Singapore-Turkey Joint Training Programme: SME Development and Entrepreneurship
Singapore-Turkey Joint Training Programme: SME Development and Entrepreneurship
Human capital development to boost SME and entrepreneurial ecosystems in multiple countries


Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship are important components of prosperity and social welfare. Innovation, productivity and new business plans produce economic growth. Therefore, many governments are prioritizing support for and enhancement of entrepreneurship. Eliminating the obstacles to greater and more inclusive entrepreneurship and the growth of SMEs as a step toward poverty reduction requires intense support to and within developing countries.

While the importance of entrepreneurship in the development strategies of countries in the global South is gaining traction, many Southern countries face challenges that include lack of experience with start-up accelerators and incubators, limited background in venture management and inadequate education and skills training for entrepreneurship.

The countries involved in the Singapore-Turkey Joint Training Programme each face additional specific challenges. Fiji and Vanuatu recognize that generating business ideas is a challenge, as well as marketing businesses and finding markets for their products. In Cambodia and Lao PDR, funding, partner-matching and mentoring new entrepreneurs are the main challenges noted. Indonesia, Myanmar and Nigeria face high bureaucracy and start-up costs for establishing businesses, leaving many potential entrepreneurs in these countries behind.

Towards a Solution

Small- and medium-sized enterprises are a pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing 48 percent of the GDP and employing 65 percent of the workforce. SMEs ac- count for 99.8 percent of the registered businesses in Turkey and employ more than 73 percent of the workforce.

To help the countries mentioned in the Challenges section above to im- prove their entrepreneurial environments, the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) developed a joint training programme covering how to create a viable SME, start-up ecosystem and mentorships to foster entrepreneurship. Sustainable development goals such as No Poverty (1), Good Jobs and Economic Growth (8) and Partnerships for the Goals (17) were specially addressed during the triangular cooperation project. The SAMOA Pathway priority area “Means of implementation, including partnerships- capacity-building” was also addressed.

The training was conducted in an interactive manner, with a mixture of presentations, exercises, discussions and field visits. Singaporean and Turkish know-how on global opportunities, internationalizing startups and the role of innovation and technology, were highlights of the training. Other areas explored were key enablers of entrepreneurship, how to enhance the SME ecosystem with technology and innovations, and good practices related to grant and loan initiatives available for entrepreneurs and SMEs. The participants shared their respective policies and initiatives that facilitate the growth of SMEs, start-ups, innovation and technopreneurship in their countries.

In a facilitated session, participants created a roadmap for SME development in their countries. This was followed by group presentations from each of the seven countries represented. The Cambodian representatives, for example, shared challenges in the tourism sector, such as in- adequate English language training, insufficient direct international flight connectivity to tourist destinations and poor quality and low hygiene standards in the foodservice sector. They also exchanged ideas on SMEs in the agricultural sector; challenges discussed included the need for better road networks, train services, labour force skills, quality assurance and marketing. The Fiji delegates found their main challenge in the agricultural sector was policy implementation. Representatives from Myanmar shared their know-how on SMEs in the manufacturing sector, noting that the country lacked skilled labour, infrastructure, vocational training, financing and marketing capacity. Turkish and Singaporean experts were able to offer alternative solutions and good practices in the scope of a sound entrepreneurial journey.

Eleven participants from seven countries completed the training and were awarded certificates. The course was well received and all participants indicated they learned a great deal from the sessions and site visits. Participants observed that the most beneficial topics of the training were:

  • designing start-ups;
  • incubatorsandaccelerators;
  • learning from the Singapore government’s policies for developing SMEs;
  • understandingSMEecosystems;and
  • the panel discussions on business and operational considerations.

The delegates’ assessments stated that their week-long experience in Singapore was extremely beneficial to them both professionally and personally. Interaction with the facilitators, seeing and learning from actual business challenges and achievements, site visits and creating a start-up roadmap were innovative aspects of the training and believed to have the potential to improve competitive advantages in the countries by stimulating and enhancing human capital. A concrete takeaway was that to develop SMEs in their home countries, such cross-country projects and experience sharing have the potential to enhance economic growth.

The training made clear the primacy of supportive and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems for meeting the development goals of most countries. As the training was identified as a good practice, it is being publicized to more countries and practitioners through news and posts on websites and social media pages of both SCP and TİKA.


Contact Information

Strategy Development Department Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA)

Countries involved

Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nigeria, Singapore, Türkiye, Vanuatu

Supported by

Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA)

Implementing Entities

Bluetrack Centre, (Singapore), Small And Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB), Turkey

Project Status


Project Period

7/2019 - 7/2019

URL of the practice

Primary SDG

08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Secondary SDGs

01 - No Poverty, 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

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