DBS Foundation partners the Ministry of Social and Family Development to catalyse lower-income families’ progress towards a better and more financially resilient future

Singapore.09 Dec 2023

In August, DBS pledged SGD 1 billion over the next decade to intensify support for vulnerable segments in society – three-year partnership with MSF is the first under this flagship programme

This will support lower-income families by ensuring early education for children and accelerating home ownership aspirations; to benefit some 8,500 children and 1,400 families per year

DBS will also mobilise its employees to befriend the families, and provide financial literacy training for them and their family coaches

Singapore, 09 Dec 2023 - DBS Foundation today announced a multi-pronged partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to improve the lives and livelihoods of lower-income families with children living in rental flats, by equipping them with the support, know-how and opportunities to break out of their present circumstances.

This is the first initiative that comes under the bank's SGD 1 billion pledge to uplift vulnerable segments of society over the coming decade. First announced in August, this pledge involves DBS committing up to SGD 100 million per year over the next ten years to improve lives and livelihoods of the low-income and underprivileged, and foster a more inclusive society. This pledge augments existing community initiatives by the bank and DBS Foundation.

Under the partnership, DBS will commit SGD 30 million over three years to fund two ComLink+ packages, which are designed to address ComLink+ families' concerns around home ownership and enable their children's early education. In addition, DBS will contribute its financial expertise and resources to empower ComLink+ families - including their children - and ComLink+ Family Coaches with the know-how to progress towards better financial circumstances. The bank will also mobilise 400 employees to serve as volunteer befrienders for 200 ComLink+ families.

The DBS Foundation X MSF partnership will help uplift ComLink+ families and reinforce their efforts to make sustainable progress towards their long-term goals, so that they can achieve financial stability and resilience.

Committing SGD 30 million to help address ComLink+ families' preschool education and home ownership needs

MSF recently announced the introduction of ComLink+ packages to strengthen support for ComLink+ families that are taking active steps to improve their circumstances. Four packages will be progressively rolled out from the second half of 2024 and trialled over three years.

DBS Foundation will be the anchor partner for the ComLink+ packages on Preschool Education and Saving for Home Ownership, and will contribute over SGD 30 million to fully fund the community-funded portion for these packages over the three years. The two packages are projected to benefit around 8,500 children[1] and 1,400 families[2] respectively per year.

As preschool enrolment and attendance rates of children from lower-income families are lower than that of their peers, the Preschool Education package seeks to encourage families to prioritise their children's preschool education and set them on a path towards better educational outcomes in the future. Families that ensure their child is enrolled in preschool in the year they turn three years old will receive a one-off SGD 500 top-up in their Child Development Account (CDA); families will also receive a SGD 200 CDA top-up for every quarter of good school attendance.

The Saving for Home Ownership package seeks to accelerate the progress of ComLink+ families towards owning a home. Families that make voluntary top-ups to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts to save up for a home purchase will receive matched top-ups at a 2:1 ratio through this package. In other words, an SGD 2 top-up will be made for every SGD 1 of voluntary CPF contribution made by the family[3].

Please refer to the appendix for details on the Preschool Education and Saving for Home Ownership ComLink+ packages.

DBS volunteer befrienders to provide ComLink+ families with targeted support

Recognising that ComLink+ families can benefit from more targeted support and financial knowledge, DBS Foundation is also working with MSF to pilot a tailored befriending programme. For starters, 400 of the bank's employee volunteers will be progressively trained as befrienders for 200 ComLink+ families in Ang Mo Kio, Yishun, Boon Lay and Taman Jurong.

The volunteer befrienders will engage the families closely through monthly visits and various outings, and look to build meaningful connections with them. They will also provide emotional support, help keep the families on top of their goals, and work alongside the MSF Family Coaches to assist them as needed. Should the families require guidance on financial planning and related matters, the volunteers will also serve as a bridge to the bank's broader expertise and resources on this front.

In a bid to ensure good money habits are instilled from an early age, the volunteer befrienders will also engage children from these families on key financial literacy concepts during the befriending journey. Using a curriculum that's specially designed by the bank to make learning fun and interactive, the volunteers will take the children through topics such as needs and wants, savings and budgeting, among others. This follows the successful rollout of three pilot workshops for children aged between six to 12 years last year, organised in partnership with ComLink, which had received positive feedback from them and their families.

