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As of April 3, 1.52 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Singapore. But what it’s like after getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Co-operator spoke to SNCF Chairman Mr Tng Ah Yiam, SNCF CEO Mr Ang Hin Kee and TCC Chairman Mr Shareef Bin Abdul Jaffar on their vaccination experience.


On registration…

“The registration process was such a breeze. There was minimal waiting time, and I was ushered for my first jab within a couple minutes upon reaching the centre,” said Mr Shareef.

On first dose…

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Mr Ang receiving his vaccination

Mr Ang shared: “Before the vaccine was administered, the staff asked about my allergies (if any) and explained all possible symptoms one may get. I had some minor numbness on my arm but no fever or soreness”. 

Mr Shareef agreed: “I must commend our health authorities for the excellent arrangements to facilitate the vaccination. I hardly felt the jab of the needle. I experienced no pain but do remember tossing a little whilst I slept that night. The next morning, I felt normal.”

“I also didn’t experience any discomfort,” added Mr Tng.

On second dose…

Both Mr Tng and Mr Ang experienced a mild headache which lasted for a day. Mr Ang said: “I had some soreness on the arm and a mild headache on the second day. Nothing a Panadol cannot help to relieve the symptoms”. 

On vaccination…

“I will encourage all fellow co-operators to get their jab so that we can protect ourselves and our family members,” said Mr Shareef.

Mr Tng added: “Let’s continue to observe the various safe management measures and if scheduled, to consider getting vaccinated. That will put us closer to the path of getting back to the normal we were all accustomed to in the past”.

With more of us getting vaccinated, it will protect ourselves and the people around us. We can also look forward to further reopening of activities in the community and economy. Meanwhile, let’s continue to remain vigilant, observing safe measurement measures to keep everyone safe till the population is protected.

To help co-operatives embrace technology to move forward, SNCF organised a series of online sharing sessions on digital related topics since June 2020.  This year, the focus will be on using digital tools that could aid co-operatives in their work and especially in strengthening their social media presence.

SNCF held its first quarterly online sharing session for the year on 25 March. The session on Learn To Design Using Canva (Basic), was attended by more than 60 participants from over 20 co-operatives. Canva is a free graphic designing tool that helps users to create graphics for their presentations, posters, documents, and social media.

The speaker, Ms Denise Ong, who is SNCF Scholar (2019), shared how to create graphics easily using Canva template or from scratch. She also shared handy tips such as adding various elements like graphic text, and abstract shapes to make the design attractive.

The session was well received, with many co-operators expressing its usefulness and that they have a better understanding of how to use Canva.  We certainly look forward to seeing more co-operators creating interesting and beautiful graphics in their work and in particular on the social media space.

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heart series banner thrift

The last letter of our H.E.A.R.T. series concludes with the value of ‘thrift’.

What comes to mind when you think of thrift?

Some may think it involves doing some retail therapy in thrift stores; while others may think that it has to do with buying cheap. Not to be misconceived as being stingy, the word thrift is used to describe the quality and practice of being careful with money and not wasting things. Being thrifty means being mindful of one’s spending habits which entails getting the best value for a low cost and spending less on the non-essentials.

On this note, two co-operators share why being thrifty is an incredibly good thing.

Mr John Raghavan, Chairman of Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-operative (SGS Credit Co-op), the first co-operative to be registered in Singapore, offered some tips on how to stretch the dollar.

  • Capitalise on promotions and sales but spend wisely. Be money-smart. If you have set your mind to go shopping, at least be on the lookout for the best bargains. Take time to look for good promotional deals, for example, one-for-one deals or purchases that give you the best bang for your buck.

    Travel used to be a major expense in our budget. With travel restrictions, many have accumulated some savings. Thanks to the government, “SingapoRediscovers vouchers” and “Singapoliday” are two familiar terms we’ve been hearing a lot lately. All the reason to rejoice and one way to stretch the dollar. With the $100 worth of SingapoRediscovers vouchers, Singaporeans can spend on hotel stays, attractions tickets and local tours. Furthermore, we’re helping to support tourism businesses, which have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • You can also adopt the value of thrift in ways such as having home-cooked food, not eating out frequently and cutting down on extravagant festivities or celebrations. These can be a huge money saver.

