SMEs at different stages of ESG journey, targeted help needed to reap benefits: Industry players

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SINGAPORE – Singapore modular solar panel company Photovoltaic Foundry expects to see its revenue increase from $2 million to $3 million in 2023.

That is a 50 per cent growth and the realisation of a dream six years in the making for the company’s founder and chief executive officer Liong Hang Cek, thanks to a $650,000 green finance loan he received from DBS Bank.

With the loan, he was able to unlock another revenue stream: a power purchase agreement (PPA), which refers to a long-term electricity supply agreement between two parties.

Previously, Photovoltaic Foundry’s customers had only one option – to buy and maintain solar panels. With the PPA, potential clients now have a separate option – to buy the energy generated from the solar panels installed on their building at a discounted price.

The money from the loan is used to finance such projects.

“Typically, it’s hard for an SME to expand our balance sheet,” said Mr Liong, who started his company seven years ago. “This year, I expect revenue to grow substantially provided I continue to get green financing.”

Mr Liong said his company’s carbon footprint is “very negligible”, with six staff taking up an office space of less than 100 sq m, so much of their time is spent thinking about how to reduce their clients’ carbon footprint.

Being able to help other companies reduce their carbon emissions and improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) score is, however, not the norm among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Stakeholders, such as banks advising companies on their green efforts, say SMEs are often unsure how to go about doing so for their own businesses.

Although there are green loans for SMEs offered by the various banks here, some businesses may not yet be at the stage where they can a...

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