DBS Foundation, the first foundation in Singapore dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, has announced that it has awarded SGD 1.1 million to 14 social enterprises (SEs) in Asia, as part of its 2017 Social Enterprise Grant Programme.
DBS Foundation has awarded grants ranging between SGD 50,000 and SGD 160,000 to SEs from DBS’ key markets of Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan, to encourage them to deploy social innovations in areas such as employment generation for the marginalised, environment protection and waste management solutions, as well as food sustainability.
The grants will enable SEs to bring their prototypes to market, improve existing processes, or scale up their existing business for greater social impact. This year, the DBS Foundation received applications from a wide range of SEs from across Asia for its annual Grant Programme. The selection criteria includes identifying the social need addressed, business innovation and business model sustainability. SEs must also demonstrate a path to achieving key business and social impact milestones.
This year’s Singapore grant awardees (please see appendix for full list of awardees) include:
- CaptionCube which hires persons with disabilities (PwDs) as transcribers for video captioning services, creating opportunities for inclusive employment. The grant will be used to accelerate tech development to improve the UX and capacity of their platform.
- UglyGood aims to reduce organic by-product wastage generated by the F&B industry through upcycling and building innovative business models around wastage. The grant will be used to accelerate their product research and step up their marketing.
- Edible Garden City which helps to grow food and reduce food waste by incorporating natural systems with technology such as hydroponics, aquaponics and insect farming. The grant will be used for development and scaling up of microgreens production and for development of closed loop agriculture systems.
Said Karen Ngui, Board Member of DBS Foundation and DBS’ Head of Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, “As a purpose-driven organisation, we believe that it is crucial for us to create impact beyond banking. SEs offer innovative and sustainable solutions to address social challenges in a rapidly growing Asia. Our 14 DBS Foundation 2017 SE grant awardees come from a diverse range of areas, have promising business models, and are poised to deliver significant social impact. Beyond grant funding, we look forward to working with them to help them do well and do good, whether through mentorship, knowledge sharing with other experienced SEs, or by providing DBS procurement opportunities.”
DBS Foundation’s 2016 SE grant awardee, WateROAM develops highly portable water filtration systems for communities in rural regions and disaster-hit sites. With funding support from DBS, WateROAM has deployed its patented systems through partner NGOs, to more than 25,000 people in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vanuatu. The social enterprise is now starting mass-scale manufacturing processes.
Said David Pong (aged 29), CEO of WateROAM, “We have greatly benefitted from being involved with the ecosystem of SEs that is supported by the DBS Foundation. At each gathering organised by the foundation, we exchange many precious lessons learnt from our different social enterprise journeys, and never fail to walk away with a greater sense of encouragement for the journey ahead. We are also highly grateful for the mentors, assigned to us from the DBS Foundation, who go the extra mile to guide us in overcoming our challenges through the sharing of their vast experiences. Being a DBS Foundation grant awardee has truly allowed us to achieve our vision of ending global thirst with much more effectiveness.”
While the bank has been supporting SEs for many years, it stepped up its commitment to the growth of social entrepreneurship with the establishment of the SGD 50 million DBS Foundation in 2014, to mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence. To date, DBS has reached out to more than 28,000 SEs and supported over 260 SEs with more than SGD 3.5 million in grant funding.
The DBS Foundation supports social entrepreneurs across Asia in three broad areas. This entails:
- Building awareness for SEs through initiatives such as the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia, bootcamps, workshops and learning forums
- Supporting selected social enterprises through funding, mentorship and skills-based volunteerism
- Embedding social enterprises into DBS’ culture and operations; through customised banking products, procuring from SEs, providing physical co-working spaces and creating an online SE Community etc.
The DBS Foundation works in partnership with like-minded organisations, public and social sectors, to promote the development of social entrepreneurship. Calls for 2018 grant applications will go out in March this year. To find out more about the DBS Foundation SE Grant Programme, visit go.dbs.com/Grants.