DBS Bank announced that it will be donating SGD 10.5 million to help communities hard hit by Covid-19 across the region. Through the “DBS Stronger Together Fund”, the bank will provide about 4.5 million meals and care packs to affected individuals across its six key markets, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan. In India and Indonesia, where medical supplies are severely lacking, DBS will also fund the procurement of diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective gear to help in the fight against Covid-19.
In addition to its donations, across the region, DBS is also rallying employees behind the cause, with a pledge to match funds raised.
Said DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, “As we look across the region, Covid-19 is creating tremendous hardship for many, impacting both lives and livelihoods. In some of our markets, such as Indonesia and India, there is an acute shortage of medical supplies such as test kits, which is forcing healthcare workers to fight the Covid war blind. In other markets, including here in Singapore, the plight of the vulnerable has been exacerbated and some segments of the population are going hungry. The needs are truly enormous, and many in society have come forward to make a difference. As a key member of the community, we too want to stand in solidarity with our employees, clients and fellow Singaporeans to help those impacted, until the day we get through this crisis together.”
According to The Food Bank Singapore, the Covid-19 situation has resulted in an increase in demand for food support as more people are placed on no-pay leave or made redundant. On its part, The Food Bank Singapore, which distributes dry food rations or fresh produce to some 360 beneficiary organisations islandwide, has seen monetary and food donations fall sharply.
To address this, DBS is partnering The Food Bank Singapore and ItsRainingRaincoats in an SGD 2.5 million initiative to put food on the tables of the elderly, low-income and migrant workers. For a start, the bank will provide 200,000 meals to the elderly and low-income through The Food Bank Singapore’s “Feed the City – DBS Edition” programme. These meals will be procured from 15 F&B outlets, including Koufu Group, Chang Cheng Group, Wee Nam Kee and Gao Ji, which are SME clients of DBS. Hence, apart from providing food to those in need, DBS will also be giving much-needed support to the hard-hit F&B sector.
Through “Project Belanja”, another 100,000 meals will be provided to migrant workers supported by ItsRainingRaincoats.
A call by DBS to its employees to stand together in doing good will go out next week, with every employee meal pledge matched by the bank. DBS also hopes that the public will come alongside it: public donations towards meals for the elderly and lower-income can be made at https://www.giving.sg/campaigns/dbsfeedthecity, while donations towards meals for migrant workers can be made at https://www.giving.sg/campaigns/dbsprojectbelanja.
The bank will match dollar-for-dollar public funds raised for the two food programmes, up to a total of SGD 500,000. With the support of employees and fellow Singaporeans, DBS aims to provide a total of 700,000 meals to those in need.
Said Ms Nichol Ng, co-founder of The Food Bank Singapore “The Covid-19 situation has largely affected our ability to reach out to the beneficiaries as we are running low on food and funds. As their level of food supply has dropped, we have also noted more requests from beneficiaries as they are unable to put food on the table during these uncertain times. Through DBS’ support, we can continue to run our ‘Feed the City’ programme, and to meet the basic needs of those affected.”
Said Dipa Swaminathan, founder of ItsRainingRaincoats, “I am delighted and humbled by the magnificent support extended by DBS Bank to our migrant workers during the current Covid crisis. There are close to 750,000 migrant workers in Singapore and only a fraction of those are in the gazetted dorms. Many workers who are lodged elsewhere continue to need assistance with food during this time for various reasons: they are in quarantine and not able to access food, they are without funds to buy groceries or unable to cook due to shutting down of communal kitchens, etc. Our team of volunteers has been working around the clock to support any such worker who appeals to us in hunger through Project Belanja. We are hugely fortified in this battle now with the added support of DBS and confident that together we will help our workers and in doing so, help our entire community overcome this crisis.”
In February, amid the Covid-19 crisis, DBS worked with social enterprises it supports to deliver care packages and F&B treats to hospitals and communities across Singapore. That initiative benefitted over 32,000 healthcare professionals as well as the underprivileged.
