DBS Foundation To Support Asian Social Enterprises And SMEs Through Its 2023 Grant Award
Grant awardees stand to receive up to INR 1.5 CR (SGD 250,000) in funding, and can tap the bank’s resources and expertise including skills-building support, mentorship, and access to its network.
DBS Foundation has announced the Business for Impact Grant Award for social enterprises and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) that are developing innovative solutions to address pertinent social and environmental issues.
Now in its ninth year, the award is designed to recognise and catalyse the growth of businesses that have successfully integrated both social/environmental impact and financial profit into their business models and are strongly positioned for long-term growth. SMEs and social enterprises can submit their applications until15 June 2023.
As of last year, DBS Foundation has also expanded the Grant Award’s mandate with the introduction of an SME category to encourage these businesses to transition towards more sustainable models. Over 250 SMEs applied for the award despite it being the first instalment, reflecting the sector’s growing awareness and interest in this space.
Sudarshan Chari, Executive Director, and Head- SME Banking, DBS Bank India said, “SMEs have demonstrated their ability and willingness to adopt sustainable practices. However, they often face challenges such as limited resources, insufficient bandwidth, and uncertainty about achieving scale. DBS Foundation’s Business for Impact Grant Award aims to assist such enterprises in transitioning to sustainable and impact-driven models. In addition to the grant, we offer a range of sustainable financing and ecosystem platform solutions to accelerate their transformation journey.”
The work of last year’s 23 Grant Award recipients is projected to collectively benefit more than two million lives and livelihoods in Asia, reduce over 100,000 tonnes of food waste, and abate greenhouse gas emissions by 300 tonnes by end 2024. Three Indian startups- Neomotion Assistive Solutions, Saathi Eco Innovations, and Urdhvam Environmental Technologies were among the recipients of the grant.
Beyond the funding, recipients of the Grant Award can tap into the resources and expertise across DBS to bolster their businesses. These include preferential banking packages, skills-building and mentorship, and access to a robust ecosystem of like-minded businesses, investors, and enablers, among others. This holistic support has enabled many past awardees to unlock their potential by accelerating the growth and development of their businesses – such as enhancing their operational capacity and expanding into new markets, depending on their respective business needs – while concurrently deepening their social and/or environmental impact.
Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director – Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India, said, “The DBS Foundation Grant Award seeks to support and inspire the next generation of changemakers while advocating for responsible business practices. We strongly believe that purpose-driven businesses have the potential to create a positive impact and play a significant role in addressing critical societal issues. Our award serves as a platform to offer our unwavering support to these enterprises in their journey to develop innovative solutions, empowering them to achieve their full potential.”
Since its launch in 2014, DBS Foundation has contributed to the growth of over 800 businesses for impact in Asia. Out of this, around 100 enterprises have been awarded more than SGD 13 million (~INR 80 Crore) in total through the annual Grant Award. Despite the supposed high failure rate of early-stage start-ups, over 90% of the foundation’s grant awardees continue to remain in operation today, and several winning enterprises have been demonstrating exceptional growth, emerging as industry leaders. This includes the likes of Phool, Haqdarshak, S4S Technologies and Ecozen Solutions from India.
The Grant Award is open to social enterprises and SMEs that are registered in the bank’s six key markets in Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia). Applicants will be assessed based on the following criteria:
- Strong leadership team with a clear commitment towards being a business for impact, supported by relevant expertise and experience
- Strong business model with a clear value proposition and market traction/ potential
- Robust plans outlining how the grant funding will be deployed to commercialise and scale the solution over the next two years
- Measurable impact targets and the ability to track progress on these
All applications received before 15 June 2023, 9:30 PM IST will be evaluated for this year’s instalment, and applications received thereafter will be evaluated in the next cycle.