How DBS Foundation Grant Programme will help social enterprises boost their journey of scaling up impact

The annual flagship programme of the Foundation will award social enterprises and SMEs with grants up to SGD 250,000 to scale up businesses creating social and environmental impact. Additionally, SMEs aiming to start their sustainability journey will be awarded grants up to SGD 100,000.
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In efforts to deepen its support for the Social Enterprise (SE) sector, DBS Foundation with its flagship SE grant programme aims to plug the funding gap for startups solving critical social and environmental issues and empower them to scale up to create a more profound impact. The programme also features a “Zero Food Waste” category, focused on supporting SEs whose solutions help tackle the global problem of food waste.

The DBS Foundation SE Grant Programme, now in its eighth year, is looking for social enterprises with innovative solutions toward impact areas of social and environmental impact. Applicants will be evaluated on demonstrating a market-validated business model, a clear roadmap for achieving dual bottom-line growth, and demonstrated commitment to social and environmental missions. The opportunity is open to social enterprise startups that are in seed to initial scale-up stages and incorporated in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Indonesia.

The awardees will receive holistic support from DBS to strengthen business foundations and scale growth. Apart from the grant, the programme allows awardees to access other benefits including support in capacity-building and mentorship, business and networking opportunities, and awareness-building. It will also provide access to other businesses-for-impact in the DBS Foundation’s ecosystem to facilitate peer learning and potential collaboration. For this programme, the grant awardees stand to receive a grant amount up to SGD 250,000.

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director and Head - Group Strategic Marketing & Communications at DBS Bank India, said, “DBS, as part of its sustainability agenda, continues to support the growth of enterprises creating social impact through innovative products and business models. Since the inception of DBS Foundation eight years ago, over 800 SEs have been engaged with and over SGD 10 million in grants have been disbursed across Asia. Many of these SEs have evolved from startups to steadily growing businesses-for-impact, which is very encouraging to see.”

The application window for the grant programmes will be open until mid-June, 2022. All applications received before then will be evaluated in 2022, and applications received after that will be reviewed in the next grant cycle. The successful grant awardees will be announced towards the end of this year.

Building a sustainable enterprise

In alignment with DBS Bank’s commitment towards furthering the agenda of sustainability among businesses, DBS Foundation has also launched a new grant programme to support small and medium enterprises looking to kickstart their transition towards becoming more sustainable. This is an extension of DBS Foundation’s ongoing support for social enterprises (SEs), as it endeavours to foster businesses with dual bottom-lines of profit and impact.

The DBS Foundation SME Grant Programme aims to find SMEs that provide innovative sustainability solutions. To apply for the grant, businesses must send proposals suggesting solutions to reducing energy consumption, waste, or sustainable supply chains. Applicants will be assessed on their ability to demonstrate innovativeness and scalability of their solution, clear plans to integrate sustainability into business operations, and a strong leadership team with a demonstrated commitment toward building a sustainable enterprise. The opportunity is open to SMEs incorporated in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The awardees stand to receive grant amounts of up to SGD 100,000.

Sudarshan Chari, Executive Director and Head of Business Banking at DBS Bank India, said, “While SME owners have shown keen interest in adopting sustainable methods, they lack clarity on its implementation. They also face resource and bandwidth constraints which prevents them from shifting to new business models. This is a gap that DBS Foundation aims to fill with the new SME Grant Programme. This grant will help SMEs take their first step towards transforming into businesses for impact. Beyond the grant, DBS will also provide its suite of sustainable financing solutions and ecosystem platform solutions to help the most promising SME awardees accelerate their transformation efforts.”

Banking on a sustainable future

DBS Bank has been committed to doing business responsibly and sustainably while reducing its environmental footprint and creating social impact beyond business. DBS Foundation, Singapore's first foundation dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, was established in 2014 to support the growth of innovative businesses-for-impact. DBS Foundation identifies, funds, and fuels the scaling up of innovative growth stage enterprises driving positive social change through their products and services. It also intends to create a purpose-driven social entrepreneurship community in Asia to establish meaningful connections and foster collaborations to improve the world.

In 2021, three Indian social enterprises – Trestle Labs, Recity Network and Jovaki Agro, won the DBS Foundation grant. Recently, the bank also committed an additional SGD 100 million to further its efforts to improve lives in Asia. The funds will catalyse the work of the DBS Foundation and the bank's various philanthropic and crisis relief measures. The additional SGD 100 million in funding will allow the bank and DBS Foundation to boost their support for purpose-driven businesses and do more to address the region's increasingly pressing societal issues.

The funds will also be used to support other philanthropic initiatives and relief measures for communities in need during the pandemic.

For more details on the DBS Foundation SE Grant Programme,

For more details on the DBS Foundation SME Grant Programme,

1. Grant will be disbursed after the SME grantee has successfully achieved each milestone

2. Applicants can only apply for either one of the grant programmes, depending on which best fits their business profile and impact objectives.


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