If an organisation were to be given the title of “Cheerleader in Chief” for the for-profit sector, it would have to be the SBF Foundation. For the last 10 years, it has centred its efforts on rallying the business community to give back and build an inclusive Singapore. To commemorate its efforts, the Foundation held a gala dinner on 28 November 2023 at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
Organised to the theme of “weaving a resilient community”, the evening started with a deeply symbolic gesture of all guests donning a memento pin that contained those same words on their outfits. Signifying unity, collective effort and mutual support, it was an apt way for the social impact arm of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to kick-off the celebrations.
Other highlights of the gala event were the announcement of The Corporate Purpose Initiative, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and the presentation of a cheque of $6.196 million to The Lee Kuan Yew Centennial Fund.
A fireside chat, titled “Reflecting On the Journey of Purposeful Nation Building”, was also held. It was moderated by Ms Lee Sze Yeng, Managing Partner of KPMG Singapore and a board director the SBF Foundation. The chat focused on the lessons learnt from 60 years of nation building and applying them towards fostering a stronger community that is resilient in the face of a tumultuous, constantly changing world.
Building a resilient Singapore
Since its launch in 2013, the SBF Foundation has always been guided by its values of catalysing and creating platforms that are driven by compassion, empathy and empowerment. It aims to support a compassionate and proactive business community that collectively builds an inclusive Singapore.
This impact is most visible through a slew of initiatives initiated by the Foundation. For instance, over 1,200 business leaders have appreciated the value of empathy through experiential learning.
Over 3,900 youths, including those with disabilities, and unemployed individuals facing challenging circumstances have been empowered for a head start in education and employment.
Another is the increased awareness and care for the health and well-being of migrant workers in Singapore through Project MigrantWell. Businesses and the community came together to catalyse this, resulting in over 27,000 migrant workers going for medical check-ups, vaccinations and telemedicine in financial year 2022.
MigrantWell also funds partners St Andrew’s Mission Hospital and HealthServe to support the migrant workers in their dental, mental health and physiotherapy needs.
Speaking at the gala dinner, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Lawrence Wong said: “The SBF Foundation has come a long way in the past 10 years, advancing the culture of corporate giving and contributing to many causes in Singapore. I am confident the SBF Foundation will continue to play a vital role in rallying businesses to give back to the community.
“For our country to remain strong and united, everyone plays a key role – not only the government, but also employers, workers and businesses. We look forward to working with all of you to write our next chapter of the Singapore Story, and to continue our journey of nation-building together.”
The next lap
Indeed, the SBF Foundation is already future-gazing, as Corporate Purpose Initiative that will kick off in 2024. This was elaborated on by Ms Janet Ang, its Deputy Chairman, at the anniversary event.
“The SBF Foundation, together with SBF, will play a catalytic role to rally and galvanise businesses in Singapore to strengthen their corporate purpose to do well and do good, creating positive social impact for people, the environment and our society.
“Our goal is to catalyse ideas and initiatives to drive collective effort amongst our businesses both large and small, to support our business ecosystem – especially our SMEs in their corporate purpose journey and their ESG efforts to build sustainable businesses.”
The Initiative will therefore be the platform for businesses to come together and co-create, or co-curate, and scale new and existing programs that address gaps in the system and that have the potential to be social impact multipliers.
It will enable more businesses to join in the collaborative effort by contributing funding, expertise, corporate volunteers and/or time to specific projects. Finally, it will facilitate evidence-based research and story-telling of the social impact outcomes of its programs.
Helping to kick-start the Initiative are seven strategic donors and partners who have pledged funding support and contribution of expertise, experience, knowledge and research know-how over the next five years. They are BinjaiTree, City Developments Limited, DBS Bank, Far East Organization, RGE, Singapore University of Social Sciences and Temasek Holdings.
A second highlight was the signing of the MoU between NVPC, SBF and SBF Foundation that will leverage the latter’s Community Marketplace, a one-stop platform to bridge companies and social impact enablers. This will empower businesses to operationalise their social impact giving and have it aligned with their corporate purpose.
SBF will further facilitate this by building awareness and driving the adoption of it among its network of companies, trade associations and chambers. NVPC will support and partner companies in advancing their corporate purpose and amplifying their impact, as well as recognise exemplary organisations that inspire and lead others to be more purpose-driven.
Rounding off the evening and the looking ahead towards the Foundation’s next lap was the announcement of the $6.196 million contribution to The Lee Kuan Yew Centennial Fund. This was made possible through the combined contribution by the American Chamber of Commerce, British Chamber of Commerce, China Enterprises Association, European Chamber of Commerce, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, SBF, SBF Foundation and local businesses.
The donation is a testimony of the solidarity and respect for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and a tribute to the legacy that his wisdom and visionary leadership have left on the business community in Singapore. The cheque was presented by Ms Ang to Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education.
Even as it marked 10 years of giving back, the Foundation recognises it is embarking on other new, exciting journeys. Together, it is hoped they will serve to foster a resilient and compassionate community that can withstand the test of any challenge.