Being a business owner for over 30 years, Mr. Desmond Aw, owner of Dreamland Production, describes the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as ‘disappointing’ & ‘miserable’. “I have been doing this for over 30 years, and this is the first time in my life that I am facing such a huge amount of losses. The situation is very unpredictable and it’s hard on all of us.”
Dreamland Production provides a number of services, including event organising, copyright publishing for karaoke companies and also sells merchandise from various artists in Hong Kong, Taiwan & Korea. Following the Ministry of Health’s advisory to defer or cancel all non-essential large-scale events, Dreamland Production had no other choice but to cease their business activities. “All events with above 250 attendees have been cancelled. We also had to stop the sale of our merchandise as it is not considered an essential service, we have made big losses and we have no income coming in.” says Mr. Aw.
When asked about his strategy to manage his business’s cashflow during this period, Mr. Aw explained that he has requested 4 of his 5 workers to take ‘No-Pay Leaves’ in order to reduce business expenses. “I am unable to pay for their salaries as the business has stopped. We are just waiting for the government to announce when businesses will be able to resume operations.”
During this period, Mr. Aw has also reached out to 4 banking institutions in hopes of obtaining a bridging loan, however till date, he has not received a response. “Many banks are short-handed. I talked to a banker and they told me that it would take some time before they can get back to me. For now, I still have not gotten back from any of the banks I applied to.”
Being a smaller sub-contractor for many of the larger scale events, Mr. Aw has been facing difficulties when it comes to collection of outstanding payments from the main contractors. “I think they have made bigger losses than us due to all the refunds from ticket sales” And even shared about diving into his own savings to honour ticket refunds “As of now, we have refunded about $160,000 back to customers, and this money came from my own wallet as my company does not have the funds.”
Even after facing so many setbacks, Mr. Aw still remains positive and hopes that the local community can get together to support the SMEs in Singapore, “This is a really hard time for all of us. The most important thing is that everyone will be able to understand the plight of SME businesses and maybe try to help out. Right now, I am taking it one step at a time. I think that is the only thing I can do at this moment.”
Our SMEs truly need our support during this challenging period, and there is no better time than now for us to come together as one community, to rally around our good local SMEs, so we can all patronise them when it’s safe to be back out in the world again.
In times like this, tell us about your willingness to help our good local SMEs, enter our poll and let us know!