SINGAPORE - Grants worth up to $100,000 will be made available for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are creating innovative sustainability solutions, under a new programme launched by DBS Foundation.
The programme was announced last week and aims to support companies that propose to address challenges in one of three areas: reducing energy consumption, reducing waste or creating sustainable supply chains.
Besides the financial help, the companies can also get structured mentorship and advisory support.
DBS Foundation and the bank's SME banking team will work with the grant recipients to map out key milestones and impact outcomes across a two-year horizon.
The firms will also get help in scaling their businesses, including a range of solutions related to working capital, supply chain financing and digital transformation.
But to get the grant, firms that apply must show that their solutions are innovative and scalable.
They must also have clear plans to integrate sustainability into their business operations, while having a strong leadership team with demonstrated commitment towards building a sustainable enterprise.
The SMEs must be incorporated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India or Indonesia.
DBS group head of SME banking Joyce Tee 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."
But she observed that engagements with SME owners also showed that they are often caught up with operational matters and might lack the resources to begin their sustainability journey, although they are interested in adopting more sustainable business models.
"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," she said.
"Beyond grant funding, DBS will also avail our suite of sustainable financing solutions, ecosystem platforms, and advisory services to help the most promising SME awardees accelerate their transformation efforts."
Besides this grant programme, DBS Foundation also has another scheme for social enterprises, which is now in its eighth year.
The programme aims to plug the funding gap for start-ups that solve critical social or environmental issues through their businesses. This includes supporting those with solutions to tackle food waste issues.
Firms can get up to $250,000 under this programme, which is open to social enterprises that are in their seed to initial scale-up stages, and are incorporated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India, or Indonesia.
Ms Karen Ngui, DBS group head of strategic marketing and communications, said: "Since the inception of DBS Foundation eight years ago, we have helped support over 800 social enterprises across the region and awarded over $10 million in grants to 93 social enterprises.
"Many of these social enterprises 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."
She added that businesses are increasingly expected to be a force for good in these post-pandemic times. Along with the new programme, the bank hopes to encourage more SMEs to take a step forward in sustainability.
The application window for both grant programmes opened on April 15 and will close on May 31. Applications received after that date will be evaluated in the next grant cycle.
The announcement of successful grant awardees will be made towards the end of this year.