We recognise that our role in society goes beyond corporate citizenship and philanthropy. We believe we have a much broader social purpose – to create long-term economic value through the provision of responsible banking products and services to enhance the communities we serve.
We see society as an essential stakeholder. We are prepared to invest in programmes that address the social needs of the communities we operate in.
POSB – the “People’s Bank” – has served multiple generations of Singaporeans since it was established in 1877. At POSB, we are “Neighbours first, Bankers second”, and serve more than four million customers across all strata of society. As custodians of Singapore’s oldest and most loved bank, we are committed to being inclusive and providing banking services to everyone in the community. We are also responsible for ensuring that our products are suitable for customers’ needs and risk appetites.
POSB is involved in a range of community initiatives. Since 2009, it has partnered the Council for Third Age, a nongovernmental organisation, to promote active ageing in Singapore. One of the partnership’s initiatives is the POSB Active Neighbours programme, in which senior Singaporeans assist other senior citizens with banking transactions at our branches, and guide them on the use of self-service banking terminals. In 2011, POSB launched a micro-business loan scheme in Singapore in collaboration with Singapore’s Tote Board and SE Hub, a social enterprise, to help customers start up or expand their micro-businesses. This complements the public sector’s efforts to help Singaporeans become more self-reliant.
In partnership with People's Association, we rallied 200 organisations and 8,000 participants of all ages to run for a cause at the POSB PAssion Run for Kids in 2012 as part of an annual series. Together, we raised SGD 1 million for the POSB PAssion Kids Fund to benefit underprivileged children.
Championing social entrepreneurship across the region is the centrepiece of our social responsibility efforts. Social enterprises strive to resolve social issues by coming up with financially-viable solutions, which enable them to sustain their efforts over the long term. Such an approach resonates with our roots as a development bank. Our commitment to the sector is one way that we contribute to society and are a force for good in the communities in which we operate.
To ensure that we make a genuine difference, we have adopted a comprehensive, three-pronged framework.
First, we strive for the holistic development of the sector. Social enterprises face numerous challenges, including a lack of commercial expertise in some cases. We seek to build an ecosystem to support them by partnering like-minded academic institutions, government bodies, industry associations, sector developers and the media in order to develop awareness and knowledge.
We work with respected academic institutions across our key markets, including Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India, Fudan University in China, Fujen Catholic University in Taiwan and Atma Jaya Catholic University in Indonesia. We also partner renowned social sector developers such as Non-Profit Incubator in China, Social Innovation Park and Social Enterprise Association in Singapore, Hong Kong Council of Social Service, and AKSI UI in Indonesia.
Together, we hosted seminars for social entrepreneurs to use their expertise and experience to promote public understanding of social enterprises and their challenges. The seminars also provided a forum for social enterprises to share knowledge and skills.
Second, we support social enterprises by offering grants and loans, as well as by sharing our commercial expertise with them. We encourage our employees to volunteer with social enterprises to assist them in business planning and strategy development.
We have set aside SGD 1 million as project grants for social enterprises with the potential for high growth and social impact.
In Singapore, China and Taiwan, the grants are being used for projects that provide training or employment to disadvantaged groups such as migrant women, the blind, hearing-impaired or mentally handicapped.
In Indonesia, we are working with AKSI UI to provide comprehensive training and coaching to social enterprises to improve their commercial viability and ability to make a social impact. These enterprises have beneficiaries ranging from released convicts to the visuallyhandicapped and impoverished children.
In India, the DBS-TISS Social Entrepreneurship Programme, launched in August 2012, promotes the cause of social entrepreneurship through conferences, research, workshops and an incubation programme that provides seed funding. Eight social enterprise start-ups are currently benefiting from the incubation programme and we expect to support another cohort of enterprises in 2013.
|Social Enterprises supported through funding and coaching
Third, we are integrating social enterprises into our day-to-day business activities. In July 2012, we enhanced a banking package first introduced in 2008 specially tailored for social enterprises. The revised package, which remains the only one of its kind in Singapore, enables social enterprises to open deposit accounts with no minimum balance and take loans at preferential interest rates. The package is intended to help social enterprises with their cash flow. A similar package was launched for the first time in China in November 2012, and we plan to launch local variants in other markets in the coming months. Over the past year, we have consciously used the services of social enterprises where possible.
We have also set aside a dedicated area called the Social Enterprise Exchange at our headquarters to provide a platform for social enterprises to market their goods and services, and share their social causes with our employees in Singapore.
For our efforts in promoting the social enterprise sector, we were awarded the Corporate Award (Gold) by the Social Enterprise Association of Singapore in 2012.
We believe like-minded individuals and organisations from the public and private sectors must come together to develop and promote the social enterprise sector. Only then can we make a real difference towards tackling the pressing social challenges of today and build a better future for Asia.
In addition to championing social entrepreneurship, we have also led other community engagement activities. In 2012, DBS sponsored the inaugural DBS Marina Regatta, Singapore’s first international dragon boat competition since 2000. The regatta saw close to 100 international and local dragon boat teams paddling in the beautiful waters of Marina Bay. It was open to the public and held in conjunction with DBS family day, and successfully brought together the community. In addition, DBS also helps to bring the Marina Bay area to life by supporting the sailing community.
|Waste recycled (tonnes)
We are committed to conserving energy and resources throughout our operations and supply chain.
Our sustainability programme reduces the environmental impact of our operations through initiatives that include energy conservation, waste management and recycling.
In 2012, we were also able to reduce our energy bills and minimise electricity usage through initiatives such as:
- Zoning of air-conditioning and lighting systems for areas with different usage or occupancy
- Optimising air conditioning usage by switching it on at specific times
- Using energy-efficient light fittings at branches and offices
We recycled 307 tonnes of paper, eight tonnes of aluminium and nine tonnes of plastics in 2012.
In a concerted drive to reduce printing and go paperless, we converted over 16 million physical documents to electronic format during the move to our new headquarters. Starting with Singapore, we have also encouraged our customers to adopt electronic statements. As of December 2012, we had over 1.2 million accounts on our eStatement programme, and we expect more to come on board in the coming year.
Given our sizable shareholder base, we distribute our annual reports on compact discs and have developed an online version that can be downloaded from our website or QR codes. Printed copies are available on request.