DBS also has a longstanding history of supporting the elderly, low-income and migrant workers through its bank and community programmes. For example, its employee volunteer programme has partnered Lion’s Befrienders and Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre since 2015. In Singapore, DBS’ subsidiary POSB is the only bank that works with the Ministry of Manpower to provide banking services to migrant workers and foreign domestic workers.
The following is a list of the 15 F&B SMEs that DBS will procure meals from which will go towards the elderly and low-income, and which will be distributed by The Food Bank Singapore.
- Amra Catering Pte Ltd
- Andhra Heritage Pte Ltd
- Chang Cheng Group
- Gao Ji Pte Ltd
- Java Kitchen Pte Ltd
- Joe & Dough Pte Ltd
- JR Foods Pte Ltd
- Kim San Leng Group
- Kimly Group
- Koufu Group
- Qi Ji Group
- Sterling Trends & Concepts Pte Ltd
- Straits Chinese Nonya Restaurant Pte Ltd
- Tasty Loong Pte Ltd
- WNK F&B Management Pte Ltd
Here is a snapshot of what DBS is doing to help hard-hit communities in its other five key markets:
Hong Kong: DBS is helping the elderly and at-risk groups, including low-income families, better cope with the impact of the pandemic. With about 1.2 million people in Hong Kong aged 65 or above, of whom close to one-half (44%) live in poverty before policy intervention, DBS will work with local charities Senior Citizen Home Safety Association and Foodlink Foundation, and social enterprise Agent of Change, to provide more than 30,000 care and food packs to vulnerable seniors and low-income families. DBS’ resources will also enable the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association to increase its Care-on-Call services by more than 20,000 service sessions, to better address the emotional and physical well-being of the elderly, who may face greater isolation or mobility challenges amid the outbreak.
China: An early lockdown has been effective in arresting the spread of Covid-19. However, the move has still impacted senior citizens, especially those who live alone or who have financial difficulties. Low-income migrant workers, who normally travel from less developed provinces to larger cities to work have also been impacted by the temporary closure of factories and workplaces, and face concerns of job security and accessibility to daily necessities such as food. To help alleviate this, DBS is partnering NPI, Green Food Bank and others to launch a “Food for Care” programme, which will provide about 1.7 million meals to affected communities in the next 12 months. More than 50,000 low-income individuals will also receive support including personal hygiene kits and re-employment trainings.
India: Amid a rising number of cases, testing kits and protective gear for staff carrying out diagnostic tests are in short supply, as are critical facilities and equipment. DBS is partnering with UNICEF, United Way, Metropolis Labs and others to help scale up public health infrastructure, provide medical supplies and equipment, and sponsor free testing for the underprivileged. Additionally, there is a large population of daily wage earners who have been affected by the pandemic as their income has been greatly reduced with the temporary closure of factories and workplaces. DBS is working with organisations such as Pratham, Akshaya Patra and United Way to provide the equivalent of two million meals in the form of food supplies, as well as pre-packaged meals, to the affected communities.
Indonesia: The World Bank has estimated that the pandemic will throw millions of people into poverty. As of 7 April 2020, more than 1.2 million people have lost their jobs or income due to being placed on furlough. DBS Indonesia will partner with NGOs to provide about 275,000 meals to 11,500 daily wage workers in Jakarta, its surrounding areas, as well as West Java. The acute shortage of Covid-19 test kits has impacted the ability of healthcare workers to fight the pandemic. To address this, the bank will donate 100,000 units of a rapid test kit, polymerase chain reaction machines and other medical supplies to the Government of Indonesia.
Taiwan: Although the pandemic is comparatively well controlled, older people who live alone in rural areas are going hungry, being unable to go to community centres to have group meals provided by NPOs/NGOs. The food delivery system is also affected by the pandemic. In addition, many people have lost their jobs and their livelihoods have been impacted. DBS Taiwan plans to donate 45,000 food packs to those in need. The food pack contains rice, noodles, fish floss, corn crackers and hand sanitiser. All products are purchased from social enterprises.
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank’s “AA-” and “Aa1” credit ratings are among the highest in the world.