In addition, DBS Foundation will also drive financial literacy training for ComLink+ Family Coaches to equip them with the know-how and competencies to better support the families on this front.

The DBS Foundation X MSF partnership was launched by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Mr Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank, at the National Gallery this afternoon. Several ComLink+ families and their DBS volunteer befrienders were also in attendance, after enjoying the morning touring the Gallery Children's Biennale and other exhibits together.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Mr Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank, delivering opening remarks at the launch of the DBS Foundation X MSF partnership respectively.

Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, said, "Thank you, DBS for stepping forward to contribute to ComLink+. Especially in the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners and the Forward SG exercise, it has shown us how important it is to work together, to strengthen support for lower-income families in their journey towards Stability, Self-reliance and Social mobility. In doing so, this has allowed for Singapore to enjoy the success that we have today."

Piyush Gupta, CEO at DBS Bank, said, "A deep sense of purpose is deeply rooted in DBS' DNA. Over the years, we've actively helped various segments of society through our banking and community initiatives. This year, amid rising inflation and an uneven economic recovery, we rolled out an extensive package of cost-of-living measures to support our customers. To further intensify our efforts to help the vulnerable, and in an effort to catalyse larger-scale sustainable change, in August, we extended our efforts with an SGD 1 billion commitment to uplift the vulnerable over the next 10 years. The partnership with MSF is our first under this programme. By coming alongside the ComLink+ families - and providing that extra support so they can provide early education for their children, own a home sooner, and gain financial resilience - we hope to do our part in helping them build a better future."

This partnership with the MSF marks the latest initiative by the bank to uplift vulnerable segments in the community. Just last month, DBS Foundation, which is dedicated to igniting positive change in businesses and communities, announced a partnership with SG Enable to reach 6,500 persons with disabilities and their caregivers over three years starting 2024, and equip them with the financial and digital skills to face the future with confidence.

(from left to right) Monica Datta, Head of Community Impact Chapter, DBS Foundation; Karen Ngui, DBS Foundation Board Member; Han Kwee Juan, Country Head of DBS Singapore; Minister Desmond Lee; Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank; Denise Low, Director, Service Delivery Division, MSF; and Adeline Kwok, Director, Communications and Engagement, MSF.

Minister Desmond Lee, representatives from DBS and MSF, ComLink+ families and their DBS volunteer befrienders pose for a photo to commemorate the launch of a strategic partnership between DBS Foundation and MSF. This seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of lower-income families with children living in rental flats, by equipping them with the support, know-how and opportunities to break out of their present circumstances

APPENDIX: Details of ComLink+ packages supported by DBS Foundation

Package's Objective: To encourage early enrolment and regular preschool attendance, to improve children's subsequent educational outcomes.

Action(s) that the family must take

Financial top-ups that the family will receive

Estimated no. of potential beneficiaries per year

Ensure child is enrolled in preschool in the year he/she turns 3 y/o

One-off SGD 500 top-up to child's CDA

Around 8,500 children

Ensure child attends preschool regularly from 3 - 6 y/o

Recurring SGD 200 top-up to child's CDA for every quarter of good attendance (≥ 75% attendance)

Table 1.1: ComLink+ package (Preschool Education)

Package's objective: To help families to save up for their flat purchase.

Action(s) that the family must take

Financial top-ups that the family will receive

Estimated no. of potential beneficiaries per year

Make voluntary contributions to CPF

2:1 matched CPF contribution - for every SGD 1 of voluntary contributions to CPF by family, SGD 2 top-up will be made to selected family members' CPF-Ordinary Account.

Around 1,400 families

Table 1.2: ComLink+ package (Saving for Home Ownership)


About DBS
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 19 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 Global Finance, “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney and “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker. 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 15 consecutive years from 2009 to 2023.

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, as it banks the Asian way. Through the DBS Foundation, the bank creates impact beyond banking by supporting social enterprises: businesses with a double bottom-line of profit and social and/or environmental impact. DBS Foundation also gives back to society in various ways, including equipping communities with future-ready skills and building food resilience.

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.

[1] Based on estimated number of 3-year-olds in ComLink+ families who could be enrolled in preschool each year, and 3- to 6-year-olds in ComLink+ families who are enrolled in preschool each year.
[2] Based on estimated number of ComLink+ families that are in stable employment and able to contribute to CPF each year.
[3] Up to a limit of SGD 30,000 in total pay-outs across Saving for Home Ownership and Employment ComLink+ packages