Portraits of Purpose

Nothing shines brighter in the midst of adversity than light born of hope, courage, perseverance and generosity. These beacons guide us forward, as we put one foot in front of another, toward a better future. Here we share these portraits of purpose – of people whose light shine even brighter in the face of challenges.

    Read their stories
    Standing tall, reaching out to help others and coming together to emerge stronger. These are their stories.
    Seizing the opportunities amid challenges
    Ms Wong Minying is focused on digitalising her family business to better meet head-on the difficulties posed by the pandemic.
    "I learnt that Singaporeans are very kind"
    Rahim Bin Abu Bakar’s job as a limousine driver ferrying guests from the airport ceased due to Covid-19. But he now has new purpose.
    Out of job, but full of hope
    After working in a hotel for nearly a decade, Mdm Josephine Low, 75, lost her job when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Still, she remains optimistic.
    Finding, and offering, hope during a crisis
    Business at Mr Goh Heng Hock’s noodles stall was badly hit by the pandemic, but this didn’t stop him from helping those in need.
    “No time to waste”
    Pandemic or not, Mr Wong Hing Kong has his gaze fixed firmly on the future.
    One less thing to worry about
    Many migrant workers come to Singapore to earn a living, so they can support their families back home. Here’s how DBS enabled them to continue doing so, while under quarantine.
    Empowering and illuminating the lives of those in need
    A social enterprise’s solar-powered devices bring more than just illumination to families in rural India.
    In the nick of time
    During a pandemic, 5 days could make a difference between life or death. Here’s how medical equipment supplier HZHM Group and DBS rushed to save lives.
    The race to protect lives
    In the battle against a new unseen enemy, textile company Yibin Grace wasted no time in manufacturing the scarce essential good – masks.
    Warmth in the middle of a chilly winter’s night
    Motivated by nothing but a sense of purpose, Christine and her team of change agents challenged their traditional way of work to deliver much-needed help.
    A secret worth keeping
    A filial daughter behind bars sends care to her elderly parents with a little covert help.
    A “shopping” adventure to remember
    United by the single-minded focus to continue serving our customers, individuals across markets went the extra mile – literally – to procure masks for peers in Hong Kong.
    Help that came like “a bout of timely rain”
    When farmers in Taiwan were left with truckloads of produce that could not be sold, BuyNearby and Goodwill Foods intervened.
    Food for thought
    Social enterprises help farmers and food processing companies in Taiwan survive another day – while saving food and feeding the needy.
    Forging a new path forward
    Sent home to work during the pandemic, PT Trimegah Asset Management had to quickly implement new ways of working.
    Operation Relief for 30,000 villagers in dire straits
    When lockdown in India was implemented, these villagers found themselves cut off from their supply chain and stocks of food, and daily essentials dwindled. Their plight did not go unnoticed.
    No more waiting! How DBS Bank helped save 4.5 million hours for thousands of truck owners and drivers in India
    DBS Bank developed a customised API-driven digital solution for real-time money transfers to truck owners and drivers.
    She started a coffee business to help the vulnerable and make the world a better place
    Today, Bettr Barista not only sells coffee, but also provides training opportunities for the marginalised.
    Digitalise – Revolutionise
    Digital solutions have proven essential to banking continuity during the pandemic. They will also help drive the recovery.
    He left his accounting job to pair unsold food with buyers and reduce food wastage in Singapore
    Mr Lau Jia Cai was appalled at the amount of produce being wasted in Singapore and left his accounting job to do something about it.
    S'pore-based social enterprise delivers affordable healthcare to the poor
    Mr Edward Booty says it is a social and moral injustice that 52% of people on the planet do not have access to it.
    Onwards and upwards
    Covid-19 has changed the way small and medium businesses succeed through sustainability.
    He left a life of crime to set up a social enterprise
    Anil David, who had been in prison three times, wanted to do something meaningful and set up a contact centre hiring ex-offenders.
    Healthcare start-up owner builds small Covid army to battle pandemic in Singapore
    Gillian Tee's childhood experience led her to launch a home and nursing care start-up, which has played a critical role in the face of Covid-19.
