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Swedish MNCs team up with Singapore SMEs in partnership programme

SWEDISH multinational companies (MNCs) based in Singapore are teaming up with local small and medium-sized enterprises under an innovation partnership programme called SESG.

The initiative was started by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (SwedCham) and creative collective Forsman & Bodenfors.

The programme includes an advertising campaign sponsored by the MNCs to promote the local SMEs, and regular partner meetings dubbed Fika4Good, a reference to the Swedish tradition of fika or coffee chats.

Each partner duo discusses issues and how to solve them, covering areas such as business strategy and joint corporate social responsibility projects to customer support and communication tactics.

The one dozen participating SMEs, ranging from hawkers to tailors, were selected in cooperation with Enterprise Singapore and the National Environment Agency.

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Said SwedCham general manager Lisa Ferraton: "Joining hands with smaller, Singaporean entrepreneurs offers a unique opportunity (for both sides) to get to know the other's challenges better and provide mutual help when it's needed the most. We are only at the beginning of this initiative, and as we move forward, I encourage more companies to participate."

The Swedish companies involved in the program are Anticimex, Astrazeneca, Atlas Copco, Axis, Camfil, Electrolux, Ericsson, Hexagon, H&M, Saab, Stena and Trelleborg.

Ericsson, for instance, has partnered Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice at Shunfu Food Market. Sonia Aplin, Ericsson's vice-president for marketing and communications, sustainability and corporate responsibility for South-East Asia, Oceania and India, said: "At Ericsson, we believe digital inclusion empowers people, so we are looking to set up a company volunteer programme to help hawkers at Shunfu market develop an online presence on social media platforms and expand their business opportunities."

Said Enterprise Singapore executive director of lifestyle and consumer Kee Ai Nah: "Despite differences in organisational structure and business scale, micro SMEs and corporates may have complementary values that could be mutually beneficial.

"Most micro SMEs are nimble and could commit to partnerships with Swedish corporates, and facilitate knowledge exchange and capability building, such as in digitalisation."

Apart from the advertising campaign and Fika4Good, SwedCham is also working with some member companies to support company attachments under Workforce Singapore's SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme. (see amendment note)

Amendment note: An earlier version of this article mentioned "Workforce Singapore's mid-career programme". Workforce Singapore has clarified that this refers specifically to company attachments under Workforce Singapore's SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme.

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