bbp shares insight on how to embark on a sustainability journey with Lianhe Zaobao

Don’t know where to start with green transformation? The first step for SMEs to embark on a sustainable journey

“Regulations are evolving rapidly, and for businesses, it’s never too early to move towards sustainability. Better late than never.”

Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore Business School, recently shared his views on the importance of businesses moving towards more sustainable development.

SMEs Accelerate Sustainable Development Progress

“More and more consumers and investors are demanding that businesses pay attention to sustainability and integrate it into their operations. There is an accelerating sign of progress in sustainable development among SMEs recently.” – Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore Business School

Despite this, some SMEs do not know how to take the first step.

A national business survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) in early January 2023/2024 showed that 41% of businesses are unclear about what to do or where to start to make their companies more sustainable.

The UOB 2024 Business Outlook survey report also shows that 74% of businesses consider sustainability crucial. However, businesses face many challenges and obstacles when adopting sustainable practices, including increased costs of products and services provided to end customers (29%), a lack of knowledge in identifying and implementing the right measures for the company (28%), and a lack of human resources (26%).

Yoon Young Kim, Cluster President for Singapore and Brunei at Schneider Electric, said that since the company announced the “SME Decarbonization Starter Program” locally at the end of 2022, nearly 60 SMEs have participated in the program.

“The interest in this program from SMEs has been growing, so we are also actively exploring various opportunities to allow more SMEs to benefit, reflecting our relentless efforts to promote sustainable development practices in the business community,” said Yoon Young Kim.

The “SME Decarbonization Starter Program,” supported by Enterprise Singapore, is a three-year mentorship program that helps SMEs start their sustainability journey and master decarbonization capabilities through workshops and training provided by multinational corporations like Schneider Electric. This program is part of the Enterprise Sustainability Programme launched by the government in October 2021.

Various Factors Drive Businesses to Embark on Decarbonization

Professor Lawrence Loh points out that the sustainable development of SMEs is not for their own sake but because they provide products and services to other companies, especially larger companies. Thus, if SMEs serve global markets such as the European Union, they must be suppliers that meet sustainability criteria. After all, these SMEs must disclose their sustainability status, especially their carbon footprint, in their business transactions.

“Businesses participating in the ‘SME Decarbonization Starter Program’ are generally just starting their sustainable development journey. They realize that the green economy is expanding and hope to learn the skills needed in the decarbonization process and take this opportunity to attract large multinational listed companies to cooperate with them,” said Yoon Young Kim.

Yoon Young Kim noted that businesses participating in the “SME Decarbonization Starter Program” are generally just starting their sustainable development journey. They are aware that the green economy is expanding and hope to learn the necessary skills during the decarbonization process, taking this opportunity to attract large multinational listed companies to collaborate with them. These listed companies often have “Scope 3 emissions” considerations, which include all other indirect emissions from a company’s value chain, so they look for more environmentally friendly SMEs as partners.

Rasel Catering’s Creative Director, Chris Low, said the company is committed to maintaining its leadership position in sustainable development in the catering supply field, and this motivation “has always been strong.”

Enterprises’ Active Pursuit of Sustainable Development Gains Recognition from Partners and Customers

Rasel Catering is continuously improving and adapting on its journey towards sustainability. It has voluntarily adopted a multi-faceted approach – significantly reducing food waste, sourcing more sustainable ingredients, and implementing eco-friendly operational practices, such as installing machines and establishing a food waste processing system within the company.

After food scraps are put into the machine, the device’s proprietary active oxygen technology reduces the net weight of the food by up to 80% and turns it into a safe and harmless substrate. This substrate is then transformed into protein-rich feed through microbial protein cultivation for animal and aquaculture farming, eventually returning to the dining table. This action seamlessly integrates food recycling into the food production ecosystem, reducing waste sent to incinerators and landfills, and lowering the demand for new natural resources in food production.

“The company’s commitment and efforts towards sustainable development have won the praise and favor of more and more customers; whether for the company’s business or the environment, it has brought positive impacts,” – said Chris Low.

Similarly, Yoon Young Kim found that SMEs that successfully benefit from the “SME Decarbonization Starter Program” share common traits, including strong adaptability, a commitment to sustainability, and forward-thinking. It is reported that one of the participating companies, Seng Heng Engineering, has begun to see some results on the decarbonization path by making cost-saving modifications to its existing air conditioning and lighting systems that are easy to implement.

