Asia’s growth over the past few decades has undoubtedly improved many lives in the region, including Singapore. Yet, there are growing social problems such as widening income disparities and ageing populations, as well as environmental challenges that need our urgent attention.
As the former development bank of Singapore, DBS has had a history of trailblazing and innovating as we contributed to the building of this country. More than 10 years ago, we observed an emerging trend of small businesses committed to solve social issues and wanted to leverage the expertise and network of DBS Bank to champion social entrepreneurship. Consequently, DBS pioneered the Social Enterprise Banking Package in 2009 to provide banking services to support the growth of such businesses.
By championing social enterprises, the DBS Foundation can accelerate social impact and strive towards a better world where businesses become a force for good and provide sustainable outcomes.
DBS Foundation was announced in February with SGD 50M fund ahead of but in conjunction with Singapore's 50th year as a nation. This was to signal our serious commitment to addressing the region’s evolving social needs.
“At DBS, we are of the view that we share a symbiotic relationship with the societies and communities which we operate in. We believe in being a force for good. Apart from creating long-term economic value, we also seek to positively benefit the communities we are present in and deliver social value. The DBS Foundation will enable us to be a further catalyst of change”.
– Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS Bank
Over the Years
DBS Foundation chalked out several programmes to help social enterprises in various stages of their growth journey. Starting with grant support, our programmes ranged from venture challenges, learning forums, intensive incubation, and mentoring.
Regional Challenge for Social Enterprises
Starting in 2014 with 400 entries, the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia (SVC Asia) went on to become the largest regional platform to identify and celebrate the up and coming social enterprises from the region. In 2016, we received 1027 entries from 32 countries.
In 2018, a total of S$135,000 in cash prizes was awarded to five winning teams at the 2018 DBS-NUS SVC Asia. 870 entries were submitted from 42 countries - the highest number of participating countries for this competition, evidencing the growing interest in social entrepreneurship across the region. More information
Social Enterprise Grant Programme
Our Inaugural batch of 11 grant recipients from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Singapore went on to grow and develop their initiatives in areas such as healthcare, education and environmental sustainability. Read More
Our Social Enterprise Grant Programme in 2016 saw 12 social enterprises being awarded grants of SGD 1M to grow and develop their initiatives in areas such as healthcare, education and environmental sustainability. Read more
In 2017, 14 social enterprises from Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Taiwan received grants totalling to SGD1.1M. The grants helped them grow their operations around inclusive employment, environment protection, waste management solutions and food sustainability. Read more
We awarded SGD 1.25M to 12 social enterprises in 2018 to encourage them to deploy social innovations in areas such as social inclusion, environment protection and waste management solutions, as well as food sustainability. Read more
Annual Summit for Social Enterprises
Getting the social enterprise community together through our Annual DBS Foundation SE Summit helped start crucial conversations, make those relevant connections and initiate the necessary strategic thinking to build resilience in our social heroes. Over 200 social enterprises from across Asia with 35 expert speakers from 13 countries participated at our inaugural social enterprise summit centred on the theme ‘Hard Truths and Honest Conversations’ in 2016.
DBS Foundation’s second Social Enterprise Summit, held for the first time in Jakarta, was based on the theme of ‘Innovate for Impact’ and brought together 300 participants to discuss their challenges and triumphs in pursuing their social innovations and stay relevant in the age of disruption.
In 2018, we partnered the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) to organise the Social Enterprise Week - marked with competitions, retail marketplace, conversations and workshops. DBSF Social Enterprise Summit centred on the theme of ‘Social Impact + Profit: Can boundaries be blurred?’ was well received by 300 participating SEs and the Festival for Good - Asia’s largest celebration of social enterprises brought 9000 people to attend.
Mentoring Social Enterprises
About 99 social enterprises were nurtured through senior management mentoring, skills-based volunteering and capacity building programmes in 2017-2018. Read about them here.
The DBS Social Enterprise Support Programme was launched in 2018 for social enterprises to have access to mentoring sessions by DBS’ senior SME bankers, banking and finance training courses at the DBS SME Academy, as well as better financing options. Read more