With our roots as the Development Bank of Singapore, we believe that banking has a far-reaching purpose and have embedded a strong sense of social consciousness in the way we do business. It is also the reason we dedicate resources to community outreach and ensure that we do our part for the environment.

Doing good in the normal course of business

In Singapore, DBS/POSB banks more than 4.5 million customers. Within the POSB franchise, we have a large segment of customers to whom we provide subsidised banking services. Fees are waived for many, including the young, silver-haired and national servicemen. We also make it easy for foreign workers to open a banking account and to remit funds home in a cost effective manner. This is because as custodians of Singapore's most loved bank, we are committed to being inclusive and providing banking services to everyone in the community. We see this as part of our social mission as the "People's Bank".

The low-cost banking we do extends beyond individuals to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). DBS' banking package for startups contains a slew of fee waivers and preferential charges. SMEs are the backbone of the economy, and as Singapore evolves in the next 50 years, private enterprises need to drive the nation's growth. As a large SME player, we are committed to nurturing the start-up and SME sector. This includes incubating start-ups, giving them opportunities to partner with us through hackathons, and ensuring that promising firms have access to financing such as venture debt.

To make banking convenient and accessible, we have set up branches within community centres, and introduced all-day banking to cater to working people. We also recently launched an SMS queue system – known as the SMS 'Q' – at our branches. The service allows customers to request for a queue number via SMS prior to visiting DBS/POSB branches. By not having to wait in line, customers can save time. We will also be replacing traditional standing queues with seats so customers may await their turn in comfort.

Social enterprises

Social enterprises (SEs) play an important role in fostering inclusive economic and social development. As social support needs increase with rising income inequality, SEs are emerging as an important avenue for reinforcing social safety nets across the region. Our roots as a development bank and our expertise in supporting SMEs put us in a strong position to help SEs develop themselves into self-sustaining businesses.

Cultivating the SE Landscape for Growth

While social entrepreneurship has been around for decades, there is still limited understanding of these businesses. To address this, DBS is focused on creating a thriving SE ecosystem via advocacy and awareness building. We work in partnership with like-minded organisations, as well as the public and social sectors, to promote the development of social entrepreneurship. In 2014, we supported close to 20 prominent SE-related events covering almost 10,000 participants in the region.

We worked with National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise to launch the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia. The Challenge seeks to identify new ventures that have the potential to generate scalable and sustainable social impact in Asia. Response to the inaugural challenge was very encouraging with more than 400 entries from 1,200 youth entrepreneurs across 20 countries. The winning teams received seed funding for their social ventures.

In addition, we have created Asia’s first online platform for showcasing social enterprises. In 2015, this channel will give SEs more visibility across Asia.

Financing SEs

SEs need financial support especially during their early stages of growth. However, financing is often lacking when they are just starting up. DBS supports SEs by funding them so that they can become viable businesses.

In 2014, we granted funds to 46 SEs across our key markets of Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India and Taiwan. We worked with partners such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India, YouChange Foundation in China and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in Hong Kong to identify promising SEs worthy of support.

SEs which have benefitted include India's Krishi Naturals, which has empowered 1,000 marginalised farmers through organic farming and market linkages, and Bharat Calling, which supports 20,000 marginalised students each year across 150 schools. Five years ago, we launched the DBS Social Enterprise Package and it remains the only banking package tailored to the needs of SEs in all our focus markets.

Earlier this year, we announced the formation of DBS Foundation, the only corporate foundation in Asia dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship. With a SGD 50 million fund, DBS Foundation will work further with SEs to support their growth. Activities will range from basic training and workshops to intensive incubation and skilled mentoring, project grant support and knowledge sharing.

Providing Social and Intellectual Capital

A large part of building SEs' potential includes supporting them in non-financial areas such as strategy development, financial planning, marketing and product refinement. Together with financial capital, this social and intellectual capital can help SEs scale up and improve their chances of attracting larger size investments and support from institutional investors. Employees with relevant skills are paired with SEs, especially early-stage ones, to support them in areas that funding alone cannot address. These DBS staff volunteers give their time to share relevant knowledge with SEs, resulting in a transfer of expertise and skills for social good. In 2014, over 160 of our employees devoted more than 2,800 hours to serve as skilled volunteers to SEs.

