As growing numbers of Singaporeans are starting their own businesses, a government agency is stepping up efforts to reach out to these budding entrepreneurs in their own neighbourhoods.
Since the start of the year, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore (Acra) has begun holding regular free public talks in the heartland to give entrepreneurs a basic rundown of how to start and run a business in Singapore.
The Acra @ The Heartlands public talks are being held every quarter at community clubs and feature speakers from government agencies such as the Central Provident Fund, the Housing Board, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and Spring Singapore.
Participants learn about how to register a business, what kind of business entities they can form, the main legal requirements for businesses, how to use an HDB flat as a home office, how to meet CPF and tax obligations, and how to tap government grants and incentives.
Acra's own legal officers take part in these talks on a pro bono basis to teach participants about the important legal requirements under Singapore's business laws.
"Acra's legal officers are encouraged to give back to the community by participating in talks which provide public education on business laws and regulations to the community at large," said Acra chief executive Kenneth Yap.
"Interacting directly with the ground also helps our officers reflect on how the law can be more responsive to the needs of smaller businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs."
Response to the talks has been healthy. The latest one, held at Yuhua Community Club last Saturday, was originally planned for 400 attendees but close to 650 residents turned up.
Ms Grace Fu, the adviser to Yuhua grassroots organisations and a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said the talks were a good avenue from which business owners can learn about government requirements.
"The opportunity for them to clarify their doubts by asking the government representatives in person would save them much hassle from having to navigate through the myriad of agencies and, more significantly, avoid the costs of non-compliance," she said.
Mr Yap said one major reason the agency decided to hold these talks regularly was the rising number of people starting their own firms in recent years. Last year, more than 56,000 new firms were registered with Acra.