    The next game plan
    As businesses address the challenges faced by diverse communities during the pandemic, it is up to banking institutions to help them respond in a timely fashion.
    He wants to make Singapore a more sustainable and liveable city
    Mr Bjorn Low, founder of urban farming social enterprise Edible Garden City, finds his purpose in serving others.
    Waste not, want yes
    Social enterprises – empowered by financial institutions – are pushing innovative solutions for zero food waste.
    Green healthy instant noodles
    Starting a food revolution by making instant noodles that are good for health and the planet.
    Rebuilding through a crisis
    The pandemic has given banking institutions a higher purpose: bolstering businesses that support communities.
    He gave up a career in banking to do good and sell snacks
    Walter Oh gave up a career in banking to kick off a subscription service that supplies healthy snacks.
    Job portal for 'green-collar' workers
    "We realised that we could help the environment as well as allow people to gain meaningful employment in this up-and-coming industry."
    Single-use packaging gets a new lease of life
    With the surge in e-commerce brought on by the pandemic, Package Pals helps reduce waste by collecting single-use packaging and distributing them to retailers for reuse.
    Animals find fur-ever homes with online adoption drives
    From live streaming to online talk shows, the pandemic has forced animal welfare activists to get wildly creative.
    Recruiter helps job-seekers get one foot in the door
    Ms Ryshire Wu, 25, applied for more than 50 jobs and faced countless rejections before she was finally hired. She now wants to use her experience to help others.
    Helping small businesses stay competitive
    "The severe acute respiratory syndrome was bad, but Covid-19 is definitely worse. No one in the family business has gone through something like that."
    Guiding light in the travel industry
    Domestic tourism, virtual tours help guides sustain their livelihoods as borders remain closed.
    Father’s death spurred her to lend a listening ear
    "A lot of my grief was about not being able to help my father when he had end-stage lung cancer, but I hope that in some little way, I can help these people in their lives."
    Mental health advocates bridge support gaps online
    Psychological effects such as social isolation, anxiety, boredom and stress emerge as Covid-19 takes its toll on mental health.
    Delivering food to low-income families
    “I wanted to let them know that bad days don't last forever.”
    Upcycling to help the less privileged
    "It has been quite encouraging to see our little project help different groups of people and create a self-sustaining cycle."
    Shining a light for youth in the dark
    Organisations step up programmes to help youth at risk, students with financial difficulties, during the pandemic.
    Activity kits bring joy to kids in need
    They had to stop visiting the children due to Covid-19 restrictions, so volunteer group Be Kind SG came up with new ways to keep them engaged.
    Gift of language for foreign mums
    "It gives them a passport to something more in their lives. They can think a little further, beyond just being a wife and mother, beyond staying home and looking after their kids.”
    Giving women a leg up to run home food businesses
    "I believe it is only just and equitable to use our privilege to help others with less."
    Feeding vulnerable groups through meal claim and donation platform
    Taxi drivers, foreigners and students stranded in Singapore because of border closures are among those the platform is helping.
    Youth code app to assist seniors with groceries
    The goal is to help the elderly get groceries without having to compete for slots on delivery platforms or risk exposure to the coronavirus at supermarkets.
    Creatives pitch in to help small businesses
    How some are harnessing Singapore's foodie culture as a force for good.
    Caring for the community
    In trying times, a community comes together to uplift those in need.
      Create a new portrait with us Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa #PortraitsofPurpose
      Share a portrait with us Click on each photo to read more portraits of those who inspire us. Share your own photo story on a public Instagram account, hashtag #PortraitsofPurpose, tag @dbsbank.
      Share a portrait with us
      Click on each photo to read more portraits of those who inspire us. Share your own photo story on a public Instagram account, hashtag #PortraitsofPurpose, tag @dbsbank.
      • With Covid-19 exacerbating food insecurity, DBS and The Food Bank Singapore are launching a virtual food banking app to enhance support for individuals and families affected by the crisis.

