Joyce Tee (left) and Karen Ngui

DBS Foundation has launched a new grant for SMEs to kickstart their transition towards becoming more sustainable businesses. This is an extension of DBS Foundation’s ongoing support for SMEs, as it endeavours to foster the growth of businesses-for-impact, regardless of their stage of growth.

Thus, the foundation has commenced its search for SMEs with innovative sustainability solutions, noting that proposals should address at least one of the following areas: (1) reducing energy consumption; (2) reducing waste; and (3) sustainable supply chains.

DBS said in a statement that the recipients will stand to receive up to S$100,000 in financial incentive as well as a structured mentorship and advisory support. “DBS Foundation and the DBS SME Banking team will work with each SME awardee to map out key milestones and impact outcomes across a two-year horizon,” the statement said.

Awardees will also receive support from the broader DBS franchise to help promising candidates scale their businesses – including a range of working capital, supply chain financing, and digital transformation solutions.

For the assessment process, applicants must demonstrate the innovativeness and scalability of their solution, clear plans to integrate sustainability into business operations, and a strong leadership team with demonstrated commitment towards building a sustainable enterprise.

DBS Foundation said that the programme is open to SMEs incorporated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, and Indonesia.

Joyce Tee, group head of SME Banking at DBS, and board member of DBS Foundation said: “As the world emerges from the shadow of Covid-19, there is a renewed sense of urgency among SMEs to make a positive impact beyond themselves even as they grow their businesses.

“While our engagement with SME owners has revealed their keen interest in adopting more sustainable business models, they are often caught up with operational matters and may lack the bandwidth or resources to begin. This is a gap that the DBS Foundation aims to fill with the new SME Grant Programme, which will help SMEs take their first step towards transforming into businesses for impact.”

Beyond grant funding, Tee said that DBS will also avail its suite of sustainable financing solutions, ecosystem platforms and advisory services to help promising SME awardees accelerate their transformation efforts.

DBS Foundation also continues to deepen its support for the Social Enterprise (SE) sector, with its flagship SE grant programme now in its eighth year. The programme was designed to plug the funding gap for inventive start-ups that are solving critical social and/or environmental issues through their businesses and empower them to scale up to create deeper impact.

The SE grant programme also features a “Zero Food Waste” category, which is focused on supporting SEs whose solutions help tackle the global problem of food waste. For this programme, DBS Foundation is looking for SEs with innovative solutions tackling these impact areas: (1) social impact, (2) environmental impact, and (3) “Zero Food Waste”.

Grant awardees stand to receive up to S$250,000 and will get a holistic support to strengthen their business foundations and scale growth. “DBS and DBS Foundation will channel all resources to avail SE awardees with comprehensive support in areas including capacity-building and mentorship, business and networking opportunities, and awareness-building.

At the assessment stage, applicants must demonstrate a market-validated business model, a clear roadmap for achieving dual bottom-line growth, and a demonstrated commitment to a social and/or environmental mission.

This grant is open to SEs that are in seed to initial scale-up stages, and incorporated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India, or Indonesia.

Karen Ngui, group head of Strategic Marketing and Communications at DBS, and board member of DBS Foundation, said: “Since the inception of DBS Foundation eight years ago, we have helped support over 800 SEs across the region and awarded over S$10 million in grants to 93 SEs. Many of these SEs had innovative business models with strong potential for growth but were impeded by capital and capacity-building gaps.

“Most of them have evolved from start-ups to steadily growing businesses-for-impact, which is very encouraging to see. Businesses are increasingly expected to be a force for good in these post-pandemic times, and with the new DBS Foundation SME grant programme, we hope to encourage and enable more SMEs to take a step forward in their sustainability journey.”

The application window for both grant programmes commence from today (15 April) to 31 May 2022. All applications received before 31 May 2022, 11.59pm (Singapore time, GMT +8) will be evaluated in 2022, and applications received thereafter will be evaluated in the next grant cycle. The announcement of successful grant awardees will be made towards the end of this year.

For more details on the SME Grant Programme, click here while for the SE programme, click here.


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