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SBF unveils repositioned role and focus at official opening

5 September 2017 [Singapore] - SBF and SBF Foundation today held the official opening of its new offices at SBF Center, a milestone event marking a double celebration – its relocation to new premises as well as its 15th anniversary.

Officiating at the opening were (from left) former SBF Chairman Mr Stephen Lee, Minister S Iswaran, SBF Chairman Mr SS Teo, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, SBF Foundation Chairman Mrs Theresa Foo, and former SBF Chairman Mr Tony Chew 

The momentous occasion was graced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress Mr Chan Chun Sing, Senior Ministers of State for Trade and Industry Ms Sim Ann and Dr Koh Poh Koon, and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Ms Low Yen Ling.

At a media conference before the official opening, SBF unveiled its repositioning, prompted by the fast changing global environment, coupled with slow global growth, disruption in industries and markets, and the need to assist our businesses transform following the Committee on the Future Economy’s (CFE’s) recommendations.

Repositioning itself as a growth platform, SBF will intensify its efforts to sense, prioritise, analyse and help resolve burning issues facing significant segments of businesses. It also aims to be a stronger, objective and constructive voice in advocating to local and foreign governments, businesses and our workforce to promote the growth and vibrancy of our business community, contributing to the prosperity of Singapore.

Mr Teo speaking at the event

SBF Chairman Mr SS Teo said at the official opening, “We wanted to reposition SBF to play a more active and relevant role. We wanted to deliver more value and services that meet the expectations of our members and the wider business community.” In his speech, Mr Teo also announced that new Issues Committees, to be led by SBF Council Members, will be formed. These Committees will drive deeper insights into business issues and are platforms for collaborations with Government and other stakeholders. These Committees will undertake activities in support of the growth of businesses and the economy.

The first Issues Committee to be established will focus on digitalisation. Headed by Ms Janet Ang, SBF Council Member and Vice President, Industry Solutions, IBM Asia Pacific, the Digitalisation Committee aims to help businesses build strong digital capabilities and promote the adoption of digital technologies. “Business and industries need to transform urgently due to digital and business model disruption. At the same time, digital technology opens many opportunities for businesses to innovate and reinvent themselves and move ahead”, said Ms Ang.

SBF is working closely with TACs, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and other relevant Government agencies on this initiative. It hopes to launch the first programme/project under this initiative in early 2018.

Drawing on the importance of giving back to the business community, Mr Teo said, “We look forward to having more Singapore business leaders from large companies and SMEs come forward to serve on these Issues Committees or SBF’s Council. If more like Janet step up to share their expertise and deep insights, we can work together to give back and shape a better future for our economic prosperity.”

SBF Foundation Chairman Mrs Theresa Foo encourages more businesses to come forward

Echoing this point about coming forward to serve, Mrs Theresa Foo, Chairman of the SBF Foundation, said, “We are committed to continually explore new strategic partnerships to fulfil our mission to encourage, enable and enhance the contributions of the business community to the social, vocational and educational upliftment of all in Singapore. We would like to urge SBF member companies and the business community to come forward and provide opportunities for our beneficiaries.”

SBF Foundation plans to roll out a fellowship programme with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre that will allow companies to begin and enhance their giving journeys. In addition, it is partnering SG Enable to establish “An Inclusive Index for Persons-With-Disabilities (PWDs)”, which is a structured framework that allows for a more holistic measurement of employers’ inclusiveness, in their efforts to hire PWDs. SBF Foundation has also partnered New Hope Community Services to create a job support and retention programme to enhance the long-term employability of the homeless.

Also announced at the official opening event was the formation of the Trade Association and Chamber (TAC) Alliance, comprising 31 Singapore TACs and business groups as founding members and signatories of a TAC Compact. An SBF-led initiative, the TAC Compact aims to unify Singapore-based TACs into an alliance, working together as strategic partners and collaborators to further the interests of members and facilitate the growth of the business community.

TAC Alliance representatives with government leaders 

Highlighting the importance of TACs coming together to collaborate more closely to be a stronger enabler of the business community, Mr Teo said, “We recognise that business issues will become increasingly complex in the future and may stretch our ability to deal with them as an individual TAC. Amid the challenging business landscape, it is time that the business community comes together to help each other in a more collaborative manner, and work with Government to co-create solutions to enhance Singapore’s economic value and prosperity.”

In his address, Guest-of-Honour Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran announced that IE Singapore and SPRING will be merged to form Enterprise Singapore. The new agency will be better-positioned to help Singapore companies grow and seize international opportunities in the next phase of Singapore’s economic development.

Minister Iswaran announced the formation of Enterprise Singapore by merging IE Singapore and SPRING Singapore 

Expressing support for this move, Mr Lawrence Leow, Chairman of the SBF-led SME Committee, said “On behalf of all SMEs, I applaud the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the initiative to merge SPRING and IE Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore, so as to better support companies and ensure more tightly coordinated enterprise development efforts. I am glad that Enterprise Singapore will take an inclusive approach to nurture local companies so that they will continue to be assisted in capability development and in going overseas. I look forward to an eco-system where our companies big and small, help each other to grow anywhere in the world. SMEC will continue to partner and work closely with government agencies to help our enterprises transform and expand overseas”.

Agreeing with Mr Leow, Mr Teo said, “SBF strongly welcomes and supports the merger between IE Singapore and SPRING to form Enterprise Singapore. This is a move in the right direction and sends an important signal that the Government is responsive to businesses’ changing needs. It is also very timely, given the repositioning of SBF as a growth platform for the business community to come together to not only help itself, but also work with our Government to co-create solutions to enhance our country’s economic value and prosperity”.

PM Lee with student performers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design

The official opening event was attended by some 150 guests comprising business leaders, SBF Board of Trustees, Council and corporate members, as well as SBF Foundation’s Board members and founding donors. The repositioned SBF and its new priorities and plans were the culmination of a year-long strategic review of the Federation’s role and focus. The repositioned SBF will come into force on 1 January 2018.

News Release on Repositioned SBF

News Release by SBF Foundation

SBF News Release on Enterprise Singapore

Speech by Minister for Trade & Industry (Industry) S Iswaran

Speech by SBF Chairman Mr SS Teo

Speech by SBF Foundation Chairman Mrs Theresa Foo

SBF's Letter to Members

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