      • “DBS loan support enables us to look to the future with confidence. To focus on where we will go versus where we have been. To reinvest in our people and look to grow. To evolve and adapt to new norms - investing in new growth areas namely therapeutic horticulture, e-education and e-commerce “ – Mr Samuell Ang (left), chief executive officer, Edible Garden City

      • Meet Satish Senthil Kumar (left) our Assistant Workplace Manager, and Thiru Ramamorthy (right), Cleaning Team Lead from Chye Thiam Maintenance. They are among our deeply-valued essential frontline staff who keep our office environment clean and safe during this Covid-19 outbreak. Satish ensures that essential facilities are running smoothly on a daily basis. Thiru usually supervises the cleaning operations, but now volunteers to take on more cleaning work so older workers are at less risk of being exposed to the virus!

      • "Everything I do is with passion. Without passion, I don’t think I will serve the community today. My passion is with the elderly. When I do community care, I can talk to the elderly. I really feel fulfilled and contented and every day I go home with a smile on my face." Ms Lily Teh, Homage Care Specialist who helps with Covid-19 swab tests.

      • “As a social enterprise, not many lenders make the effort to understand what we do, our business model, and the impact we have on the community. At the onset of the virus outbreak, the first thing on our minds was to preserve jobs and make sure that our employees’ livelihoods would not be affected in a big way. ... The loan from DBS was very timely in helping us ensure we had the cash flow needed to continue our operations, retain and even upskill all our staff.” – Mr Walter Oh, co-Founder of Boxgreen

      • “As a Safe Management Officer at DBS, my duty of care is for the safety and health of the employees, which is of utmost importance to DBS and our community. Less exposure, more safety ... and while I keep the workplace safe, I also ensure I protect myself so that I can keep my home safe for my family. I hope others will share the same view and do their part to keep themselves and others safe.” – Mr Michael Lim/p>

      • “I am in the process of developing an app. We are also going to go on Facebook Live, so that we can interact more with our customers. This is what it means to do business. No matter the situation, we remain decisive, and we move accordingly.” - Mr Wong Hing Kong, director, Unidbox Hardware

      • “I learnt that Singaporeans are very kind. … While I was delivering the food, I saw volunteers from many different organisations going around the block as well. It really surprised me. I've never seen this side to Singapore, and I'm proud to be one of them as well.” - Rahim Bin Abu Bakar, who helps deliver meals to those in need

      • “If anyone of us needs help, all we need to do is ask, and help will be there. Like how I am getting food delivered to my door now. I am grateful to DBS and The Food Bank Singapore for helping me through this time.” – Madam Josephine Low, beneficiary of The Singapore Food Bank’s “Feed the City – DBS Edition” programme

      • “When you’ve been hungry before, you will know how it feels. This is just a bit that I can do to help fellow Singaporeans,” Mr Goh Heng Hock, who runs Million Fishball Noodle at a Kim San Leng coffeeshop, helps provide meals for those in need as part of The Singapore Food Bank’s “Feed the City – DBS Edition” programme

      • “The food provided is very nice. It tastes homemade. We also get fruits, juice and sometimes milk. We are in a very critical situation (because of Covid-19). We can’t work, so we cannot expect to get a full salary. The sponsored meals are very helpful – we don’t have to worry and can remit more of our salary to support family back home.” – Mr Kumarasamy Velumani, 34, a migrant worker who gets his meals from ItsRainingRainCoats’ Project Belanja – DBS Edition programme

      • "During the circuit breaker period, many seniors were looking for someone to talk to. Most of these seniors are living alone or with their partners in rental flats. The LB Virtual Befriending@SAC – Singapore’s largest-ever virtual befriending volunteer initiative by DBS and Lions Befrienders – is a good platform to help them out of social isolation and prevent their health or mental state from deteriorating." – Mr Andy Shee, senior centre manager, Lion’s Befrienders

        Your #PortraitsofPurpose
        Beautiful stories have emerged on Instagram of your own #PortraitsofPurpose.
        Here are the winning portraits from Instagram as voted by you.

        This is the story of a man and his wife who came to Singapore in 1969. Packirisamy, 77, and Lalithambal, 69, started a restaurant with the sole intention of making sure everyone leaves well fed. The meals were (and still are) offered at very affordable rates and soon enough, the restaurant became a place to frequent.

        Everything Packirisamy cooks in the kitchen has a hint of love. Nothing compromises the immutable standards of his dishes. For our migrant workers in Singapore, the food brings them a little closer to feeling at home.

        Lalithambal, lovingly addressed as “Amma” by customers, has been the woman behind Packirisamy’s success as his better half. She plugs any gap in the restaurant’s operations by helping out in the restaurant to the best of her capacity. One would most often spot her packing food for takeaway orders or behind the cash counter.

