65% of Singapore’s economy is made up of small and medium enterprises or SMEs. That said, growing your business is challenging enough because of the stiff competition. On top of that, the high rental costs, as well as operational costs, can take a toll on a business’s finances. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of SME’s income stream has dried up.
This is where a business loan can come in handy. With a business loan, SMEs can maintain their inventory and ensure they have the right equipment to continue operating. Additionally, it also helps iron out cash-flow issues as well as accelerate business growth.
Thankfully, there are government-assisted small and medium enterprise loans that are offered at a low interest rate. Plus, banks also offer different financial products that can help alleviate cash problems. On top of that, there are also other alternative financing options, such as moneylenders.
Administered by Enterprise Singapore, government-assisted financing schemes give SMEs access to cheaper financing. Thanks to the Singapore government taking on the risk sharing element, participating financial institutions can offer lower interest rates on SME loans. Why? Because the risk of default is now co-shared.
That said, interest rates on these types of SME loans are lower as compared to standard commercial loans. Here are two of the most popular government-assisted schemes:
|Name of Loan||Maximum Loan||Loan Tenure||Interest and fees||Government Risk Share|
|SME Working Capital||S$300,000||Up to 5 years||Per bank or FI assessment||50-70%|
|Temporary Bridging Loan||S$3 million||Up to 5 years||Up to 5% per annum||90%|
The SME Working Capital Loan (WCL) provides SMEs with working capital up to $300,000 with a maximum loan tenure of up to 5 years. Best of all, the SMEs can repay the loan at any period with no penalty and a pro-rated interest. The government risk share is between 50% and 70%.
- The business must be registered and operating in Singapore.
- Minimum 30% Singaporean or PR shareholding
- Maximum annual revenue of S$100 million or 200 employees.
- Maximum group revenue of S$100 million or 200 employees.
The Temporary Bridging Loan (TBL) helps SMEs bridge the gap to alleviate their cash flow needs. It provides SMEs access to working capital up to S$3 million. The interest rate is capped at 5% p.a. with a maximum repayment period of up to 5 years.
Borrowers can apply for a one-year deferral of principal repayment. However, it is subject to the financial institution’s evaluation for approval.
- The business must be registered and operating in Singapore.
- Minimum 30% Singaporean or PR shareholding
|Name of Loan||Maximum Loan||Loan Tenure||Interest and fees||Eligibility|
|DBS Business Loan||S$500,000||Up to 5 years||Per bank assessment||
|OCBC Business First Loan||S$100,000||Up to 4 years||Per bank assessment||
|UOB SME Working Capital Loan||S$300,000||Up to 5 years||Per bank assessment||
|Maybank Business Term Loan||S$500,000||Up to 5 years||Per bank assessment||
|Standard Chartered Business Instalment Loan||S$300,000||Up to 3 years||Per bank assessment||
DBS is one of the best banks in Singapore, offering competitive rates for small and medium enterprises. With their commercial business loan, SMEs can borrow up to S$500,000. The repayment period is up to 5 years.
This loan is not government-backed. That said, all Singapore-registered businesses can apply. However, this business loan may not be suitable for all businesses.
For example, startups and other SMEs may be better off looking to other lenders with less strict borrowing requirements for business financing.
Compared to the DBS Business loan, OCBC Business First Loan only offers SMEs up to S$100,000 business financing. But it boasts a flexible repayment period of 1 to 4 years and since it is an unsecured business term loan, no collateral is required. SMEs will need at least one Guarantor.
OCBC startup business loan is perfect for start-ups with up to 10 employees. Additionally, it is also great for companies operating for at least 6-24 months.
The UOB SME Working Loan provides SMEs up to S$300,000 financing. The repayment period is similar to the previous banks at 5 years.
To qualify, the business must be registered and operating in Singapore for a minimum of 3 years. Additionally, the company’s yearly sales must be at least S$100 million. That said, it is a good option for an established company with fairly consistent sales.
If you need a large amount, Maybank Business Term Loan offers up to S$500,000 financing for SMEs. Plus, the loan repayment period is up to 5 years. However, you’ll need to have a minimum turnover of S$300,000 per annum to qualify.
If you need a considerable amount of money to continue operations, Standard Chartered Business Installment Loan is a good option. They offer up to S$300,000 with a loan term of up to 3 years. Just like any other bank, the interest rate is subject to the bank’s assessment. However, it is capped at 11%.
To qualify, you’ll need a minimum turnover of S$750,000 per annum and must be operating for 3 years. This means it is a good option for companies with a stable source of income and annual sales.
