DBS increases support for social enterprises amid COVID-19

Photo by Bongkarn Thanyakij

Recognising the important role that social enterprises (SEs) play in creating positive impact in society – whether by hiring disadvantaged members of society or solving societal problems – DBS has announced a slew of proactive measures to beef up support for this sector.

They include a working capital loan at preferential interest rates, grant offerings, access to business and digital transformation courses, and a business resource guide for SEs to tap into.

Joyce Tee, Group Head of SME Banking, DBS and Board Member of DBS Foundation said that the financial needs of SEs who have a positive impact on at least 126,000 beneficiaries in Singapore, are often overlooked by lenders as they usually do not have a borrowing history with banks or the relevant credit profiles.

As a result, access to working capital to keep their business afloat may be even more difficult during the present COVID-19 economic downturn.

“The business community in Singapore has been buffeted by COVID-19. To fulfil their social and business mission, SEs are working harder than ever during this period to protect jobs and do their part for society,” she added.

Fast access to working capital

To help SEs protect jobs and alleviate cashflow pressures amid these difficult times, DBS is making available the collateral-free SE Digital Business Loan to all 360 raiSE-registered SEs at an interest rate of 2% per annum. Through this loan, SEs will be able to receive up to SGD200,000 in funding as quickly as five days after they sign and accept their letter of offer.

Understanding the manpower crunch that SEs face, DBS has also simplified the loan application process to the SE Digital Business Loan. Credit assessment processes have been streamlined and SEs need only provide their most recent bank statement or Notice of Assessment for their application to be processed. The application process is completely contact-free and digital.

The SE Digital Business Loan also comes bundled with complimentary loan replacement insurance which takes the financial strain off an SE in the event of unexpected circumstances, such as accidental death or accidental permanent disability. Loan processing fees usually pegged at SGD 500 or 2% of the approved loan amount will also be absorbed by the bank.

DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement (BTI) Grant

The DBS Foundation has set aside SGD 500,000 in the DBS Foundation BTI Grant, open to 60 DBS Foundation-supported SEs across Asia, and is in addition to the annual DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant.

The purpose of DBS Foundation’s BTI Grant is two-fold: to provide funding support to SEs so that they can protect and create jobs, as well as pivot digitally in search of new income streams to transform their business operations, ultimately empowering them to continue serving their beneficiaries and the wider community.

In addition to funding, grant awardees will benefit from DBS Foundation’s SE support network which includes mentorship, business networking and matchmaking opportunities with the bank’s clients and fellow SEs.

Training and Resources for SEs

SEs can also tap into the bank’s complimentary webinars and online courses to further ease them into the world of digital banking. Throughout the next few months, they can sign up to be trained on how they can transact, trade and manage their banking needs from the comfort of their home offices.

In addition, DBS is also equipping all SEs with a complimentary COVID-19 Business Resource Guide to give SE business owners the insights needed to navigate their businesses through the current economic uncertainty.

The guide will contain fresh perspectives from industry leaders on how the operating landscape is likely to change as a result of COVID-19, and actionable tips for SEs to position themselves for recovery and growth as economies in the region look towards a gradual restart.

Alfie Othman, CEO, Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, raiSE said, “We recognise that any aid extended to businesses to ease the strain on cashflow will keep them operational for a longer time, thus giving them the much needed runway to bounce back and retain jobs in the process.”