Speech by President Halimah Yacob at DewiFiesta

Mr Shamir Rahim, President of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI)

Mdm Fadilah Majid, Chairman of DEWI@SMCCI

Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to join you today at DewiFiesta. DewiFiesta is a celebration of women and their extraordinary journeys.

Today’s women are better educated and better informed than thegenerations before us. We are active contributors to our communities, the corporate world and society at large. I am happy to see at least 30 women entrepreneurs with us today, exhibiting many of their products. I hope to see that grow, both in terms of numbers and size, with the support of the SMCCI committee. I am also happy to see more women being involved in the business world. With us here today are many women entrepreneurs and role models who have persevered through their own struggles in their journey to success. It is not easy for women, especially when they have to care for their children and elderly parents.

Over the years, Singapore has developed a much more dynamic business environment.  There are now many levers of support for women who are thinking of starting their own businesses. For those who might be thinking of embarking on their entrepreneurship journey but do not know where to start, I strongly encourage you to reach out to any of the 12 SME Centres located island wide. The consultants at the SME Centres will be able to provide customised business advice and help solve common business challenges, such as digital technology adoption.

The Government has also launched and enhanced a number of different schemes in recent years, such as SPRING’s Capability Development Grant and the Productivity Solutions Grant to support businesses in their growth and adopt suitable productivity solutions. We have many grants and schemes available, and DEWI can help our women in accessing them.

One example of a Malay Muslim company that has benefited from such schemes is AsyuraPaste, a Singapore-based spice manufacturing company helmed by a woman entrepreneur, Ms Nurhuda Rabbani. Through the business advisors at the SME Centre at SMCCI, she secured grants to purchase industrial machines to expand paste production by preparing and packing even more stock. It is indeed encouraging to see that more women entrepreneurs, such as Nurhuda, are beginning to not just start up but also scale up.

Today’s business world is fortunate to have the support of technological advancements. Indeed, the use of technology can be an opportunity for small businesses. Take for example microenterprises which are started by women.  With technology and the sharing economy, it is possible for those women who have left the workforce for various reasons, to continue contributing to our economy. If done well, this not only helps the individuals and their families in earning a living, but also boosts our economy. In this regard, I strongly urge all our women entrepreneurs to explore schemes such as SME Go Digital which will be able to help you manage your resources better.

Women play many roles in modern society. We may be mothers, caregivers or business owners. Some even juggle all these roles at the same time! 

It is not easy being a woman and having to take on multiple roles. I therefore thank DEWI@SMCCI for cultivating the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst women and empowering them towards taking on bigger roles in society.

In closing, let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day.  I hope you will have a fruitful talkshow ahead.

Thank you.