You can always turn to licensed moneylenders in Singapore. With a licensed moneylender, the eligibility requirements and application process are less stringent. This means you can get quick emergency cash to continue your business operations.
The loan amount may differ upon assessment. However, most licensed lenders can offer up to S$200,000 financing. This is a competitive amount compared to other commercial business loans.
All moneylenders can only charge up to 4% interest rate per month for all personal unsecured loans. But this doesn’t apply to an unsecured business term loan. That said, a business loan interest rate can range from 5% to 15%.
Please refer to the table below:
|Maximum Loan Amount||Interest Rates||Eligibility|
|Up to S$200,000||Depends on the loan amount, tenure, and other terms
Range from 5% to 15%
If you want to enjoy cheaper financing, then look into government-assisted schemes first. For one, the interest rates are significantly lower compared to standard commercial loans. For instance, if you apply for a TBL, the interest rate is capped at 5% per year.
Additionally, you have the option to defer the principal repayment for the first year of the loan.
If you want more options with larger loan amounts, then consider looking into standard SME business loans offered by banks. Additionally, start-ups who don’t have much credit history can turn to this option as well.
For instance, OCBC’s startup business loan only requires the SME to be operational for 6-24 months to qualify with a minimum annual turnover of less than S$1 million. Start-ups can get financing up to S$100,000.
If you don’t qualify for any of the options above, turn to licensed moneylenders. Licensed lenders can also provide quick cash disbursement which is helpful for SMEs who need emergency funds.
However, choose your licensed moneylenders wisely. Verify their credibility first by checking the Ministry of Law Singapore website. Make sure that they are on the list of licensed moneylenders.
Interest rates differ in every bank and financial institution. Plus, these lenders also take into account other factors which might influence the interest rate charged. However, in Singapore, the average business loan interest rate ranges between 3.5% and 7% p.a.
If you’re applying for a government-backed business loan or a standard business loan, you’ll need the right documents before submitting your application. Here are some of the most common documents that are required for a business loan application:
- Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) business profile information.
- Last 2 years’ Notice of Assessment (NOA) of all Directors
- Latest Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) report of all Directors
- Last 2 Years’ Company’s Financial Statements
- Latest 6 Months Of Bank Statements
If you’re applying for a business loan from a licensed moneylender, here are the common documents required:
- All directors and partners NRIC
- Recent information report (Business Profile) from the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory
- Recent Income tax assessment notice (both personal & from the company)
- Recent financial statement
- Recent invoices or business contracts
- Recent utility bills under the company name
- Recent 6-month bank statements
- List of assets owned by the company, directors & partners (if any)
- Office/shop tenancy agreement (if any)
Banks are typically stringent in evaluating a business loan application. For this reason, it takes approximately 2-3 weeks to process the small business loans application. If for some reason the SME has a complex case, it may take longer.
That said, if you need emergency cash, you may consider taking a loan from licensed moneylenders. They have a less meticulous loan application process and can disburse cash within the same day.
There are various business financing schemes in Singapore. In fact, the government-assisted SME loan is offered by more than 20+ banks. It can be overwhelming to find the best business loan.
So take your time in comparing the business loan terms and conditions. This includes comparing the loan amount, interest rate, repayment period, and eligibility criteria. Choose a loan that can provide you with enough financing to cover the costs you need at an interest rate you can afford.
For instance, Temporary bridging loans allow SMEs to borrow up to S$3 million with an interest rate capped at 5%. However, keep in mind to borrow only what you need to avoid financial strains later on.
Did you know that business loan applications in Singapore are subjected to the director’s personal credit score assessment?
This means you’ll need to have a decent credit rating. If you have a bad credit score, there’s a high chance your loan application will be rejected.
Thankfully, those with a low or bad credit score can turn to licensed moneylenders. These credible lenders are less strict when it comes to the borrower’s credit history. So you’ll have a higher chance of getting approved.
Thanks to Enterprise Singapore’s initiative, SMEs have access to cheaper business loans. However, financial products, interest rates, and eligibility requirements differ across banks and financial institutions. That said, it’s best to compare your loan options first before making a decision.
- With the government-assisted bank loans, the government is taking on the risk sharing element. This means financial institutions can offer lower interest rates on SME loans.
- SME Working Capital Loan (WCL) provides SMEs with working capital up to S$300,000 while Temporary Bridging Loan offers up to S$3 million financing.
- The average business loan interest rate ranges from 3.5% to 7% p.a.
SMEs, who don’t qualify for government-assisted SME business loans and standard business loans, can look towards licensed moneylenders for financing.