  • Make your money work harder for you. You can save with SGS Credit Co-op for a higher return.

Ms Denise Ong, SNCF Scholar, shared her own views on how, as a youth and student, she manages her expenditure.

  • Make every dollar count in your budget. I track my expenses and find areas that I can cut down on by using cheaper alternatives. Take for example, my expenditure on meals. I have discovered that economic rice, or commonly known as cai fan in Mandarin, i.e. a one-meat two-vegetable meal, offers an affordable and healthy dietary option. I have become a huge fan of cai fan.

  • Hone your bargain-hunting skills and look for cheaper deals instead of paying the full price for an item. I take advantage of promotional campaigns such as one-for-one deals and student meals with my family and friends. This way, we get to spend a little less to enjoy a little more!

  • Another tip is to tap on companies' reward system benefits. My family will spend together and accumulate points to exchange these points for discounts and rewards! One example is our accumulation of Healthpoints on the Healthy 365 app which we redeemed them for NTUC FairPrice vouchers. It is also good to ensure that if we have a credit card, we choose one that has the best cash back rewards and rebates. But of course, that doesn’t give us the excuse to spend more.

  • Here’s my best kept budget secret. My budgeting proportion changes every few months. For example, during the holiday season, I allocate a greater proportion of my allowance on spending, because of possible meetups with friends over meals or anticipated additional expenditure on shopping. On normal days, a greater proportion will be allocated to savings and investments.

There are positive benefits of living a thriftier lifestyle. Exercising thriftiness can help you save more money, improve your financial stability and lead to a lower level of financial stress and greater freedom.

We hope the H.E.A.R.T series has helped you outline areas that can ready your co-operatives and yourselves for a world of changing needs. Catch up the full series below:

Health – Your Health is Your Wealth
Empathy – The Power of Empathy
Adaptability – Adaptability – Our Best Asset
Resilience – Resilience for the Long Haul
Thrift – Putting A High Value on Thrift

Co-operatives that thrive sustainably are the ones that have strong foundations and constantly adopt technology and innovative processes to stay attuned to members’ needs. Co-operatives can tap on the Enhanced CCF Grant Framework to build capabilities, innovate, and transform.  The Enhanced CCF Grant Framework is It is made up of four components: (1) CCF Development Grant; (2) CCF Training Grant; (3) CCF Special Grants; and (4) CCF New Co-operative Grant.

Singapore Prison Service Multi-purpose Co-operative leverages CCF Development Grant to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations and to strengthen its operating capabilities so as to provide better and enhanced services to its members.  The CCF Development Grant comprises Productivity Solutions, Facilities Enhancement, Professional Services, Salary (full time accountant), and Digital, Social Media and Other Marketing Expenses.

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Mr Lloyd Phua said: “The CCF Development Grant provides 80% of the funding support. The Productivity Solutions enabled us to adopt IT solutions and equipment which helped us to improve business operations. For example, Abacus, a web-based platform. Abacus is cost-effective and an easy-to-use system which helps us to serve our members in a timely manner. We also make use of the Professional Services for bookkeeping / accounting services and statutory audit fee to enhance our governance and operational efficiency.”

“It is easy to apply for grants. SNCF has been very helpful and prompt in the entire application process. They also guided us through the process and the type of documents we would need for our application,” he continued.

Indeed, there are various grants provided under the Enhanced CCF Grant Framework that co-operatives can tap on, to scale up. Here, we list down the various grants:

  1. CCF Development Grant enhances co-operatives’ capabilities, governance, and operational efficiency. The grant is available every year.

  2. CCF Training Grant provides funding of courses, seminars and conferences to help co-operative officers improve their knowledge and learn relevant skills for the running of their co-operative.

  3. CCF Special Grants provide co-funding for specific schemes and projects such as legal services grant, outsourced internal audit grant, minimum competency training grant, and the PDPA grant that co-funds PDPA-related expenditure, such as training, consultancy, audit, legal advice and DPTM expenses.
  4. CCF New Co-operative Grant is available to newly registered co-operatives. It is used to support the initial set-up costs and operating expenses for up to three years.

