After navigating the turbulence of the past two years, Singapore has set its sights firmly on the future as it seeks to capitalize on the post-pandemic rebound. The government has removed almost all Covid-related restrictions and has since embarked on a strategy to sustain Singapore’s longer-term relevance while supporting businesses as they return to a growth trajectory.
Like other countries around the world, however, Singapore faces challenges on multiple fronts, including heightened inflation that threatens to push economies into recession. Rising food and energy prices worldwide are a result of persistent supply chain issues that have been exacerbated partly by China’s zero-Covid approach and the supply shock from the war in Ukraine.
However, economists are cautiously optimistic that Singapore will avoid a technical recession, which is defined by two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. After the GDP dipped slightly by 0.2% for Q2, 2022, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the economy appears set to return to quarter-on-quarter growth for the rest of the year.
Reaping the Benefits of Transformation
Despite the uncertain global landscape, companies based in Singapore will continue to reap the benefits of digital and business model transformation efforts undertaken in recent years. Initiatives aimed at streamlining processes, embracing digitalization and finding new avenues for growth have resulted in more sustainable businesses that are better equipped to navigate volatility and capture new opportunities.
For instance, Singapore-based pharmaceuticals group Zuellig Pharma consistently taps into innovation and technology to more effectively serve its stakeholders as part of its broader mission to make healthcare more accessible to the communities it serves.
In the education sector, Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) has also embraced innovation to help its learners acquire skills and knowledge that are relevant for the rapidly evolving future of work. In July this year, SIM rolled out a rebranded identity to reflect this commitment to an industry-focused and skills-based approach to lifelong learning.
Meanwhile, one of Singapore’s leading entrepreneurs, Sam Goi of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is leveraging a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to emerge stronger from the pandemic, as he seeks to play a key role in Singapore’s bid for nutritional self-sufficiency.
Riding the Post-pandemic Rebound
The global hospitality industry is also witnessing a welcome recovery as global travel bounces back strongly, with some Singapore-based players having returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity.
A case in point is Radisson Hotel Group (RHG), which recently unveiled an Asia Pacific (APAC) Expansion Plan that aims to grow its portfolio from around 400 properties in the region to more than 2,000 hotels and resorts by 2025. The expansion plan focuses on five strategic growth markets—India, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand—and RHG’s strategy will be powered by building local development and operations teams with local language capabilities in these markets.
The healthcare sector is another beneficiary of the post-pandemic rebound. IHH Healthcare—which operates 80 hospitals in ten countries under leading brands such as Fortis, Parkway and Pantai—saw its business plummet by almost 80% during the crisis, pushing the company into a loss for the first time in many years.
Through the uncertainty, IHH, which is listed in Malaysia and Singapore, stayed true to its mission to become the world’s most trusted healthcare services provider. The group’s decision to follow its moral compass has since paid dividends, and it has come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.
Committed to Sustainability
Many of these companies are focused on incorporating sustainability into their operations, even as they chase business expansion. IHH recently introduced its “Care. For Good.” vision, which aims to create sustainable value for all its stakeholders. This involves not only taking care of patients, but also its people, the public and the planet.
Meanwhile, Zuellig Pharma has put in place a sustainability framework that outlines 22 material issues grouped under four themes: Setting the Highest Standards of Integrity, Nurturing Talent, Improving Health Outcomes, and Respecting the Environment. RHG has also developed an APAC Expansion Plan in line with the group’s sustainability targets, reinforcing its commitment to become net zero by 2050.
Other organizations are more directly engaged in promoting sustainability in an effort to address climate change. One such enterprise is Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX), a commercial operation based in Singapore that launched the world’s first non-profit, fully integrated and blockchain-protected plastic offset program. PCX offers brands a way to achieve their sustainability goals by showing them that there is an effective, achievable way to clean up their plastic waste.
The Singapore Edge
Looking ahead, companies and entrepreneurs from around the world will undoubtedly continue to set up shop in Singapore, attracted by the city-state’s well-known strengths of global connectivity, ease of doing business and good governance. Drawn by these strengths, Sudhir Agarwal came to Singapore in 2016 to build a global business process outsourcing enterprise from scratch. In just six years, his company, Everise, has grown into an industry powerhouse that is expected to register around half a billion U.S. dollars in revenue this year.
Agarwal credits operating out of Singapore as one factor that has given him a competitive edge in the industry. “I chose Singapore because of the ease of setting up the company and doing business here. I was clear that Everise would be built on the important pillar of governance, which we all know is very strong in Singapore.”