DBS Foundation awards SGD 3.7 million in grant funding to 24 Businesses for Impact, including 5 from India

Businesses for Impact (BFIs) to also receive bank-wide support such as preferential banking packages and mentorship

Bengaluru, 21 March 2024 – DBS Foundation has unveiled the 24 Businesses for Impact (BFIs) that have received the DBS Foundation Grant Award in the latest instalment of this flagship initiative. Five of these awardees are from India and will receive funding and access to a suite of opportunities including networking and patient capital to scale up operations, while collectively uplifting lives and livelihoods.

These purpose-driven BFIs are working at the nexus of economic, environmental and social impact and their innovative solutions are a pathway to a more inclusive, low carbon future. Project Baala, with its focus on sustainable menstrual solutions and literacy, aims to improve the health of women and girls in rural areas. Green Worms is an emerging circular economy enterprise generating employment for women, while Zerund Manufacturing is reshaping the building materials industry with eco-friendly solutions. Karo Sambhav is enabling a more circular economy by implementing collection and recycling solutions for electronic and other types of waste, while Swachh Sustainable Solutions (ReCircle) is championing a traceable supply chain for waste pickers.

The five Indian BFIs were among the 24 finalists for the DBS Foundation grant from across Asia. From a record ~2000 grant applications received across DBS markets, the final grantees were evaluated based on stringent criteria, including their ability to create social and environmental impact, to innovate and on the overall sustainability and scalability of their organisations. The winning BFIs will receive holistic support to scale both their business and the impact generated through grant funding totalling SGD 3.7 million for all the grantees; along with additional support such as customized banking services and capacity-building, along with access to business prospects.

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director, Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India said, “Through the DBS Foundation Grant Programme, we are proud to have the opportunity to try and address any funding challenges faced by these innovative businesses that are doubling down on ways to tackle social issues, while uplifting the most vulnerable among us. This year’s awardees from India, focusing on areas like waste management, responsible consumption, inclusive employment and women’s health, are working on sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time. We believe that the DBS Foundation grant and comprehensive support will go a long way towards empowering these businesses to drive positive change and champion social impact.”

Collectively, with the DBS Foundation’s support, these 24 BFIs aim to achieve significant milestones by the end of 2025. In India specifically, Project Baala will use the grant for the launch of hydrophobic sanitary pads in India, reducing plastic waste while educating underserved women. The grant will enable Karo Sambhav to launch an e-waste management facility in Maharashtra, generating green jobs and enabling the recovery of critical minerals. Green Worms will utilise the grant to expand its recycling facility in Kerala, befitting more than 120 villages in the region through waste management and job creation. Swachh Sustainable Solutions (ReCircle) plans to use the funds to enhance its traceability platform ClimaOne, diverting 400 tons of waste from landfills, while improving the lives of waste pickers. Zerund Manufacturing will be able to scale up using the funds, to produce eco-friendly construction materials. The growth of these businesses aligns with India’s pathway to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by addressing climate change concerns as well as the challenges faced by underprivileged and marginalised communities.

2024 marks the 10th year of the DBS Foundation’s work, championing BFIs and equipping them for success. To date, funding totalling SGD 17 million has been awarded to 140 of the region’s most innovative BFIs via the DBS Foundation Grant Award. This has helped to address the funding gap commonly faced by many of these young enterprises and the grant awardees have since gone on to raise more than ten-fold in follow-on funding. Traditional financing options often prioritise short-term profitability metrices and may not be the best fit for BFIs. In contrast, the DBS grant provides catalytic capital along with the time required to further their growth plans.

With DBS Foundation’s support, these 24 BFIs aim to collectively achieve the following impact outcomes by end 2025:

● Positively benefit one million people from underprivileged segments by increasing access to solutions and providing daily needs;

● Abate and/ or save 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; and

● Collect, reduce, or recycle 50,000 tonnes of waste.

In August 2023, DBS had pledged up to SGD 1 billion over 10 years to uplifting vulnerable segments in society. In 2022, DBS Bank India in collaboration with Social Alpha, awarded grants to five Indian startups focused on enhancing food security by reducing quantitative and qualitative food loss and waste, under the accelerator programme ‘Techtonic – Innovations Towards Zero Food Waste’.

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