DBS Foundation and SG Enable kick off first-of-its-kind strategic partnership to equip persons with disabilities with financial and digital literacy skills

Singapore.21 Nov 2023

DBS Foundation contributes SGD 1 million to a new flagship initiative to help persons with disabilities to face the future with confidence

This will be co-developed and delivered with SG Enable, and aims to upskill 6,500 persons with disabilities and caregivers over three years

Singapore, 21 Nov 2023 - DBS Foundation and SG Enable today announced a strategic partnership to strengthen support and skills training for persons with disabilities, to enable them to live more independently and have greater access to social and economic opportunities in a fast-changing world. As part of the partnership, DBS Foundation will contribute SGD 1 million to the flagship initiative. In addition, the bank will provide subject matter expertise in financial and digital literacy skills, and mobilise its employee volunteers to equip persons with disabilities with these skills to face the future with confidence.

(from left to right) Ku Geok Boon, SG Enable CEO; Moses Lee, SG Enable Chairman; Ms Jane Ittogi; President Tharman Shanmugaratnam;
Karen Ngui, DBS Foundation Board Member; and Monica Datta, Head of Community Impact Chapter, DBS Foundation.

This marks the launch of strategic partnership between DBS Foundation and SG Enable to equip persons with disabilities with financial and digital literacy to face the future with confidence. 

This partnership is the first-of-its-kind, with DBS Foundation being the first corporate to partner the disability sector to upskill persons with disabilities on a national scale. The initiative aims to reach some 6,500 persons with disabilities and caregivers over three years starting 2024. This aligns with the Enabling Masterplan 2030’s focus on enhancing persons with disabilities’ access to lifelong learning opportunities, and supports the national movement to create a more inclusive Singapore by 2030.

Growing urgency to address financial and digital literacy gaps in the landscape

Based on focus groups held by SG Enable, 80% of persons with disabilities surveyed pointed out that digital and financial literacy skills, which are essential for daily living, are not covered in existing training programmes. This sentiment was further reinforced at SG Enable’s inaugural Enabling Academy Learning Festival held in August this year, when over 50% of attending persons with disabilities and their caregivers expressed interest to learn about topics such as the concept of money and savings, cashless payments, and digital banking.

The need to address these knowledge gaps among persons with disabilities and enable them to live more independently has become increasingly crucial today. According to the Enabling Masterplan 2030[1], the number of students reported to have special education needs in Singapore rose by 5% from 2021 to 2023. In addition, Singapore faces an ageing population including 40% of adults with disabilities who will be 65 years or older by 2030. This, coupled with national population trends such as declining birth rates and shrinking household sizes, means that the disability landscape will face a range of challenges from care planning for persons with disabilities who may outlive their caregivers, to increased caregiving loads for smaller families.

A collective effort to create a more inclusive Singapore

Drawing on their respective areas of expertise, DBS Foundation and SG Enable will jointly develop a customised learning roadmap that aligns with the national Enabling Skills Framework to be launched next year and caters to diverse learning needs. This includes supporting different disability profiles including those with autism, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and sensory disabilities. In addition, recognising that some caregivers may not be financially and digitally literate themselves, the partnership aims to encourage them to attend the workshops alongside their wards.

The learning roadmap will cover a wide range of topics spanning basic financial concepts such as budgeting, money management and insurance, to guiding application of these concepts in a digital world through topics such as digital banking, online security, and scam awareness, among others. Scenario planning – for example, exploring persons with disabilities’ long-term financial security in the event of their caregiver’s passing – may also be incorporated to pave the way for important conversations about the future.

Learning will be conducted via a variety of channels to ensure accessibility and convenience for persons with disabilities and their caregivers. This includes holding workshops where they live and work, and availing self-directed learning via e-modules. Learning formats will incorporate virtual reality, interactive games and more, to make learning engaging and fun.

Beyond upskilling persons with disabilities, the partnership also seeks to foster a stronger support system for them. To this end, DBS Foundation and SG Enable will work on developing resource guides, toolkits and course materials for trainers, caregivers, special education schools and others in the ecosystem, to equip them with the know-how to support persons with disabilities on their learning journeys.

