Portraits of Purpose - “No time to waste”

Pandemic or not, Mr Wong Hing Kong has his gaze fixed firmly on the future

no time to waste

We hear Mr Wong Hing Kong’s loud greeting before we see him. His cheerful demeanour extends to his staff, whom he has a strong rapport with. The director of Unidbox Hardware, Mr Wong, 46, does not look like a retailer reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, he is busier than ever, going full steam ahead to digitalise his business.

“I am in the process of developing an app. We are also going to go on Facebook Live, so that we can interact more with our customers. This is what it means to do business. No matter the situation, we remain decisive, and we move accordingly,” he says.

The reason for this ferocity in which he’s pushing through with his digitalisation plan is two-fold – to ready the business in case there is a resurgence of Covid-19 cases and he has to close his physical stores again, plus he’s got the support he needs to make these investments.

Mr Wong laughingly recalls what “work from home” meant for his employees during Singapore’s circuit breaker period. “We had to move entire desktop computers to their homes!” he quips. Now, the company has laptops.

Mr Wong currently has three retail stores. Before the pandemic hit, he started selling his products online, and his goods can now be found on platforms like Lazada, Shoppee and Qoo10.

“I had to learn how to sell my goods online as well. I learnt with my staff. Luckily we signed up for the classes before the pandemic hit. I think we are good students. Within two months or so, we were ready to go.”

While online sales helped keep his business going during the circuit breaker period, fast business loans online from DBS also provided some reassurance.

“There is no need to fear if one has support,” he says. “The loan I have taken from DBS gives me the assurance that I’ll be okay, and there have been many government subsidies and rebates to help business owners like me too. The worst will pass.”

The temporary bridging loan that Mr Wong took was part of DBS’ commitment to reinforce its support for micro and small enterprise customers during this challenging Covid-19 period. Between March 2020 to mid-June 2020, DBS approved over 6,100 loans under Enterprise Singapore's financing schemes totalling over SGD 1.8 billion to micro and small enterprises.

Not only did the loan allow Mr Wong to manage any potential cash flow issues as a result of the pandemic, it allowed him to purchase the equipment that was needed for the big move online.

“The interest rate offered by DBS was low too, so it was a safe undertaking,” he adds.

DBS and FMAS have been collaborating on solutions to ease the cash flow challenges faced by heartland enterprises to ensure that working capital support reaches the most challenged micro and small businesses.

Even though his goods are moving fast online, his retail shops have still taken a hit. He remains undeterred.

“Life must go on, no matter how difficult it is. Business owners now need to be more forward looking. There is no more time to waste.”
- Mr Wong Hing Kong, director of Unidbox Hardware

“Even if there is a steep learning curve, be confident, and move your business online. There are many incentives now to digitalise businesses, and banks like DBS are extending a helping hand – there is no better time than now,” he says.

Click here for more stories of courage, perseverance, generosity and hope amidst this pandemic – and of the people who demonstrate what it means to be purpose-driven.

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