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Speech by Prof Tan Tai Yong at the SUSS-RSM MOU Signing and Seminar

  • Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mr Derek How, Partner & Head, CPA Practice, RSM
  • Esteemed members of the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME)
  • Distinguished guests.


  1. A very good afternoon and warm welcome to the MOU signing between Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and our esteemed partner, RSM.
  1. This MOU represents the dynamic collaboration and synergy between our institutions to empower businesses and the workforce, and we are happy to embark today on a journey that will redefine the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sustainability and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Impact of ESG among SMEs

  1. In today's global landscape, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly shaping how businesses and organisations are perceived by the public. There is a growing awareness of the benefits that sustainability reporting brings to both investors and companies, leading to the integration of ESG frameworks into business practices worldwide.
  1. Making up 99% of businesses and employing approximately 70% of our workforce, SMEs are vital to Singapore’s economy and possess a unique advantage in leading the way towards sustainability, as their nimbleness and adaptability allow them to implement change more swiftly than larger corporations.
  1. The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is designed to foster sustainable development and provide provisions to support SMEs in embracing ESG practices. By forging strong partnerships with our stakeholders and the government, Singapore's SMEs can unlock the benefits of integrating ESG practices into their operations.


SUSS’s Efforts and Contributions

  1. But SMEs face many challenges. They include:
    • A lack of awareness and appreciation of the importance and benefits of ESG,
    • A possible lack of expertise, skillset or tools required to implement ESG properly and,
    • Lack of awareness and understanding among stakeholders, leading to resistance to change and willingness to implement ESG and sustainable practices.
  1. At SUSS, we recognise the need for sustainability training tailored specifically for SMEs to empower them to overcome these challenges. We also strive to be a thought leader through applied research and consultancy on social issues in Singapore. Our Centre of Excellence for Social Good (CESG) aims to forge connections among the People, Public and Private sectors to establish a learning hub for social good and address strategic skill gaps in the People sector through the Social Entrepreneurship framework and workplace learning initiatives for individuals.
  1. With this comprehensive approach and through our active partnerships with industry leaders like RSM, we are committed to empowering SME stakeholders with various training opportunities and upcoming programmes in their sustainability journey. These include:
    • A new Master of Social Entrepreneurship (Sustainability track) to address the strategic thinking gaps highlighted in SkillsFuture to be launched in 2024 and;
    • Social Entrepreneurship programmes offering a multidisciplinary and applied learning approach for those looking to upskill quickly through bite-sized education on demand.
  1. We also offer a Graduate Diploma in Sustainability Management and a range of short courses that allow learners to upskill on demand. For example, our CET course "Sustainability Reporting: Global Frameworks and Implementation Roadmap" provides participants with practical knowledge of sustainability reporting which can be immediately implemented in businesses.
  1. To date, 44 participants have completed our programmes with promising results and insights for SMEs.  Also, I am happy that we have at least 50 SME participants joining us at the Sustainability seminar that will take place later today.


Partnership with RSM

  1. Besides providing learning opportunities, SUSS believes in fostering partnerships with industry. Therefore, we are honoured to partner with RSM, an industry leader committed to delivering quality services to support the growth and success of businesses in Singapore.  
  1. As part of our partnership and with the signing of today’s MOU, we endeavour to contribute and empower SMEs by:
    • Researching the impact of sustainability and ESG performance on SMEs to better understand their needs and ways they can be supported.
    • Developing frameworks, case studies and guidelines for SMEs to better incorporate sustainability into their business models.
    • Making training and knowledge accessible for SMEs to incorporate sustainable practices into their businesses.
  1. Through our partnership with RSM, our institution will gain access to global best practices in sustainability for SMEs and a pool of experts in ESG, while opening up new channels for SUSS to expand and strengthen our industry connections with SMEs to enable the exchange of valuable insights and experiences. This collaboration will also allow the SME community to gain further knowledge and invaluable resources in embracing sustainable practices.
  1. By incorporating insights and knowledge from industry experts, we can equip SMEs with the latest and practical skills required to adapt ESG into businesses and allow them to become more sustainable in the long run.


  1. I wish to express my appreciation to RSM for embarking with us on this very meaningful purpose and to the Associate of SMEs for your support and assistance in spreading the word of our cause to the SME sector. Thank you.


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