DBS Foundation awards SGD 1.3 million in grants to nine social enterprises across Asia

Singapore.25 Nov 2019

The 2019 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme attracted a record 600 applications from social enterprises in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Taiwan and SG


Singapore, 25 Nov 2019 - DBS Foundation, the first foundation in Singapore dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, today announced that it has awarded SGD 1.3 million to nine social enterprises (SEs) as part of its 2019 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme. The grant funding will support this year’s awardees from Singapore, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Taiwan to deploy social innovations in areas such as healthcare, nutrition, employability and income generation, education, energy, environment protection and waste management.


This year, the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme received a record 600 applications from SEs across Asia. The final nine SEs were selected based on rigorous criteria including the ability to address social needs, innovation, as well as the sustainability and scalability of their business models. They were also required to demonstrate a path to achieving key business and social impact milestones.

The 2019 Singapore grant awardees (please see appendix for full list of awardees) include:
Agape, Connecting People (Agape) is a venture-backed contact centre services company with a social mission to empower the disadvantaged and marginalised – such as inmates, ex-convicts, single mothers and the disabled – with employment and income opportunities. Agape provides a suite of contact centre services and solutions tailored to suit their customers’ needs, including telemarketing, livechat, database maintenance and email management. The DBS Foundation grant will go into establishing a new training facility, developing a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ)-Certified curriculum as well as subsidising course fees for marginalised groups.

NamZ is a food science company committed to creating a healthier planet through nutritious food that is also good for the environment. With their proprietary manufacturing technologies, they have created a revolutionary instant noodle product that is tasty, affordable, and rich in lean protein and fibre. Their instant noodles also boast a 300% reduced fat content relative to existing instant noodle products. NamZ is supporting smallholder farmers with better income, while the use of Future Fit Crops reduces the over-reliance on commodity crops. The DBS Foundation grant will be used to scale up production capacity, therefore making the nutritious noodles more accessible and widely available.

reach52 (previously Allied World Healthcare) is dedicated to delivering basic healthcare services in underserved communities and strengthening local health systems. They train and empower community members to use offline-first apps that connect them and their local communities to government support alongside affordable private sector services. reach52’s grassroots health access service is managed and run locally, hence creating jobs and income. The DBS Foundation grant will help build reach52’s partner management team and scale up social impact in one new market in Asia that is facing serious gaps in healthcare delivery.

Said Karen Ngui, Board Member of DBS Foundation and DBS’ Head of Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, “The DBS Foundation was formed five years ago and since then, we have witnessed a fast growing realisation of how businesses of all shapes and sizes can be a force for good. The record number of grant applications received this year is testament to the fact that more people, especially millennials, are passionate about creating innovative solutions to address a myriad of pressing social and environmental issues. From empowering the disadvantaged and marginalised, to creating nutritious food that benefits both the environment and smallholder farmers, we are delighted to support these inspiring social entrepreneurs as they strive to build a better future for all.”

Wide-ranging support for social enterprises
Over the last five years, DBS has been ramping up efforts to integrate SEs into the bank’s ecosystem by providing SEs with business and learning opportunities, and giving DBS’ customers and staff the opportunity to contribute towards a better world. While the bank has been supporting SEs for many years, it stepped up its commitment to the growth of social entrepreneurship with the establishment of the SGD 50 million DBS Foundation in 2014, to commemorate Singapore’s 50th year of independence. To date, DBS has reached out to more than 52,000 people, supported over 100 SEs with more than SGD 5 million in grant funding, and nurtured over 300 SEs through non-monetary forms of support. All around the world, SEs are gaining public attention for their contributions to business and social impact – nine DBS Foundation-supported SEs were named in 2018 and 2019 Forbes “30 under 30” lists.

Under the DBS Social Enterprise Support Programme, the grant awardees stand to receive mentorship by DBS’ SME bankers, as well as banking and finance training courses at the DBS SME Academy. They will also be provided access to virtually free banking services through the bank’s decade-old DBS Social Enterprise Package, which comes with zero-minimum balance for account opening and unsecured loans at preferential rates. To raise awareness and interest beyond traditional philanthropy, DBS Private Bank runs a quarterly “Windows on Philanthropy” lunch series on impact investing and social entrepreneurship for its high-net-worth clients. In line with its commitment to advancing the sustainability agenda as a purpose-driven bank, the second season of DBS’ award-winning mini-series Sparks is also inspired by true stories of social enterprises across Asia. The five episodes to date aim to address some of the most pressing social and environmental issues of the day, while shedding light on the challenges faced by social enterprises.

2020 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Call
The DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant is now open to social enterprises across Asia that have a business product or solution that has been validated by the market, with demonstrated commitment to a social mission, and a clear roadmap towards scaling social impact. Applications received before 31 March 2020, 2359hrs (Singapore time, GMT +8) will be evaluated and awarded in the first half of 2020. Application forms received on 1 April 2020 and thereafter will be evaluated and awarded in the second half of 2020. To find out more about the grant programme, visit go.dbs.com/Grants.

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1) Agape, Connecting People (Agape) is a venture-backed contact centre services company with a social mission to empower the disadvantaged and marginalised - such as inmates, ex-convicts, single mothers and the disabled - with employment and income opportunities.
2) NamZ is a food science company committed to creating a healthier planet through nutritious food that is also good for the environment.
3) reach52 (previously Allied World Healthcare) is dedicated to delivering basic healthcare services in undeserved communities and strenghtening local health systems.

Please see appendix for full list of awardees.

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About DBS
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney, “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker and “Best Bank in the World” by Global Finance. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 11 consecutive years from 2009 to 2019.

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, and positively impacting communities through supporting social enterprises, as it banks the Asian way. It has also established a SGD 50 million foundation to strengthen its corporate social responsibility efforts in Singapore and across Asia.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. The bank acknowledges the passion, commitment and can-do spirit in all of our 28,000 staff, representing over 40 nationalities. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.


About DBS Foundation
Championing Social Entrepreneurship
As a corporate foundation in Asia solely dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, DBS Foundation contributes towards building a more inclusive society so that those at society’s margins can enjoy productive and rewarding lives. DBS Foundation works with Social Enterprises in Singapore, India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong with programmes ranging from venture challenges, learning forums, grant support, financing and skills-based volunteer mentoring. The Foundation is an endeavor from DBS Bank to make an even greater impact in addressing Asia’s evolving social needs. Please visit www.dbs.com/dbsfoundation or reach us at dbsfoundation@dbs.com.