The big debate: Are we here only for shareholder returns?

Or are there more stakeholders that we can positively impact?

Businesses have begun to come under the spotlight. They’re now expected to be accountable not only to their shareholders but also to society and environment at large.

A tangible bottom line – the traditional measure of corporate success – is now slowly blurring. Businesses are realising that being a force for good in society is linked to long-term sustainability, and stakeholders now go beyond just shareholders and investors. The annual DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Summit saw pioneering companies that have taken action by integrating social priorities as part of their business, no longer distinguishing boundaries between social impact and profit.

In his opening speech, DBS Group’s CEO, Piyush Gupta encouraged businesses to take a long-term view of profitability and to think of driving social impact as an investment and not an expense. Although in the short term, the distinction may seem like a compromise on profitability. However, Piyush noted that: ”When you start thinking of generations, if you start thinking about sustainable long-term enterprises, the boundary gets blurred rapidly.”

“The only way you can have a long-term future is if you’re there for the long-term. And the only way you will be there for the long-term is if civil society gives you the license to be there for the long-term.” This year, the Social Enterprise Summit forms part of the larger Social Enterprise Week. The DBS Foundation awarded prize money to the winners of the fifth DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge and the week concluded with FestivalForGood, a weekend pop up market at Marina One.