Amid the economic uncertainty, 14 social enterprises (SEs) across the region have been able to support lives and livelihoods not only by keeping their employees on the payroll but also by creating new jobs. With the support of the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement (BTI) Grant, these SEs have since retained the jobs of 5,200 workers, as well as added 1,500 new jobs.
In May 2020, the DBS Foundation pledged SGD 500,000 in the inaugural DBS Foundation BTI Grant, which sought to deepen support and improve job security for DBS Foundation-supported SEs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The SEs that received funding were able to retain their workers, create new jobs or pivot and transform their business models to include new revenue streams.
Homage, a Singaporean-founded healthcare platform that pairs families with caregivers and offers telehealth for online medical consultations and screenings, was one of three SEs in Singapore to receive the DBS Foundation BTI Grant. Homage was selected by the Ministry of Health this year to perform Covid-19 swab testing and related test procedures. With DBS Foundation’s grant funding, Homage has since purchased over 2,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their frontline workers; doubled its Covid-19 taskforce to a 400-strong team; and is on track to complete swab tests for over 80,000 individuals by end-2020.
Gillian Tee, Co-founder and CEO of Homage, said, “When we were deployed to join the national fight against Covid-19, we felt this strong sense of urgency to act. But we also felt compelled to first make sure our staff were equipped with the right safety equipment and training. The additional funding from the DBS Foundation BTI Grant was thus timely – it enabled us to pivot quickly to tackle these new needs that arose in the face of Covid-19, such as building and training a taskforce to provide swab tests and other Covid-19 related health services, and purchasing PPE to keep them safe.”
Karen Ngui, Board Member of DBS Foundation, said, “We believe the future of business lies in being purpose-driven and social enterprises, with their dual bottom-line, are prime examples of this: they contribute to the growth of local economies, serve the underserved, and often employ those from marginalised groups. We’re glad the BTI Grant has generated positive impact even amid the pandemic – not only has it helped to support the lives and livelihoods of over 6,000 people, it has also impacted over a million beneficiaries and their families. Social enterprises need funding and skills-based mentorship to sustain this positive momentum, and DBS Foundation stands committed to providing such support throughout both good and bad times.”
Other support measures for SEs amid Covid-19
Beyond the DBS Foundation BTI Grant, the whole bank has come together to extend support for SEs under DBS Foundation’s care. This includes working with DBS SME Banking to provide cashflow support for SEs through measures such as working capital loans at preferential interest rates, as well as access to business and digital transformation courses. DBS Foundation also partnered DBS Private Bank to support, champion and spark opportunities for SEs through a series of virtual roundtable events featuring a select group of social enterprises and clients, curated based on clients’ interest.
Prasoon Kumar, Founder of Billion Bricks, a Singapore-based social enterprise that uses design and technology to reimagine housing for the homeless, shared, “We are very grateful to DBS for the partnerships and friendships forged through the years. I recall how an initial conversation with a private banking client sparked the idea to ship our custom-made, all-weather shelters (weatherHYDEs) to families affected by recurring earthquakes and landslides in the Philippines. We couldn’t have done this without the support of the client.”
DBS Foundation is also investing in skills-based mentorship to help SEs explore ways to pivot and diversify operations in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Urban farming social enterprise Edible Garden City recently underwent a customised leadership training programme conducted by DBS to help them build their HR and leadership capabilities.
DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize (SIP): Catalysing the growth of aspiring social entrepreneurs
Beyond the SEs it currently supports, DBS Foundation is looking to spur on more aspiring upstarts in the social innovation and entrepreneurship scene, and encourage them to scale their impact. This move to step up support comes at a critical juncture, particularly for early stage start-ups that are trying to fundraise during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Initiated by DBS Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU), the DBS Foundation SIP aims to identify sustainable, scalable and enterprising business solutions from across the world that address crucial social problems, and can help make cities of the future more inclusive, healthier and greener.
The winners stand to receive up to SGD 150,000 worth of support from DBS. This includes SGD 100,000 in prize money, support in capacity building, mentoring by DBS’ senior management, as well as branding and profiling opportunities.
The DBS Foundation SIP received strong global response when launched last year and garnered 788 applications from 650 universities across 63 countries.
The top four finalists of the DBS Foundation SIP will duke it out in a final competition round, which will commence virtually at 11.45am SGT on 9 October 2020. The finals will feature an esteemed judging panel comprising Tan Su Shan (Group Head of Institutional Banking, DBS), Nick Nash (Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Asia Partners) and Quek Siu Rui (Group CEO and Co-Founder, Carousell), and a keynote address by Piyush Gupta (Group CEO, DBS). Members of the public are invited to tune in to catch the livestream by registering at https://go.dbs.com/dbsf-sip-2020 and vote for their favourite contestant.
|Bluepha||China||Fighting plastic pollution with the power of microbes|
|Polybee||Singapore||Enhancing food security by automating pollination|
|Sampangan||Indonesia||Enriching food nutrition from landfill waste|
|Stratificare||Singapore||World’s first severe dengue prediction test|
Table 1: Top four finalists of the DBS Foundation SIP competition
The DBS Foundation BTI Grant is open to 60 DBS Foundation-supported SEs across Asia, and is in addition to the annual DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant which has already provided more than SGD 6 million in funding to over 100 SEs in the past five years. Grantees are selected based on multiple factors including their project’s business, social and environmental impact, and urgency of need amid Covid-19.
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.
Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney, “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker and “Best Bank in the World” by Global Finance. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 11 consecutive years from 2009 to 2019.
DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, and positively impacting communities through supporting social enterprises, as it banks the Asian way. It has also established a SGD 50 million foundation to strengthen its corporate social responsibility efforts in Singapore and across Asia.
With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. The bank acknowledges the passion, commitment and can-do spirit in all of our 29,000 staff, representing over 40 nationalities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.