Banking on Asia’s Social Enterprises


DBS Bank is the largest bank in South East Asia by assets, with leading positions in consumer banking, treasury and markets, asset management, securities brokerage, equity and debt fund-raising. With a reputation as a leading financial services group in Asia, DBS has given a commitment to contribute back to the community in a sustained manner.

The bank has been active in supporting social enterprises because they resolve social issues through financially-viable solutions over the long term. Since 2012, the bank has provided close to SGD 2 million in grants to 56 social enterprises in Asia, as well as growth capital for capacity building, business guidance and mentoring support through staff volunteerism.

In Feb 2014, DBS launched the DBS Foundation to scale up its support for communities in Asia and catalyse social innovation by encouraging the development of ground-breaking social initiatives. DBS Foundation appointed Eden Strategy Institute to support its launch with a systematic and sustainable strategy that guides its activities to maximum its impact in the short- to very long-term.


Eden worked with DBS Foundation to articulate an ideal short- to long-term vision, by identifying its unique capabilities, traction of its existing programmes, and motivations to collaborate with promising Social Enterprises across six markets of interest. We engaged with on-ground stakeholders to help structure an understanding of social enterprise nuances in each country, including their local definitions; sector potential; as well as the dynamics of various philanthropic, enabler, and beneficiary groups. We then reframed key sector challenges as opportunities where DBS Foundation could form partnerships and resolve trade-offs, scouted for international innovations which could be localized as meaningful corporate social partnerships, aligned DBS Foundation’s aspirations, capabilities, and business imperatives with the sector ‘white spaces’, crafted specific performance measures, and provided detailed resources to support DBS Foundation’s successful execution of its vision.


Eden has continued to support DBS on various social enterprise initiatives. Today, DBS Foundation has become well-acknowledged as a leading supporter of social enterprises, and was even been recognised as the Social Enterprise Champion of the Year (Corporate) at the President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Awards in 2019.

Created with Sketch. “Calvin and his team from Eden are a young and smart team that are driven, dedicated and well versed with the CSR landscape in Singapore and around the region. They have a great ‘can-do’ attitude and are prepared to take on tough tasks with tight deadlines. We engaged their services to do a quick scan of the Social Enterprise landscape in the region in a few short weeks and they responded admirably. I enjoyed working with Calvin – he has good points of view and is prepared to defend his thinking … And at the same time has an open mind, is a good listener and without fail always strives to provide high quality insights and outputs.”


Karen Ngui

Managing Director and Head of Group Strategic Marketing & Communications

DBS Bank