Too Many Concerns Make Businesses Hesitate to Move Forward

“Many SMEs worry that adopting energy efficiency programs will increase costs and blur the focus of their existing operations. Finding energy efficiency solutions that suit operational needs and offer the best return on investment (ROI) is also a significant challenge for SMEs,” – said bbp CEO Hoe Boon Chye.

Hoe Boon Chye, CEO of energy efficiency company bbp, mentioned the main issues SMEs face regarding energy efficiency. He says that many SMEs worry that adopting energy efficiency programs will increase costs and blur the focus of their existing operations. Finding energy efficiency solutions that suit operational needs and offer the best ROI is also a significant challenge for SMEs.

As a result, some businesses may spend a lot of time contemplating how to start their sustainable journey or even choose to ignore the issue by focusing on their existing operations.

In such cases, Hoe Boon Chye advises businesses to focus on the immediate benefits instead of drafting a perfect plan in their minds. It’s better to start with easily achievable tasks to stimulate positive momentum and pave the way for more actions.

For businesses at the other end of the spectrum that choose to “conduct business as usual” – solving energy efficiency issues in more traditional ways (replacing old with new, using newer and more energy-efficient equipment) – Hoe Boon Chye suggests considering mature energy efficiency technologies to shorten the ROI period. Alternatively, outsourcing energy efficiency to capable solution providers through performance-based models, such as sharing the cost savings, could align mutual interests.

Implementing Sustainability Is Not About Making Big Moves

Hoe Boon Chye believes that for SMEs with limited funds and resources, signing performance-based energy efficiency contracts with proven solution providers might be the best option and a game-changer.

Performance-based business models eliminate SMEs’ concerns about funding, allowing them to see ROI from day one, focus on their core competencies, and allocate the saved funds to other energy efficiency projects or core business activities.

“I often encourage businesses to start small, not big, when adopting low-carbon operational practices, such as digitalization and supporting the use of more energy-efficient products, to reduce long-term business costs. Businesses often don’t even track their carbon footprint; it’s hard to reduce what you don’t know,” said Seastainable Co. founder Samantha Thian.

Samantha Thian, founder of the social enterprise Seastainable Co., said she often encourages businesses to start small, not big, when adopting low-carbon operational practices, such as digitalization and supporting the use of more energy-efficient products, to reduce long-term business costs. “Businesses often don’t even track their carbon footprint; it’s hard to reduce what you don’t know.”

She advises SMEs to follow the principles of Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, starting with employees and services, tracking their companies’ impact, setting achievable goals, conducting annual reviews for sustainability, and encouraging employees to take responsibility for reducing their environmental impact.

For multinational companies, she recommends including sustainability goals in the leadership team’s performance indicators (KPIs) and offering bonuses for achieving sustainability goals, linked to a portion of the company’s dividends.

The New Budget Increases Support for the Green Economy Transition

To address our country’s challenges in sustainability while supporting businesses in pursuing a greener future, the Singapore government announced increased financing for green initiatives, enhanced support for energy efficiency, and additional measures to accelerate our country’s transformation pace during the announcement of the FY2024 budget. The Ministry of Trade and Industry also made related announcements and explanations during the recent Parliamentary Committee of Supply debates. These measures include:

  • Strengthening the energy-saving subsidy program: The program will cover more industry sectors, not just the initial food service, food manufacturing, and retail sectors. Now, manufacturers, construction, maritime, and data center operators investing in energy-saving equipment can also enjoy up to 70% subsidies.
  • Expanding the Enterprise Financing Scheme: Green Loans will be expanded: From next month (April 1), the scheme will expand its support scope to assist businesses adopting green solutions, not just limited to project developers and solution providers.
  • Large enterprises with annual revenues of SGD 100 million or more can receive up to 30% government subsidies for the costs of producing their first sustainability report, with a cap of SGD 150,000 per enterprise. The government will also collaborate with designated sustainability service providers to help SMEs produce their first sustainability report.

SMEs participating in the program can receive a 70% subsidy from the authorities in the first year and a 50% subsidy in the second and third years. This program is expected to be launched by the end of this year and will last for three years. As carbon emission data disclosure becomes more common, although small businesses are not currently required to produce sustainability reports, doing so can help them remain competitive.

Professor Lawrence Loh believes that our country’s current funding for sustainable development is quite in place. Creating sustainable conditions for companies, especially reducing carbon emissions, will be better, such as studying how to attract businesses to participate in the voluntary carbon market through subsidies or rebates.

Unlike traditional mandatory carbon markets, in the voluntary carbon market, companies’ carbon trading goals are not restricted by environmental policy compliance but are voluntarily chosen to reduce carbon emission intensity. The goals of the voluntary carbon market align with global climate plans.

