HSBC Singapore today announced a partnership with Singapore Management University (SMU) that is focused on helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and social enterprises in developing sustainable practices and business models. With a grant of $300,000 from HSBC, SMU will offer training, consulting, mentoring, and specialised programmes through its research capabilities to help companies embed environmental, social and governance considerations into their business goals.

The HSBC-sponsored programme is broken into three streams to support businesses, at different stages of growth and ESG transition, embed sustainable practices.

1) SMEs can receive support via SMU Business Transformation Initiative. HSBC funding will support 10 SMEs in 2018/19 with specific sustainable business focus. The Programme aims to transform their business, through enhancing their business model, human capital development and operations.

2) Start-ups can utilise SMU’s Business Innovations Generator programme, which has incubated 178 start-ups since its launch. HSBC’s contribution will focus on supporting 2 start-ups with focus on sustainable businesses through a 9-month incubation period, including training on sustainability and entrepreneurship.

3) Social enterprises – The third programme is called HSBC-SMU Change Leaders for Environmental Sustainability. The Programme is a 12-month experience for entrepreneurs and innovators who are fully dedicated to setting up and running a social venture intended to address an environmental. This programme aims to produce two viable companies, organisations or prototypes by the end of the programme.

Daniel Klier, Group Head of Strategy and Global Head of Sustainable Finance, HSBC, said: “Having a strategic approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for businesses of any size but rather a strategic imperative. The benefits are clear: reputational performance, investor engagement and increased demand for your products. The implication is that one leads to the other. Understanding this and acting early to place ESG at the heart of your business will pay dividends in future.”

HSBC’s move comes amid research by the Global Disclosure Project which shows 80- 90% or more of a business’s environmental impact is located in its supply chain. Moeover, HSBC research has found that while only 18% of smaller firms rate being sustainable as important to them today, almost half (46%)2 said it would be important to them over the next three years.

Tony Cripps, HSBC Singapore CEO, added: “Small business are the backbone of Singapore’s economy but it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect these smaller entities to make the transition alone. At HSBC, we have done a lot of thinking about what will help these dynamic businesses expand their horizons, including understanding what help people need at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with SMU in this important initiative.”