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DBS supports social enterprises through $9 million in grants and loans

SINGAPORE – DBS Bank has stepped up support for social enterprises through a record $9 million in grants and loans this year to help them cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the support has enabled social enterprises to hire and retain people from disadvantaged communities.

The DBS Foundation on Thursday (Nov 26) said it has awarded $1.4 million in grant funding to 13 social enterprises in the 2020 cycle of its flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme. The enterprises were selected from a record 820 applications across Asia, and includes Singapore-based Ento Industries, which tackles food waste.

Some of the other enterprises awarded are Hong Kong-based retail chain Greenprice and India-based ElderAid, which provides medical and administrative support for the elderly.

DBS Foundation board member Karen Ngui said: “In the world we’re living in today, companies must not only think about delivering value to shareholders, but also consider the interests of the communities they serve. This has really come to the fore amid Covid-19, which has sparked unprecedented social and economic challenges – yet, these very issues have also heightened opportunities for social enterprises to make a difference, and helped to cement the importance of their role in society.”

Two other grant initiatives were introduced earlier this year, the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement Grant (BTI Grant) and the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize.

The BTI Grant, a $550,000 commitment launched in response to Covid-19, was awarded to 14 social enterprises across Asia, including three based in Singapore – Homage, TreeDots and Bettr Barista. It has supported 6,700 jobs and impacted over a million beneficiaries and their families.

Singapore-based enterprise Stratificare, which develops innovative medical diagnostic solutions, bagged the Social Impact Prize in October this year. The award offers winners $100,000.

Social enterprises have been increasingly recognised for relevance in society.

In a survey conducted by DBS Foundation in partnership with the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, 72 per cent of respondents said they are aware of social enterprises and what they do, a sharp rise from just 13 per cent in 2010.

The survey, conducted in April this year with more than 2,000 Singapore respondents, found that almost all the respondents viewed social enterprises as being relevant and important. A total of 95 per cent of the respondents agreed that social enterprises are a good way to address social issues.

Reference