DBS Foundation awards record SGD 3 million to 19 businesses-for-impact across Asia, fuelling their growth and scaling social and environmental action

Singapore.30 Dec 2021

Funding will enable businesses to impact 24,000 lives, abate 160,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions, and reduce 250,000 tonnes of food and plastic waste

Singapore, 30 Dec 2021 - DBS Foundation, the first foundation in Singapore dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, has awarded close to SGD 3 million to 19 social enterprises (SEs) to grow their business, and scale their social and environmental impact. Awarded via 2021’s instalment of the bank’s flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme, the grant quantum is more than double the usual amount disbursed each year.

With DBS Foundation’s grant funding, these 19 businesses will collectively impact 24,000 lives across the region by availing access to quality healthcare and education, and improving the livelihoods of those in rural communities. The businesses will also work towards abating 160,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions, as well as reducing 120,000 tonnes of food waste and 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste.

DBS will further support the businesses towards achieving these targets by availing access to the bank’s wide-ranging resources, which include skills-training and capacity-building, opening doors to networking and business opportunities, procurement, as well as awareness-building through various initiatives and platforms. DBS Foundation will also conduct half-yearly reviews with the businesses to monitor their progress, and work closely with them to refine and iterate their growth plans.

Identifying changemakers through the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme

The pandemic has deepened societal fault lines, and as consciousness of this continues to rise, so will stakeholders’ expectations for businesses to go beyond profit-making to play more meaningful roles in society. Increasingly, businesses will need to focus on how they can drive the transition towards a more sustainable world, a stance that DBS strongly aligns with.

Through the grant programme, DBS aims to identify, support, and fuel the growth of innovative early-stage businesses that are driving positive change from the ground up with future-forward and potentially ground-breaking solutions.

Karen Ngui, Group Head, DBS Strategic Marketing and Communications and Board Member of DBS Foundation, said, “There’s a growing pool of young enterprises that, to us, represent the future of business. They’re developing innovative solutions to solve pressing social and environmental problems, and with their dual bottom-lines of profit and impact, can make a difference in a sustainable manner. We see them as purpose-driven changemakers who are paving the way towards a more sustainable future, and are committed to supporting their growth. With the prolonged pandemic, we have more than doubled our grant quantum this year so as to help more of such businesses tide through this trying period, while scaling impact.”

Handpicked from close to 700 applicants across Singapore, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and Taiwan, these 19 businesses-for-impact will channel their funding towards enhancing and deploying their innovations, which seek to tackle issues spanning healthcare, nutrition, employability and income disparity, education, energy, environment protection and waste management, all of which are pertinent and increasingly prevalent today.

There are five Singapore-based awardees, most of which are science- and technology-driven companies that will be leveraging their grant funding to explore the use of emerging technologies, improve and scale existing systems, and deepen research and development (R&D) efforts. They are:

  • Alchemy Foodtech aims to empower healthier meals and reduce the risk of diabetes in the long run through Alchemy Fibre™, which lowers glycemic index in food and makes carbs healthier. Their grant will be channelled towards automating their production line, and enabling outreach to financially disadvantaged individuals.
  • Gentle Foods develops soft and nutritious food products for the elderly, especially those with dysphagia, and aims to bring the joy of food back to them. Their grant will be used to scale up production of texture-modified foods, and will also be invested into R&D for new products.
  • Magorium aims to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste, and provides a cheaper, safer and more sustainable method of plastic recycling. Using their proprietary recycling technology and environmentally safe techniques, they transform plastic waste into NEWBitumen, a material that can be used in replacement of traditional (crude-derived) bitumen for road construction. Their grant will enable up to 200 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste to be processed, and help construct a pilot eco-road in Singapore using NEWBitumen.
  • We Are Caring enables ethical hiring of foreign domestic workers, and uplifts their livelihoods by eradicating exorbitant salary deductions and equalising the hiring process. Their grant will be used to launch and deploy their mobile application, and facilitate expansion into new markets.
  • Eden and Elie is a jewellery brand that employs and trains adults with autism to become skilled jewellery artisans. Their grant will be used to catalyse international expansion and engage two new underserved beneficiary groups.

Please refer to the appendix for full list of awardees

To find out more about the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme and the 2021 batch of awardees, visit go.dbs.com/Grants.

Driving the collective shift towards a more sustainability-conscious world

Since 2015, the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant has given out more than SGD 10 million in grant funding to 93 SEs across the region. This is in addition to broader forms of support from the bank including business, networking, and learning opportunities with which to navigate a changing business environment. For example, DBS recently conducted data and cyber wellness refresher workshops for 400 SE employees to better equip these businesses in an increasingly digital world.

Beyond the grant programme, DBS also supports the wider SE ecosystem in other ways. Over the years, it has nurtured over 800 SEs through non-monetary forms of support. DBS is also focused on deepening ecosystem partnerships with which to equip SEs with the skills and support they need to grow, and collectively create a stronger foundation for the sector.

For instance, in a bid to encourage and support young start-ups that are looking to pilot new solutions, DBS Foundation has extended the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize (first launched and awarded at the 2020 Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition organised by Singapore Management University) to the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Impact Start-up Challenge, which was held in October this year. The prize was awarded to Singapore-based Strong Silvers, which seeks to advocate and inspire the elderly to adopt active and healthy lifestyles.


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 and the world’s “Most Innovative in Digital Banking” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia” award by Global Finance for 13 consecutive years from 2009 to 2021.

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. For more information, please visit www.dbs.com.