It’s truly heartening to find that social enterprises are viewed with high regard and relevance, especially when it comes to addressing social issues.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, social enterprises play a crucial role in helping vulnerable communities. Which is why it’s become imperative that social enterprises receive support they need to keep their operations running.
DBS disburses a whopping $9 million in loans and grants to support these enterprises.
Out of $9 million, $2 million was awarded by DBS Foundation through grant initiatives, and another $7 million was disbursed in loans to social enterprises in Singapore. Much of this support went into creating and preserving livelihoods, enabling social enterprises to create and retain jobs that hire people from disadvantaged communities.
“Companies must not only think about delivering value to shareholders, but also consider the interests of the communities they serve… Covid-19 (has) sparked unprecedented social and economic challenges – yet, these very issues have also heightened opportunities for social enterprises to make a difference,” said DBS Foundation Board Member, Karen Ngui.
On 26 November, the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant awarded close to $1.4 million to 13 social enterprises, including two based in Singapore.
The awardees were selected from 820 applications across Asia and were subject to rigorous evaluation criteria. They were also required to demonstrate paths to achieving key business and social impact milestones.
The two Singapore-based grant awardees are Ento Industries and Zigway.
Giving food waste a new lease of life
Ento Industries aims to address the perennial problem of food wastage by expanding opportunities for food by-products. With the help of its army of Black Soldier flies, the biotechnology company converts and upcycles organic waste into high-value and quality animal feedstock for the agriculture industry, effectively closing the loop on food waste.
The grant money will be used to support technology adoption and commercialisation of Ento Industries’ food waste conversion system, to reduce the amount of waste that is incinerated and eradicate the need for new landfills.
Empowering low-income communities through technology
Zigway is a fintech company dedicated to helping low-income households in ASEAN break free from poverty and achieve financial security with technology. Not only does Zigway make bulk-buying affordable through a monthly subscription model, they also provide low-interest nano loans to assist families or small businesses in need.
Zigway also trains women to take up roles as Zigway’s community champions, as they are often disproportionately impacted by poverty. The grant money will also go towards the upgrading of Zigway’s mobile application platform, and the company’s geographical expansion.
Earlier in the year, DBS Foundation introduced two other social enterprise grant initiatives, namely, the Business Transformation and Improvement Grant (BIT Grant) and DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize.
With a commitment of $500,000 in grant money, the BIT Grant was implemented to help tackle job security. Among the 14 awarded social enterprises across Asia are Singapore-based Homage, TreeDots and Bettr Barista. The grant has since supported 6,700 jobs and impacted over a million beneficiaries and their families.
The Social Impact Prize was launched to support early-stage start-ups from across the world that focus on solving pertinent social and environmental challenges faced by cities of today. Specialising in developing innovative diagnostic tests for healthcare providers, Singapore-based Stratificare, took home the inaugural Social Impact Prize in October this year.
There’s hope for social enterprises in need of loans
DBS rolled out its Digital Business Loan in May this year and was available to eligible social enterprises at an interest rate of as low as 2% per annum. Enterprises were able to receive up to $200,000 in funding within five days of signing and accepting their letter of offer. More than $1.4 million worth of Digital Business Loans have been disbursed.
This is in addition to other existing loan offerings aimed at addressing cash flow issues. They include the Social Enterprise Business Loan and the Temporary Bridging Loan. In total, over $7 million in loans have been disbursed to social enterprises in Singapore this year, a four-fold increase from a year ago.
We can’t deny the importance of social enterprises as we move towards becoming a more caring and inclusive Singapore. Let’s hope that with many more grants and initiatives being made available, social enterprises can keep fighting the good fight on behalf of us all, for a long time to come.