Ms Ku Geok Boon, Chief Executive Officer at SG Enable, said: “The partnership between DBS Foundation and SG Enable comes at a time when the world becomes more digitally driven and persons with disabilities are vulnerable to being left behind. This initiative will bridge the gaps as well as empower as many persons with disabilities and their caregivers as we can with the knowledge and skills they need to live well and take action to secure their long-term financial well-being. As part of the national movement towards lifelong learning, this initiative enables quality learning opportunities for persons with disabilities as well as their network of support through training.”

Ms Karen Ngui, Head of Group Strategic Marketing and Communications, DBS and DBS Foundation Board Member, said: “The DBS Foundation is committed to uplifting lives and livelihoods, and sparking collective action to catalyse change. We are privileged to partner SG Enable on this shared vision to empower and enable persons with disabilities to face the future more confidently by tackling existing knowledge gaps. With the new customised learning roadmap, coupled with our employee volunteerism efforts, we hope to make enduring impact on the lives of persons with disabilities and their caregivers. As we navigate this increasingly fast-changing world together, it is imperative that we ramp up support for segments of society that may need it more, to help ensure that no one is left behind."

DBS Foundation and SG Enable officially kicked off the partnership by piloting a small group workshop at the Enabling Village this morning, which was attended by four persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Aged between 20 and 35 years, the attendees have different disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and autism. During the hour-long workshop, which included a mix of theory and breakout activity sessions, DBS volunteers guided the attendees through key financial literacy concepts such as saving and budgeting.

The launch of the partnership was graced by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Ms Jane Ittogi, who also spoke to the workshop participants and their caregivers to understand their learning journey and challenges.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam interacting with Muhammad Sayfullah (seated next to President Tharman - second from the right), a learner with disabilities, at a pilot financial literacy workshop by DBS Foundation and SG Enable, during which attendees learned about concepts such as saving, differentiating needs and wants, among others.
Muhammad Sayfullah has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and a speech impediment, but gained confidence in communicating with others though the use of technologies such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools. 

This partnership with SG Enable is the latest in a series of initiatives by DBS Foundation to empower the community, especially the vulnerable segments, to face the future with confidence. These include a partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to equip 100,000 Singaporeans and residents with digital literacy skills over two years. To enable this, the bank will conduct some 800 digital literacy workshops by 2024, and fund new Digital for Life projects. So far, some 32,000 people have participated in the workshops.

As a purpose-driven bank, DBS has always been active in giving back to society. In August this year, the bank announced that it would intensify efforts to give back to society, with a commitment to contribute up to SGD 1 billion in funding and 1.5 million employee volunteer hours over ten years, to support vulnerable segments such as the low-income and underprivileged. The bank will deploy up to SGD 100 million each year in Singapore and its other key markets with effect from 2024.

[1]Source: Enabling Masterplan 2030


About DBS Foundation
The DBS Foundation is committed to uplifting lives and livelihoods by igniting change in businesses and communities.

Since 2014, the DBS Foundation has been championing social enterprises in Asia, businesses that are for profit, and impact. The Business for Impact chapter now catalyses the growth of innovative, purpose-driven businesses, including SMEs, designed to address pressing issues facing our planet and society.

In 2022, the DBS Foundation raised the bar with the formation of a new Community Impact chapter, to equip the underserved with digital and financial literacy skills to face the future with confidence, and enable communities to be more food secure and resilient.

Our vision is to spark collective action, together with our partners and DBS People of Purpose, to help build a better world for generations today and tomorrow.

For more information, please visit: www.dbs.com/dbsfoundation

About SG Enable
SG Enable, the focal agency for disability and inclusion in Singapore, enables persons with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in an inclusive society. We create equitable opportunities for persons with disabilities through thought leadership, sustainable social innovation and impactful partnership. Guided by our core values of professionalism, innovation and empathy, we envision a more inclusive Singapore and enabled lives. Set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in 2013, we are a registered charity and an Institution of a Public Character.

For more information, visit www.sgenable.sg