Totally, I think that's when after we've gone the route of having university partners, we start to get a lot of associations calling us. I think that's where we start to think about professional education, because we actually have government agencies coming to us and said, Are you able to co-brand with us, like SPRING-SMU? So we said, What do you have in mind? They say SPRING is a government agency and we have to train many small-medium enterprises, because those are our customers and we are happy to fund them on subsidised program to learn about management skills. But these are entrepreneurs, they are owners and to entice them to come back to school, they don't want exams. But they cannot learn about one week of management, taking a whole week off their work because they are running a business. So can you customise for us two-days or three-day program in a month but stretch it over a period of six months? So, in total, maybe an eighteen-day program and the Government will subsidise. SPRING says, we will co-fund for all those companies that meet our criteria and it could be 50-50, but we want our name there. So we want SPRING to be there, we want SMU name to be there, and we will co-fund you from back-end. The client when they complete the program will get a reimbursement of fifty percent of the cost.
That's the beautiful thing about Singapore government. They've gone beyond funding projects; they've gone to funding talent. So we said, Great, it's a win-win proposition. If the Government is willing to invest, we are willing to go one step more. Then we turned to the Government again and we said, Look, we would love to do this program, we love having you, but many of these SMEs [small and medium enterprises] come in to the class would say, eighteen days, what's so special about this three-day, three-day program? And SPRING is very kind, they say, Yes, I agree with you, what is so special? I said, I want to write a local case for each of the three days. I do not want to just deliver a program. I want to create IP [intellectual property]. I want us to own the IP. So SPRING say, How much would you need? I said, For every case, we need X dollars and we will co-own the IP. So, SPRING, you could use the case, but SMU will own the IP, we could use the case. And we'll use this case in this classroom, but we may use the case in our other classrooms, but we'll give credit where credit is due.
So, each of the six modules come with one local case. So, instead of talking about Starbucks, we wrote about Ya Kun. We wrote about Ya Kun as a business, Ya Kun as a franchise, we had Adrin Loi [Adrin Loi Boon Sim], the owner, the founder of Ya Kun on camera like this, being interviewed. We have a case study, we have a case teaching note. And the faculty who was teaching that module on strategy, will invite Adrin Loi into the classroom if he could make it after lunch for a lunch-time talk. And if he can't make it, what happens is we play the tape of him speaking to the audience. And it's amazing, Pat, because not only does Adrin come in for close to about three to four runs, he brought in his kaya jam and give it to all the attendees because he is so proud of the Ya Kun label.
That's the beauty of executive education. We don't only have relationships with each of those modules, with each of the case writer and the subject, but we have also touched the lives of growing companies, so it did not need a brand name partner anymore. SMU is now known to be very pragmatic, very applied, able to even get leaders of companies to come into the classroom.
When we launched this SPRING-SMU program, we launched it at the SPRING session for SMEs, and the first person sitting on the panel with me was Charles Wong of Charles & Keith. And I turned to Charles because I need to market my program; I turned to Charles, Charles, have you been waiting for a program like this? Charles says, Not only have I've been waiting for a program like this, I will sign on immediately. And he took a cheque and he wrote the cheque in front of an audience of two hundred. And he says, I've wanted to go back to school because I never finished my degree, I never had a degree. I am from Presbyterian Boy's school. I started [working] when I came out from the army, working for my mother in a shoe store in Ang Mo Kio. I've never gone back to school. So, I built a business this size today, but I never had a proper schooling. So, I couldn't wait for a day when I could come back for this kind of SME leaders' program.
Of course, it was great endorsement, Pat. Immediately after the info session, we literally had lots of people coming up and telling SPRING, Do we qualify? And even without subsidy, people signed up. They said, I want to be going back to school with the likes of Charles Wong. And so that first batch, the cohort class unfortunately, Charles could only attend the first module, his business was just growing exponentially so he sent his next in line to attend the subsequent module but my first batch of SME leaders include people like C K Low [Low Cheong Kee], of Home-Fix. And Home-Fix has been such a supporter ever since, because he came to my sixth module professional education program. So that taught us the value of having long-term programs, because executive education is too fleeting. It's just for one week and once you have a deeper program, you build a relationship. And every year after that, Home-Fix send their next C-suite equivalent. They are a small outfit, but they will try and send one every year because they understood what it is like to be in class.
And I have this lady who runs Pinnacle Motors, Larry and Valerie Tan. They will come to class as a couple and Valerie will go back. Next month, she'll come back again as a couple. And each module that she takes, she writes a reflection on her website. She became my branding ambassador. She tell's the whole world, that just taking a module every month with SMU has increased her confidence. She tells me that her staff has noticed the transformation. So these were the real, hungry learners. They never had an opportunity to do a degree, and some of them may have a degree but never had an MBA, and they may have a degree in engineering but never had a management perspective, and they become the accidental entrepreneur and leader. So, to come back to class and get that sound bite of learning with other like-minded people, they love it.
So from then, we have done partnerships with BCA [Building and Construction Authority], so we have BCA-SMU Construction and Development program. So we have that. So we've started doing by sectors and that caused me to realise that we need to have specialisation. And so we also went into healthcare space and finance and banking space. So we are starting to grow our verticals, but from a management perspective, and speak the language of the SMEs' the healthcare, the finance and banking, the building and construction.