2020 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme awards SGD 1.4 million to 13 Social Enterprises (SEs), including two from India

MUMBAI, December 15, 2020: DBS Foundation announced that it has awarded close to SGD 1.4 million (INR 7.71 Cr) in grant funding to 13 social enterprises (SEs) across Asia in the 2020 cycle of its flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme. The grant recipients are from DBS’ six key markets- India, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan.

The grant aims to support the awardees in deploying their social innovations in areas such as healthcare for the elderly, agriculture, health tech, waste management, financial services, consumer goods, infocomms and employment services. The 13 SEs were selected from a record 820 applications across Asia – a 30% increase from the 2019 edition. Awardees were subject to rigorous evaluation criteria, including their social impact, innovation, as well as the sustainability and scalability of their business models. They were also required to demonstrate a path to achieving key business and social impact milestones. All Grant Programme awardees will have access to DBS’ resources which include capacity-building; inclusion in awareness-raising initiatives through various programmes and platforms; procurement, networking and opening doors to new business opportunities.

The winning awardees from India are: 

Ecozen – This Pune-based SE enables climate-smart ‘Farm-To-Fork’ value chain with three core offerings – Ecotron, Ecofrost & Eco-Connect – to support farmers and reduce agri-produce loss. Founded with a vision to disrupt the way perishables are handled across the value chain, Ecozen is innovating at the intersection of clean-tech and Internet of Things for the agriculture sector, empowering it to be efficient and eco-friendly. The grant will support the development and implementation of Ecofrost, their solar-powered cold storage room, in new geographies in India.

ElderAid – Headquartered in Bengaluru, the SE provides a broad suite of home-based healthcare and wellness services designed for the elderly, to enable them to live their golden years with independence, dignity and security. These include healthcare support such as digital at-home vitals check-ups, emergency response, accompanied hospital visits, counselling and physiotherapy, and wellness assistance in the form of support in areas including volunteering, travel, taxes, paperwork filing, and errands. ElderAid currently supports elders in the cities of Bengaluru, Kochi and Palakkad and has seen a surge in the number of enquiries since the pandemic, with 25% of these enquiries coming from other cities requesting support. The grant will support ElderAid’s geographical expansion within India and also provide training to more caregivers.

 Karen Ngui, Board Member of DBS Foundation, said, “In the world we’re living in today, companies must not only think about delivering value to shareholders but also consider the interests of the communities they serve. This has really come to the fore amidst Covid-19, which has sparked unprecedented social and economic challenges – yet, these very issues have also heightened opportunities for social enterprises to make a difference, and helped to cement the importance of their role in society. At DBS, we believe social enterprises represent the future of business. As a purpose-driven bank, DBS is committed to supporting the growth of this sector, helping these social enterprises to protect the lives and livelihoods of their staff and beneficiaries, and standing by them as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.”

DBS Foundation was set up in 2014 to champion the growth of social entrepreneurship. The Foundation’s SGD 1.4 million grant award follows two other SE grant initiatives that DBS Foundation introduced earlier this year. In an effort to support its past grant awardees during the pandemic, DBS Foundation constituted the Business Transformation and Improvement (BTI) Grant in response to Covid-19 with an SGD 550,000 commitment. The additional funding aimed to support enterprises in protecting jobs, as well as pivoting and transforming their business models to include new revenue streams. The BTI Grant was awarded to 14 SEs across Asia, including five based in India- Incredible DevicesHaqdarshakPhoolBodhi Health Education and Kheyti Tech.

Access to working capital to protect jobs and ensure business continuity was an immediate priority – and challenge – for many SEs when the pandemic emerged. DBS has stepped up its support for social enterprises (SEs) globally with SGD 9 million in loans and grants this year. This is the bank’s largest collective disbursement of loans and grants within a year to SEs since the inception of DBS Foundation. Much of this support has gone towards creating and preserving livelihoods.