows the challenges of a given industry better than the trade associations and chambers (TACs) representing that sector.
With this in mind, Spring Singapore and trade agency IE Singapore are ensuring that these bodies play a crucial role in helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow stronger.
They run a joint initiative, the Local Enterprise and Association Development (Lead) programme, to partner these industry bodies.
The idea is to help SMEs stay competitive, upgrade and grow, as they navigate a constantly evolving business landscape.
Spring says key challenges SMEs face include product differentiation, increasing productivity, developing manpower and exploring new industry segments.
TACs can help the firms find their edge, according to Spring.
"TACs play a crucial role in promoting best practices and helping companies become more competitive. They are key partners to Singapore companies in the industries they represent, to help raise their productivity, upgrade their capabilities and become globally competitive," said Spring chief executive Tan Kai Hoe.
Since its launch seven years ago, the Lead programme has provided funding so that TACs can drive projects that help members expand their businesses.
So far, 29 TACs have helped about 35 per cent of their members with upgrading and market development projects.
For example, the Singapore Precision Engineering and Tooling Association (Speta) saw an opportunity in the new sector of medical technology in 2009, when its industry sector's revenue dropped by more than half. Speta organised the Medical Manufacturing Asia exhibition to showcase local firms' manufacturing capabilities, helping the industry expand into new growth sectors.