Amid the economic uncertainty, 14 social enterprises (SEs) across the region have been able to support lives and livelihoods not only by keeping their employees on the payroll but also by creating new jobs. With the support of the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement (BTI) Grant, these SEs have since retained the jobs of 5,200 workers, as well as added 1,500 new jobs.
In May 2020, the DBS Foundation pledged SGD 500,000 in the inaugural DBS Foundation BTI Grant, which sought to deepen support and improve job security for DBS Foundation-supported SEs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The SEs that received funding were able to retain their workers, create new jobs or pivot and transform their business models to include new revenue streams.
Homage, a Singaporean-founded healthcare platform, was one of three SEs in Singapore to receive the DBS Foundation BTI Grant.
Homage was selected by the Ministry of Health this year to perform COVID-19 swab testing and related test procedures. With DBS Foundation’s grant funding, Homage has since purchased over 2,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their frontline workers; doubled its COVID-19 taskforce to a 400-strong team; and is on track to complete swab tests for over 80,000 individuals by end-2020.
Other support measures for SEs
Beyond the DBS Foundation BTI Grant, the whole bank has come together to extend support for SEs under DBS Foundation’s care. This includes working with DBS SME Banking to provide cashflow support for SEs through measures such as working capital loans at preferential interest rates, as well as access to business and digital transformation courses.
DBS Foundation also partnered DBS Private Bank to support, champion and spark opportunities for SEs through a series of virtual roundtable events featuring a select group of social enterprises and clients, curated based on clients’ interest.
DBS Foundation is also investing in skills-based mentorship to help SEs explore ways to pivot and diversify operations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Urban farming social enterprise Edible Garden City recently underwent a customised leadership training programme conducted by DBS to help them build their HR and leadership capabilities.
DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize (SIP)
Beyond the SEs it currently supports, DBS Foundation is looking to spur on more aspiring upstarts in the social innovation and entrepreneurship scene, and encourage them to scale their impact. This move to step up support comes at a critical juncture, particularly for early-stage start-ups that are trying to fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initiated by DBS Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU), the DBS Foundation SIP aims to identify sustainable, scalable and enterprising business solutions from across the world that address crucial social problems, and can help make cities of the future more inclusive, healthier and greener.
The winners stand to receive up to SGD 150,000 worth of support from DBS. This includes SGD 100,000 in prize money, support in capacity building, mentoring by DBS’ senior management, as well as branding and profiling opportunities.
The DBS Foundation SIP received strong global response when launched last year and garnered 788 applications from 650 universities across 63 countries.
The top four finalists of the DBS Foundation SIP will duke it out in a final competition round, which will commence virtually at 11:45 AM SGT on 9 October 2020.
- Bluepha (China) – Fighting plastic pollution with the power of microbes
- Polybee (Singapore) – Enhancing food security by automating pollination
- Sampangan (Indonesia) – Enriching food nutrition from landfill waste
- Stratificare (Singapore) – World’s first severe dengue prediction test
The finals will feature an esteemed judging panel comprising:
- Tan Su Shan (Group Head of Institutional Banking, DBS)
- Nick Nash (Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Asia Partners)
- Quek Siu Rui (Group CEO and Co-Founder, Carousell)
A keynote address will be given by Piyush Gupta (Group CEO, DBS).
Members of the public are invited to tune in to catch the livestream by registering here and vote for their favourite contestant.