Know Our Co-ops series

Co-operatives have been an integral part of shaping Singapore, touching the lives of more than 1.4 million members. Co-operatives were birthed out of shared needs, responsibility and commitment to each other and to the society, and were amongst the earliest community self-help organisations to take root in Singapore.

The Know Our Co-ops series aims to let our affiliates to get to know each other better; appreciate each other's good work; and encourage conversations which can lead to collaborations. After all, we are in the same business to make a difference.

SGM 1Photo credit: SGM Co-op

Do you know that one of the oldest co-operatives (co-ops) in Singapore is a credit co-op for the Malay ‘cikgus’ of Singapore? Registered on 7 September 1931, Syarikat Guru Melayu Singapura Koperatif Bhd (SGM) was then known as Singapore Malay Guru’s (Teachers’) Co-operative Thrift and Loan Society Limited.

The credit co-op started with over 90 Malay teachers, and an asset of $15,000. The Co-op initially carried out its activities at its temporary office at Fullerton Building before shifting to its first office located at Sekolah Melayu Kota Raja. In 1965, the Co-op moved to 3F and 5A Paya Lebar Road. It operated at the Paya Lebar office for 34 years before moving to its acquired asset at 785 Geylang Road in 1999 which remains its main office today.

By 1976, the Co-op’s membership had grown to 1,571 members. In the same year, the Co-op was renamed Singapore Malay Teachers’ Multi-Purpose Co-operative Limited to better reflect its objectives which include businesses like childcare centres and investments. In 1999, the Co-op changed its name to Singapore Malay Teachers’ Co-operative Limited or Syarikat Guru Melayu Singapura Koperatif Bhd (SGM).

The primary objective for the setting up of the Co-op is to safeguard the economy of the Malay teachers by encouraging thrift and providing loans. Thus, the Co-op’s services cover savings, loans and Dana Kebajikan Bersama (welfare fund).

Savings Plans

SGM members have two mandatory savings accounts - Mudharabah Share Capital and Mudharabah Subscriptions, from which they can earn annual dividends, depending on SGM’s surplus. The Mudharabah Share Capital is meant for members who are owners of the Co-op, while the Mudharabah Subscriptions is to inculcate good saving habits among all members.

There are three other optional savings plans that encourage members save for specific purposes, namely, for members’ short-term expenses like vacations and festive seasons, pilgrimage travels, members and their children’s education. 

Loan Services

SGM offers all its members various types of personal loans that would meet members’ short- or medium-term needs such as education, renovation, medical, and wedding, and at low administrative costs.

Dana Kebajikan Bersama

To inculcate co-op values such as mutual help amongst members, the Dana Kebajikan Bersama (welfare fund) provides financial grants to members and their registered dependants for situations such as demise, illness or hospitalisation, force majeure event or other calamities, and education of the children of a member, who is a sole breadwinner, in the event of his/her spouse’s death.

Childcare Centre Services

Today, SGM runs two preschool centres - SGM Murni Childcare Development Centre at Tampines and SGM Little Kidz at Rivervale which offer full and half-day childcare services. SGM Little Kidz also provides infant care services.

SGM 2Photo credit: SGM Co-op

The Co-op stolidly evolves and remains relevant to its community of Malay teachers, providing quality financial and other personalised membership products and services based on the co-operative principles for its Malay teachers. The Co-op is now working towards a Syariah Compliance principles for its members.

To quote a SGM member who has been with the Co-op for over 25 years: “In the past, the co-op’s activities revolved around providing financial and credit services. But today, there are many other activities that the co-op organises for its members. That is why I am still a member. Other activities include organised tours and special events. Through these activities, we get to meet other teachers (retired or currently in service) and renew ties with comrades.”

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
510 Thomson Road #12-02
SLF Building, Singapore 298135
Email: [email protected]
Tel (65) 6602 0747, Fax (65) 6259 9577

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