Sustainability  >  Championing Social Enterpreneurship

Championing Social Entrepreneurship

Nurturing social enterprises - self-sustaining businesses that creatively and effectively address social needs, is our way of addressing the myriad social challenges associated with a rapidly-growing Asia. In developing commercially sustainable solutions, social enterprises provide jobs, goods and services to the disadvantaged and marginalised. The support for social enterprises resonates with our heritage as a 'development bank', while leveraging on our expertise in serving the SME sector.

At DBS, we have worked hard at clarifying our purpose. Rooted in our DNA is a role beyond short-term profit maximisation. What makes us different is our fundamental belief that at the heart of it all, we must do real things for real people, while ensuring that DBS is a joy to deal with. Likewise, our desire to support those who believe in social reforms, and not just pure shareholder returns, took us down the social entrepreneurship path - our corporate social responsibility platform.” - Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS Bank

At the core of our corporate citizenry efforts is our support for social entrepreneurship across Asia. Here are a few examples that give a flavour of the range of assistance we offer to social enterprises.

Singapore and across the region

Cross–sector collaboration is crucial in helping social enterprises develop and grow. To this end, we invest in multiple programmes, especially those that bring people and corporations together to increase consciousness of the challenges faced by social enterprises and to provide support for their causes.

The DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge is an Asia-wide competition for social enterprises open to any member of the public. Launched by DBS Foundation and NUS Enterprise, the competition aims to identify and support social ventures that have the potential to generate scalable and sustainable social impact.

Besides programmes, we are the only bank to offer a Social Enterprise Package with virtually free transactional banking services, business loans at preferential rates, special grants and volunteer support from our skilled staff to help social enterprises.

AsiaForGood is the home of socially conscious living. We connect people to social enterprises, encourage socially conscious behaviour and empower people to make informed choices about the way they live and buy.

We firmly believe that the future of business is in being a force for good. That is why we support social enterprises that generate sustainable jobs and create innovative solutions to address social problems in the region. – Sim S Lim, Country Head, DBS Bank, Singapore.

Hong Kong

We were the first bank to provide a step-up fund to support the sustainable development of social enterprises in Hong Kong. In partnership with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), the HKD 2 million DBS Social Enterprise Advancement Grant was launched in 2013. After three consecutive years of grant support, we launched the ' DBS Social Innovators' programme along with HKCSS, to not only fund but provide support on a longer term to budding social entrepreneurs to turn their dreams to business reality and achieve greater social and business benefits for the community.

In Hong Kong, we have been actively supporting the development of social enterprises through an array of programmes over the past five years. We also integrate the support for social enterprises into the DBS culture. With our programmes, we help enhance the commercial viability of Social Enterprises while also maximising their social impact.” - Sebastian Paredes, Chief Executive Officer of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited


Our partnership with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) over the years has helped create winning social enterprises that address key social needs. These include organic farms, waste- management solutions for cities and higher education for marginalised students amongst many other. Inspiring video stories of these social enterprises can be viewed here.

DBS Banks partnership with TISS is a unique model and catalyst in creating high-impact social change in India. Together we not only support young and committed graduate social entrepreneurs, but also engage in knowledge creation and dissemination to speed up the process of innovation in social problem-solving. This is a revolution in business-society collaboration. - Satyajit Majumdar, Professor and Chairperson, Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (India)

Apart from TISS, we also run programmes with UnLtd India and Village Capital supporting promising social enterprises in India.


In Taiwan we launched the Taipei SE DBS Hub, the first Social Enterprise Hub in the country. Apart from funding the development of the centre, DBS assisted the Taipei City Government to create an environment that fits the needs of SE start-ups. The hub now hosts events, and has meeting rooms and co-working spaces for social entrepreneurs. It is also the very first venue that advocates employment of the disabled.

Through our partnership with SE Insights, the DBS iLab Try–it and Do–it programmes encourage ideation and innovation among potential SEs. Apart from the required training, facilities and funding, the social enterprises also receive help on the ground from our enthusiastic staff volunteers. DBS Taiwan also organises Social Enterprises Fairs to promote public education about social enterprises.

We hope the operation model of Taipei SE DBS Hub will become a successful example, which can be duplicated and therefore benefit outside Taipei, even Taiwan. - Jerry Chen, Country Head of DBS Taiwan


DBS Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camps in Indonesia assist seed and venture stage social enterprises with their business challenges and access to funding. Workshops are conducted to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge, and engage a broader network of social entrepreneurship players in Indonesia, including investors and enablers to nurture these enterprises and strengthen the ecosystem.

We also work closely with Greeneration Indonesia, particularly on its waste management practice where we educate up to 1,400 students, teachers and school staffs in Bekasi, East Java about responsible waste management and together set up the waste management system in schools. A mini competition is introduced to familiarise the students and teachers with social entrepreneurship concepts and compete for the capital to start their own enterprise.


The DBS Seed Fund for Social Enterprises, in partnership with the YouChange Foundation, identifies promising social enterprises and provides them with grants to grow their businesses. This year, the programme expanded its reach, bolstered by an online campaign promoting knowledge of the social enterprise sector.

Our staff regularly serve as mentors and volunteers and work with YouChange to launch online seminars and mini-lectures, in areas such as strategic planning, human resource management and legal management - thereby strengthening the business capabilities of social enterprises.

It was an honour to receive the award but mostly the opportunity allowed me to put into practice what I learnt about social enterprise management and to deliver social impact through my business model based on sustainability.” - Zheng Zi Geng, a DBS Social Enterprise Seed Fund Awardee who runs an after-school care center for migrant students.