Firms 'can work together to give back'

They should pool resources to help meet social needs in the community: ESM Goh

Companies should work together and pool their resources when helping to meet social needs in the community, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

He said: "The last mile of delivery (of social services) is often not met. If you have a presence in the community, like the People's Association (PA), you know better what the individuals need... and you have a good understanding of what companies can give, then you can marry the two and that would be much more effective (in meeting the needs)."

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural Project We Care Seminar at Pan Pacific Hotel. The event aims to connect companies to share best practices in corporate giving and think of new ideas to do more for society.

Project We Care, started in 2012, is an initiative led by companies and the PA to promote corporate volunteerism.

In his speech to about 200 participants at the seminar, Mr Goh cited the example of Project We Care Stay Well, which helps 40 needy families in Marine Parade to live better by carrying out basic refurbishments in their homes.

The PA facilitated the pooling of resources and brought together 19 companies in the Project We Care network to help in different ways.

For instance, engineering company Hope Technik sent 80 employees to help clean up homes, and lent its engineering expertise in repairing leaking pipes and faulty wheelchairs. Another engineering firm, Koh Kock Leong Enterprise, supported the initiative by donating money to cover refurbishment costs.

The initiative has since been extended to residents in Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West.

Mr Goh also encouraged companies to help society on a regular basis. "Volunteerism needs to move past the 'touch and go' towards a 'touch and hold' model," he said.

Mr Bernard Yang, managing director of eyewear store Nanyang Optical, agreed that it was important for companies to collaborate with other organisations. The store is a member of the Project We Care network.

He said: "Addressing needs in the community should be a collective effort. It is when we work together and leverage on the strengths of one another that we will be able to do more to benefit the community."

Project We Care chairman Wee Wei Ling said: "We believe that the seminar can serve as a conducive networking and brainstorming platform for corporates to explore ways to give back to society and also inspire others to do the same.

"By encouraging interaction between peers, we can rally more partners to join our cause and see ideas materialise into projects that will benefit the community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Firms 'can work together to give back''. Print Edition | Subscribe