OCBC Virtual SME Campus born out of Singapore extended circuit breaker set to strengthen digital capabilities of more than 3,000 SMEs
- To date, over 5,000 employees from more than 2,500 SMEs have attended OCBC Virtual SME Campus since its launch in April 2020
For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the sense of urgency to digitalise has heightened due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, Singapore’s extended circuit breaker which began in April this year, highlighted the necessity of digitalisation. It was during this period that OCBC Bank began working with partners including Enterprise Singapore, Amazon, Google and Shopee, to create a series of webinars to equip SMEs with the digital know-how needed to transform and thrive in the new normal.
This series of webinars, known as OCBC Virtual SME Campus, began in April 2020 and so far, more than 30 webinars of about 2 hours each have been conducted.
Over 5,000 employees from more than 2,500 SMEs have benefited from OCBC Virtual SME Campus, and by the end of 2020, about 6,500 employees from more than 3,000 SMEs are expected to benefit.
The webinars addressed immediate concerns that SMEs had during the extended circuit breaker, including how to leverage e-commerce and digital marketing. Webinars tailored specifically for hard-hit industries like F&B were also organised to equip them with the digital skills needed to start selling online quickly.
OCBC Virtual SME Campus complements the other digital initiatives rolled out by OCBC Bank, including the Start Digital Pack, which the bank offers in collaboration with Info-communications Media Development Authority and Enterprise Singapore. The Start Digital Pack enables SMEs to implement human resource, accounting, digital marketing, digital transactions and cyber security solutions for free for a period of at least 6 months.
During the Circuit Breaker, the bank also rolled out a targeted digital support suite to its F&B SME customers at preferential rates. This suite includes online ordering and island-wide food delivery platform Butleric and digital marketing support from Firstcom Solutions.
Though the focus on the webinars has been on digitalisation, special webinars on pertinent topics like working capital financing support schemes, and the impact of the Covid-19 Temporary Measures Act, have been conducted. Other sessions have aimed to prepare SMEs for future opportunities, with topics covering the outlook on the ASEAN economies and China, as well as how to strengthen business resilience for the post Covid-19 new normal.
First-time entrepreneur Ms Lim Geok Keng, founder of artisanal Kombucha brand Châteaux, was amongst those who attended the webinars. She incorporated the company in May 2019 and began looking for a shop front to sell her fermented tea drinks at the beginning of this year – then COVID-19 hit. She pivoted her business to an e-commerce business model and began operations in August.
“This is my first business venture and it is a tough operating environment that I’m starting my business in, so any advice that I can get is much appreciated. The OCBC webinar I attended really opened up my horizons. I obtained useful information on grants and services for SMEs, and a better appreciation of the complexity of digital marketing and running a website. There were some takeaways that I implemented immediately. Having a digital marketing calendar, for instance, was something that I had not thought of before. It made me think ahead about upcoming occasions and how to tap on them – the teachers’ day promotion that I ran was inspired by this, and it was very well received. Practical tips like this are very helpful to small business owners like myself.”
Last month, OCBC announced that it has created a pathway for its staff to be data analytics certified. OCBC Bank’s Data Certification Pathway is first data analytics and digital programme to obtain industry accreditation. This gives OCBC Bank employees an industry-recognised certificate to become qualified data analysts, fully funded by the bank.
OCBC Bank’s Data Certification Pathway has received accreditation by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and employees who successfully complete the programme will be recognised as qualified data analysts. This effort supports Singapore’s drive to grow the Singapore core for the data and technology field.
The Data Certification Pathway is the first programme in the field of digital and data analytics which the IBF, the national accreditation body for financial industry in Singapore, has accredited. This accreditation – IBF Qualified (Level 1) in Digital and Data Analytics – is a notable recognition as it is an industry-endorsed mark of quality that indicates the attainment of relevant core competencies by data practitioners. The competencies include Programming and Coding, Data Governance, Data Storytelling and Visualisation, Data Computation and Modelling, Data Mining and more.
OCBC Bank had also opened the pathway to members of the public under the MySkillsFuture portal. The pathway consists of a progressive set of 13 modules which are conducted by Ngee Ann Polytechnic as well as reputable industry practitioners worldwide. The course structure and content were formulated to focus on practical skills needed for data roles based on consultation with industry practitioners, including OCBC Bank’s Head of Group Customer Analytics and Decisioning (GCAD), Mr Donald Macdonald. Upon completion of each module, members of the public will receive a certificate from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.