92% of Indian SMEs are focused on adopting ESG measures: DBS and Bloomberg Media Studios Survey

India.14 Nov 2022

Most of the SMEs (92%) in India accord their focus on ESG as a requirement to be a part of the Global Value Chain

56% of Indian SMEs are directing their focus towards employee well-being, and 40% stated that DE&I was a key focus

Environmental factors of pollution monitoring, climate change, carbon footprint, and depletion of natural resources were seen to be of high value

India, 14 Nov 2022 - An inaugural survey of 800+ SMEs across six markets [1] in Asia conducted by DBS and Bloomberg Media Studios in August found that SMEs recognise the value of transitioning to more sustainable business models. SMEs in India led their regional counterparts in Asia, with more than nine in ten rating ESG as a high priority for their business. The survey finds that SMEs in India contend that an ESG practice could increase their competitive edge, boost the company’s reputation and attract investors; a new business model influenced by customer demand and an ethical choice driven by social obligation. The survey has also identified critical challenges faced by Indian SMEs.

With ESG ratings coming into a sharp focus, companies must transition their business models to attract positive interest from investors and consumers. As a result, 92% of Indian SME business leaders in the survey stated ESG is a high priority for their business compared to 83% across Asia. Additionally, 92% of Indian SMEs accord that the influence of the global value chain, including vendors, suppliers and customers, is a powerful driver for ESG adoption compared to 80% in Asia. Moreover, 81% consider government schemes or financial institutions’ incentives as the second most crucial factor influencing ESG adoption

Niraj Mittal, Managing Director and Head – Institutional Banking Group, DBS Bank India, said “The survey results reflect what we have seen from our conversations with SMEs in India. There is a desire and intent from SMEs to transition their business models to meet the responsibility standards demanded by the market. At DBS, we stand ready to support SMEs across Asia in their decarbonisation efforts through financing and advisory services by helping them to plug into the right ecosystems and take advantage of the opportunities around sustainability.”

While ESG frameworks help businesses shape their sustainability decisions and transparently report progress, they also represent a commitment to making a company more socially responsible. As per the survey, 56% of Indian SMEs are directing their focus towards employee well-being, and 40% focus on DE&I. 92% of SMEs believe that environmental issues concerning pollution monitoring, climate change, carbon footprint, and depletion of natural resources are top priorities directly impacting their businesses. Waste management is also a key concern raised by 77% of SMEs in India compared to 62% overall in Asia.

ESG compliance is a discipline that requires detailed knowledge of regulatory aspects, compliance with laws, and business transparency. This survey revealed that 1 in 2 SMEs in India find it challenging to get engagement from government bodies and clarity on reporting standards.

While it is very positive to see that SMEs are looking at ESG Ratings with some criticality, the survey also revealed a few challenges for adoption. These include the cost of deployment of ESG initiatives coupled with ROI assessments of ESG investments (57%), lack of knowledge about how to measure the success of their ESG projects (87%) and how to implement ESG frameworks and solutions (81%). Failing to ensure compliance and policies (75%) and lack of funding (60%) are also areas of concern.

This announcement comes while COP 27, the United Nations' annual Climate Change conference, is underway. The 2022 conference is witnessing the participation of 196 nations of the world that are charting their road maps and contributions to solving global climate change challenges. 

In September this year, DBS laid the foundations of how it would strategically direct its financing towards lower-carbon activities. It was the first bank in southeast Asia to announce a landmark set of decarbonisation commitments, with interim targets set for 2030. The commitments represent one of the most comprehensive sets of decarbonisation targets in the global banking industry and reinforce DBS’ commitment to net zero financed emissions by 2050. 

[1] Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Mainland China, Taiwan



About DBS

DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets. 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 and the world’s “Most Innovative in Digital Banking” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 13 consecutive years from 2009 to 2021. DBS was also ranked No. 1 on Forbes' list of the World's Best Banks in India for two consecutive years. 

DBS Bank has been present in India for 27 years, opening its first office in Mumbai in 1994. DBS Bank India Limited is the first among the large foreign banks in India to start operating as a wholly-owned, locally incorporated subsidiary of a leading global bank. DBS provides an entire range of banking services for large, medium and small enterprises and individual consumers in India. In 2016, DBS launched India's first mobile-only bank – digibank, which now has ~1 million savings accounts. In November 2020, Lakshmi Vilas Bank was amalgamated with DBS Bank India Limited. The bank now has a network of nearly 600 branches across 19 states in India.

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 an SGD 50 million foundation to strengthen its corporate social responsibility efforts in Singapore and across Asia. In 2020, DBS introduced the "Towards Zero Food Waste" initiative as part of a global sustainability practice to encourage a shift in behaviours and mindsets to reduce food waste

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 our 30,000+ staff representing over 40 nationalities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com. 


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