Connecting with the community

Giving Back through Active Volunteerism

DBS Hong Kong staff contributed towards community projects
About 650 DBS Hong Kong staff contributed towards community projects that benefitted more than 1,400 elderly persons and underprivileged children.

DBS' volunteerism movement, known as "People of Purpose", rallies colleagues to make a difference in the communities that the bank operates in. In 2014, approximately 3,500 of our employees contributed 16,000 hours of volunteer work.

In Singapore, close to 1,000 DBS/POSB employees touched the lives of 500 senior citizens, including those living alone. Home visitations were conducted to give household necessities to seniors. Staff also hosted the elderly to an outing to an aquarium.

In Hong Kong, our employees continued to give their time to underprivileged children and the elderly. Teams of volunteers #were engaged in sustainable and recurring community projects, including elderly visitations and outings with children from low income families. Some went the extra mile to become mentors to students, while others brought their own families to join in. In recognition of their passion and generosity, five of our most committed volunteers in Hong Kong were recognised with long service awards by the Hong Kong Government's Social Welfare Department.

The same spirit to give back was evident in China, where volunteers from six branches contributed nearly 1,000 hours in community projects that benefitted 800 people. In Taiwan, in collaboration with six social enterprises, our employees' volunteerism efforts benefitted 2,200 people, including the homeless and teenagers with disabilities. Deep into the mountainous east of Taiwan, volunteers built book houses for disadvantaged children.

DBS Indonesia staff volunteers rebuilt a pre-school in the suburbs of Jakarta and mentored high-school students through social enterprise workshops. In India, 500 staff came together to collect books, clothes, medicine and funds for various charities. Volunteers also visited a home for the elderly and spruced up the garden of an orphanage, touching lives across all age groups.

DBS Hong Kong staff contributed towards community projects
About 650 DBS Hong Kong staff contributed towards community projects that benefitted more than 1,400 elderly persons and underprivileged children.

Enriching Lives through Community Initiatives

DBS Movies by the Bay
DBS’ Movies by the Bay screened blockbusters monthly, and attracted thousands of people to the Bay last year.

In Singapore, we sponsored the DBS Marina Regatta, Singapore’s largest water sports festival, which attracted close to 2,500 dragon boaters from 140 international and local teams. Our monthly outdoors movies event "DBS Movies by the Bay" screened 18 blockbusters and attracted 800 visitors every month to the bay. In 2014, DBS also donated SGD 25 million to the National Gallery Singapore to support and celebrate the story of Singapore told through creative visual arts. The gift is the largest single cash donation by a corporate body to an arts institution. Finally, we presented the Singapore Slammers, an elite team of eight tennis greats including Serena Williams and Andre Agassi, at the inaugural International Premier Tennis League that featured over 20 world-class tennis players.

DBS Movies by the Bay
DBS’ Movies by the Bay screened blockbusters monthly, and attracted thousands of people to the Bay last year.


We are committed to doing our part for the environment. One of the ways in which we do so is by ensuring that our offices have sustainable designs and practices. As part of our environmental responsibility efforts, we strengthened the level of Green Mark certifications for all our office buildings in Singapore.

In 2014, DBS Hong Kong took steps to ensure that our staff work in a conducive environment by obtaining certification in indoor air quality for four of our office buildings. DBS Hong Kong was also awarded certification for the disposal of waste for three office buildings. In India, we were recognised for our waste paper and toner recycling. DBS India works with an SE to exchange the waste paper generated for usable notebooks.

Effective energy saving initiatives are in place to ensure optimal use of energy. Timers are installed at lighted signages to cut back on the use of electricity. In addition, we have motion sensors for stairwell lighting and the central air-conditioning is tuned to +/-24 degrees.

We encourage our employees to do their part to be green. We raised the awareness of our staff with 'green' tips and held forums to share how best to dispose of waste and optimise recycling efforts. We continued to observe "Earth Hour", the global awareness programme on climate change, and across Asia, turned off lighting in the office as well as bank signages to indicate our support.

Earlier this year, we announced the formation of  DBS Foundation , the only corporate foundation in Asia dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship.

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