Structuring Breakthroughs in Social Financing


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. In Feb 2014, DBS launched the DBS Foundation to scale up its support for communities in Asia, and make an even greater impact in addressing the region’s evolving social needs by catalyzing social innovation and encouraging the development of innovative social initiatives.

Following the previous collaboration with Eden, DBS Foundation commissioned Eden between 2015 to 2016 to develop an approach to realize DBS Foundation’s strategic direction for the next 5 years with a Social Financing Innovation Framework that complements its non-financial support to create social impact as a bank foundation. The objective of this study is to identify the gaps in the SE financing ecosystem by uncovering key challenges faced by SEs when accessing capital, as well as the current characteristics of existing investors and funders of any capacity in order to surface opportunities for DBS Foundation to lend its support to social enterprises in the region via social finance.


Eden took a systemic view towards social financing by drawing insight from analysis of available literature, reports, articles, research, and published data on social financing; engaging with impact investors, bank foundations, impact investing arms of other financial institutions, social finance research intermediaries, and family offices, who were selected based on their range of experiences in social financing, particularly those relevant to Asia’s unique developments, challenges, and practices; and incorporating practitioners’ views towards the implementability of our proposed Social Financing Innovations.


Our study culminated in a fresh approach of hybridising product structures, to provide optimal social and financial returns to both capital providers and social enterprises, as well as strategic recommendations for the sector to re-examine current approaches of developing meaningful financing mechanisms that can sustain the growth of Asia’s social enterprise sector.

Created with Sketch. “Eden Strategy Institute have a strong track record in diligent study and insightful analysis of industry trends and opportunities, and one of the few such organisations with a unique appreciation for innovation and social entrepreneurship. It therefore was an easy decision to engage them to help DBS Foundation assess the social finance landscape in Asia, and what opportunities were available for development. They were collaborative in the early planning stages, consulting regularly with DBS Foundation and clearly understood our requirements, with honest communication when the research encountered the occasional challenge. With the analysis and report, Eden brought not only an academic rigour but also relevant use cases that made the findings applicable and useful to our core business. In a field with a short history and less visible industry accomplishments, what Eden has been able to put together is informative, insightful and relevant.”


Patsian Low


DBS Foundation