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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
Tel: 9820 5730


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