DBS Foundation awards SGD 1.25 million in grants to 12 social enterprises

To date, DBS has reached out to more than 28,000 SEs and supported over 260 SEs with more than SGD 4.7 million in grant funding. Social enterprises awarded this year committed to providing innovative solutions across Asia for various areas including social inclusion and environment protection.


MUMBAI: DBS Foundation, the first foundation in Singapore dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, today announced that it has awarded SGD 1.25 million to 12 social enterprises (SEs) in Asia, as part of its 2018 Social Enterprise Grant Programme.

The grants – which ranged between SGD 30,000 and SGD 250,000 – were awarded to SEs from Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan to encourage them to deploy social innovations in areas such as social inclusion, employment and income generation for the marginalised, environment protection and waste management solutions, as well as food sustainability.

The grants will enable SEs to enhance their offerings, bring their prototypes to market, improve existing processes or scale up their existing business to achieve greater social impact. This year, the DBS Foundation received applications from a wide range of SEs from across Asia for its annual Grant Programme.

The SEs were selected based on criteria including the ability to address social needs, business innovation, as well as the sustainability and scalability of their business models. In addition to presenting their innovative solutions, they needed to demonstrate a path to achieving key business and social impact milestones.

This year’s Singapore grant awardees include:

  • HelpUsGreen is revolutionising the way India handles the million-ton flower waste disposal, which in the process helps provide jobs to women as well. This social enterprise collects flower waste from temples which is then hand-processed by women self-help groups to produce items such as charcoal-free incense, patented bio-fertiliser, and natural soap. The grant will be used to set up the production facility of Florafoam®, obtain necessary certifications and scale up operations to other cities.
  • Haqdarshak aims to bring awareness to the rural population about their entitled welfare schemes, and empower them in the process. Haqdarshak offers supplementary services to the government’s efforts. They reach intended beneficiaries by identifying, training and placing village level entrepreneurs (haqdarshaks) to help with the application process. This social enterprise offers the last-mile support to citizens for applying to schemes, as well as use artificial-intelligence to map eligibility. The grant will help fund the building of an open source API platform as well as training more haqdarshaks.

Every year, DBS Foundation works closely with the SE Grant Awardees to scale their businesses and social impact, and they have shown commendable progress across Asia. In Singapore, DBS Foundation’s 2017 SE grant awardee Ugly Good which aims to reduce by-product wastage generated by the F&B industry through upcycling and building innovative business models around wastage, has advanced in their research & development and received positive market feedback for their self-developed cleaning agent.

Another 2017 SE grant awardee, Caption Cube, which creates opportunities for inclusive employment by hiring persons with disabilities (PwDs) as transcribers for video captioning services has grown significantly since receiving DBS Foundation’s grant funding.

In just over six months, they have hired more PwDs, grown their project pipeline and commenced a trial to enhance their subtitling technologies together with a research institute. In addition, their new live-captioning service for conferences and forums is gaining substantial traction.

DBS Foundation supports social entrepreneurs across Asia in three broad areas. This entails:

  • Building awareness and advocacy for SEs through initiatives such as the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia, annual DBS SE Summit, bootcamps, workshops and learning forums.
  • Nurturing promising SEs through incubation programmes, skilled mentorship and financial assistance.
  • Growing high potential SEs through customised support, advisory and funding, and engaging them as DBS procurement vendors.

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 mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence.

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