Professor Loh emphasizes that businesses, especially SMEs, must recognize that sustainable development is in their own interest.

Businesses Depend on Each Other for Sustainable Development

As many companies’ supply chains are more intertwined today than ever before, our country can move forward by leveraging the interdependence of sustainability among enterprises.

Professor Lawrence Loh points out that climate transition and decarbonization are new priorities for businesses. Large companies and SMEs can come together, along with financial institutions, to form learning networks and practice communities.

In terms of sustainability, Singapore businesses must unite, especially in participating in the global market, to engage in sustainable development cooperation.

Sustainability Needs to Be Integrated to Perfect Operations

Yoon Young Kim said that the cooperation between SMEs and multinational corporations is crucial because multinational corporations empower SMEs to increase their value as partners and for the global supply chain while pursuing net-zero goals for their supply chains.

Looking forward, he expects investors to favor business ecosystems that promote such cooperation, providing more opportunities for innovation and growth. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors will increasingly become the core of investment decisions.

He emphasized that the “SME Decarbonization Starter Program” highlights the partnership between SMEs and multinational corporations, key to accelerating the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

[This article is presented by the National Climate Change Secretariat]









大华银行2024年商业展望调查报告也显示, 有74%的企业认为可持续发展至关重要。不过,企业在采取可持续做法时面对诸多挑战和障碍,包括向最终顾客提供的产品与服务的成本增加(29%)、为公司找出和执行正确举措方面的知识不足(28%),以及缺乏人力资源(26%)。

法国公司施耐德电气(Schneider Electric)新加坡与文莱区域总裁金允荣(56岁)表示,自公司2022年底宣布在本地推出“中小企业脱碳启动计划”以来,参与计划的中小企业近60家。


“中小企业脱碳启动计划”获新加坡国际企业发展局支持,是个为期三年的导师计划,通过像施耐德电气的跨国集团,以工作坊等培训方式协助中小企业启动可持续发展之旅及掌握脱碳能力。该计划是政府于2021年10月推出的企业可持续发展计划(Enterprise Sustainability Programme)的一部分。



“参与‘中小企业脱碳启动计划’的商家一般才刚刚开展自身的可持续发展旅程。它们意识到绿色经济正在扩大,希望在脱碳进程中也让雇员学习所需技能,并借此机会吸引大型跨国上市公司与它们合作。” ——施耐德电气新加坡与文莱区域总裁金允荣


中小企业Rasel Catering创意总监罗佩蓉(51岁)说,公司致力于在餐会供应领域保持可持续发展运动领导者的地位,而这股动力“一直都很强”。

企业在可持续发展的积极进取 获伙伴和客户肯定

Rasel Catering在可持续发展之旅,不断地进行改良和适应。它自发地采取多管齐下的运作——显著减少食物浪费、采购更可持续的食材及在营运中推行环保作业方式,如在公司内装置机器,设立食品废物处理系统。


“公司在可持续发展所作的承诺和努力,得到越来越多客户的称许和青睐;无论对公司业务还是环境,都带来正面的影响。”——Rasel Catering创意总监罗佩蓉


同样地,金允荣发现,能成功从“中小企业脱碳启动计划”中获益的中小企业,共同点包括适应能力强、对可持续发展信守承诺及具有前瞻性的思维。据悉,其中一家参与计划的企业成兴机械(Seng Heng Engineering)在脱碳之路已开始取得一些成果,通过对现有空调和照明系统进行易于实施的改造,节省了成本。











社会企业海洋可持续公司(Seastainable Co.)创办人田思惠(29岁)说,她经常鼓励商家在采纳低碳作业方式时,从小处而非大处做起,如数码化、支持改用更具能效的产品等来降低长远的商业成本。“商家往往连它们的碳足迹都没有追踪,对于不知道的事,就难以减下来。”





  • 加强节能津贴计划:该计划将涵盖更多行业领域,除了最初的食品服务、食品制造和零售领域,如今制造、建筑、海事和数据中心业者投资于节能器材配备时也能享有高达70%的补助。
  • 扩大企业融资计划—绿色贷款将扩大:从下个月(4月1日)起,该计划将扩大支持范围,扶持采纳绿色方案的商家,而不再仅限于项目开发商和方案供应商。
  • 年营1亿元及以上的大型企业制定第一份可持续发展报告时,费用可获政府最高30%补助,每家企业顶限为15万元。















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