With a growing number of startups and more interests in entrepreneurship amongst Singaporeans, the Labour Movement introduced the U Startup initiative in 2016 to help startups, startup founders and ultimately, working professionals in startups.
Over the past year, U Startup has reached out to about 1,000 startup founders and partners to better understand the startup landscape.
This reflects how the Labour Movement is adopting different approaches to meet the evolving needs of its working people – from helping working people through unions to helping professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) through professional associations and guilds, reaching out to workers in small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) through their bosses and HR managers, and reaching out to even the freelancers and self-employed (FSEs).
Leveraging the Labour Movement’s growing network, U Startup provides targeted help to the startup community through four key pillars: business network, domain experts, talent attraction and funding partners.
a) Business network
Providing startups with both industry-specific business matching workshops and generic workshops targeted at business expansion and overseas expansion.
b) Domain experts
Connecting startup founders with industry and business leaders from across the Labour Movement’s ecosystem, allowing them to learn from their experience and helping them overcome business challenges.
c) Talent attraction
Working with National Trades Union Congress’s (NTUC) e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and NTUC’s U PME Centre to match suitable talent with growing startups through career coaching services and P-Max programme. E2i will also work with U Startup on developing career fairs for startups to match Singaporeans with good jobs.
d) Access to funding partners
Bringing together banks, investors and financial associations that provide fund matching, financial workshops and legal clinics to help startups explore funding options.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the top three career choices for our students. Many startups of today, as potential SMEs and unicorns, would collectively form significant employers of tomorrow. Hence, the Labour Movement is committed to support the startup ecosystem and lay the ground for its future workforce. NTUC’s U Startup wants to help startup founders connect to business networks, expert advice and talent. We also seek to help working professionals within startups grow and develop professionally alongside the startups that they are working for,” said Mr Vivek Kumar, NTUC Assistant Director-General and Director of NTUC’s U Startup.
As a continuation of the Labour Movement’s efforts to help working people, U Startup is also doing its part to support Singapore’s growing startup scene. In conjunction with friends and partners of U Startup, the first U Startup Day was held on March 30. The day-long event showcased how the Labour Movement tapped on its network to help the startup community address their business and manpower needs.
The founders of startup also had an insightful dialogue with NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, took part in a panel discussion on “Financing your Startup”, and learnt more about harnessing the strength of their talent pool, experiences and better pitch to achieve their company goals during a startup accelerator workshop.
For working professionals, there was a Startup Career Fair, jointly organised by U Start Up and the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), one of NTUC’s U Associates, which featured more than 100 startups with over 300 full-time, part-time and internship positions.
Moving forward, U Startup will continue to leverage the Labour Movement, expanding network and partner industry players in the startup scene to co-develop programmes and explore other value-added services to help grow the startup ecosystem.
With a stronger startup ecosystem, U Startup can better support working professionals through training programmes, career coaching services and also offer startups as an alternative career option.