        They have crazy working hours but have not complained one bit all these years.

        Packirisamy rides back home on his trusty bicycle, which has aged with him, while Lalithambal dodders back home after a tiring day at the restaurant.

        Their work ethics and altruism are aspects I deeply admire. I hope to possess at least a sliver of their humility, wherever life takes me.

        They are my grandparents. This fact makes me the happiest not just because of all the things that they’ve done for my family and I, but also for everyone else through their food.

        Meet Packirisamy and Lalithambal, the founders of Gandhi Restaurant at Chander Road.



        Uncle Shi, aka Uncle in Pajamas, is keeping the butter coffee and other Singapore traditions alive despite the challenging time. 83-year old uncle sat in a class for certification when the shop had to close for few weeks during the circuit breaker implementation. Most of us might choose to complain about inconvenience, lost of business opportunities and demand for government helps - while this uncle chose to be out of his comfort zone in order to continue reminding us of Singapore values when we start picking up the new normal.

        Safe entry barcode is there, remember to scan when you get there for a chat with old friend over kopi and kaya toast, or even if you are going to be there for few minutes only to tabao your daily dose of kopi.

        For #portraitsofpurpose of @dbsbank.


        #singapore #instasg #madaboutsingapore2020c #communityfirst #oursingapore #SGunited #SingaporeTogether #HeapSengLeong


        COVID-19 has deeply impacted our lives and livelihoods, especially so for needy families. This ground-up initiative was done to help the most vulnerable in our community.

        With the help of MINDS and their social worker, the needy families were carefully picked. These needy families were able to choose what NTUC groceries they wanted and personalise it to fit their needs.

        In June 2020, we delivered the groceries to the needy students and their families. Upon delivery, they were most grateful for the much needed groceries.

        I hope to win the DBS Portraits of Purpose on Instagram Contest, so that I can do more deliveries to needy families in December. Especially during Christmas time, it would be nice to bring a very special Christmas present to the children from MINDS. It will be so wonderful to see their happy faces when they receive their Christmas present!



        Care to go beyond 💖
        Being deployed to the foreign worker dormitory has been the best thing that ever happened in my career.
        My purpose of life is to give without expecting anything in return. How about you?
        @valerieysabelle #nurse #lifeofanurse
        #nursing #healthcare #healthcareworkers
        #covid #singapore #caretogobeyond


        I was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy since birth.
        It is a genetic disorder which causes the muscles to debilitate over the years, leading to a slew of complications, such as the curving of the spine sideways, difficulty in swallowing and articulation of speech, as well as weakening of the lungs and heart muscles.

        My sister Sharon who is my main caregiver for over 2 decades has been through a lot of hardships which no one else could undertake.
        She is courageous , mentally she is indestructible.
        She is the one who inspires me to be positive and compassion.

        To be honest, i wouldn't have been able to thrive & come so far without her unconditional & sacrificial love.

        Although my sister and I are 14 years apart, we share a very close bond, so close that many people would mistake her for being my mum.
        We are inseparable as we spend most of the time together while our parents are out for work.
        Even when i am hospitalised, my sister would stay overnight to accompany me, sleeping on the cold hard floor.

        It is really tough on her as a full time caregiver and i believe it has taken a toll on her physically and mentally.
        She is an extraordinary caregiver, a caregiver who not only provides quality holistic care but also brings out the fullest potential in me.

        Defying against all odds, I had managed to pass my "O" level with flying colours and proceeded to pursue my dream course in Polytechnic.
        However, due to ailing health i had to put everything on hold at the moment but that doesn't hinder my passion in giving back to the society.
        I spend most of the time at home crocheting baskets for a charity event & helping students who are taking their PSLE this year by providing complimentary math lessons online.
        Despite struggling to breathe every moment, i feel that every moment spent is filled with purpose.

        This photo was taken back in 2015 during an interview with artiste Joanna Dong @j_o_a_n_n_a_d_o_n_g for a documentary show.
        This photo perfectly dictates the meaning of a sentence every radiant smile, there is an untold story.
        Sharon is truly an inspiration.

        @dbsbank #PortraitsOfPurpose

        And look out for the winning portraits for the DBS iBanking segment on the pre-login page.
          On Social
          Your stories of hope, grit, kindness and more. Watch this space as more #PortraitsofPurpose emerge.