In the dynamic world of business, securing the right funding can be a game-changer for your enterprise's growth and stability. The Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) offers a lifeline to businesses in Singapore, and in this article, we aim to help you strategize your funding plans to maximize the benefits of the EFS, specifically the Working Capital Loan (WCL) and Trade Loan. Understanding the nuances of these schemes and their limits is crucial for optimizing government support and building strong relationships with financial institutions.
Before delving into strategies, it's essential to grasp the different Enterprise Financing Schemes available and their respective limits. While there are various EFS options, we will focus on two key schemes: the Working Capital Loan and Trade Loan.
Until March 31, 2024, the maximum limit for Working Capital Loans is S$500,000, while Trade Loans can go up to S$10 million. After this date, the limits will be reduced to S$300,000 for Working Capital Loans and S$5 million for Trade Loans. It's important to note that these limits are aggregate amounts, meaning that the sum of all your WCL limits from various lenders will count towards this limit.
To maximize your funding, consider combining Trade and Working Capital Loans strategically. For short-term financing needs, opt for a Trade Loan, while longer-term investments that may take time to turn a profit can leverage Working Capital Financing. Avoid using a term loan to finance your short-term working capital, as this could be an inefficient use of resources.
Think from the perspective of a bank when applying for EFS funding. Banks prefer to put you on the EFS scheme as it reduces their risk, thanks to the scheme's risk-sharing nature. If you exhaust all your WCL limits under EFS with a single bank, the probability of approval for another bank for additional financing decreases. This is especially critical for first-time relationships where there's no payment track record. Diversify your EFS limits across multiple banks to increase your chances of approval. For example for Working Capital Loan, allocate S$100,000 with DBS, $150,000 with OCBC, $100,000 with UOB, and S$150,000 with SCB.
Once you've established a strong relationship with a bank and maintained a track record of timely repayments for at least six months, you can explore the possibility of a loan top-up. Banks may propose their in-house loans once your WCL limits are exhausted. With a solid track record, they will be more confident in your creditworthiness.
When submitting loan applications, preparation is key. Here are two pro tips:
Maximizing the benefits of the Enterprise Financing Scheme, particularly the Working Capital Loan and Trade Loan, can significantly impact your business's success. These expert tips will help you navigate the complexities of the EFS, strengthen your relationships with banks, and enhance your chances of securing the funding your business needs. If you find these guidelines confusing or need further assistance, don't hesitate to get in touch with our business advisors, who are dedicated to supporting SMEs day-in and day-out.
Benjamin heads up Lendingpot with a background in all things SME. He was previously a commercial banker at Citi with experience in Relationship management, Credit Risk, Trade Operations and Corporate FX sales; and understands the difficulties SMEs face in this opaque world of SME financing.