DBS Foundation gives SGD 1 million to support financial and digital literacy for persons with disabilities

The DBS Foundation, which works to bring about social uplift through positive changes in business and communities, has tied up with SG Enable, the focal agency for disability and inclusion in Singapore, in order to accelerate financial and digital literacy for persons with disabilities with a grant of SGD 1 million.

Left to right: Ku Geok Boon, CEO, SG Enable; Moses Lee, Chairman, SG Enable; Singapore First Lady Jane Ittogi; Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Karen Ngui, DBS Foundation Board Member; and Monica Datta, Head of Community Impact Chapter, DBS Foundation, at the launch of the initiative. Photo courtesy: DBS Foundation

The two entities jointly addressed the media in Singapore yesterday, informing the public about this “flagship initiative”, which would start in 2024. Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and First Lady Jane Ittogi attended the launch of the initiative at the Enabling Village.

This inclusive initiative is meant to help persons with disabilities attain a greater degree of independence and access more opportunities. According to the joint statement, the initiative plans to reach around 6,500 persons with disabilities and their caregivers over the next three years.

Yesterday’s initiative launch event was followed by a pilot financial literacy workshop, attended by four persons with various disabilities — cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and autism — and their caregivers. President Tharman and First Lady Jane interacted with the workshop participants on what kind of guidance they needed.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam interacts with learners with disabilities at a pilot financial literacy workshop by DBS Foundation and SG Enable. Attendees learn about concepts such as saving, differentiating needs and wants, among others. Muhammed Sayfullah has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and a speech impediment, but has gained confidence in communicating with others though the use of technologies such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools. Photo courtesy: DBS Foundation
Emily Chua has Down Syndrome. She is also an artist with JOURNEY by TOUCH Community Services. JOURNEY is part of SG Enable’s i’mable Collective, which aims to develop a viable market for quality merchandise and services by persons with disabilities. Photo courtesy: DBS Foundation

Since 2014, the DBS Foundation has been championing social enterprises in Asia, businesses that are for profit, and impact. The Business for Impact chapter now catalyses the growth of innovative businesses, including SMEs, designed to address pressing issues facing the planet and the people. In 2022, the Foundation established the Community Impact chapter, to equip the underserved with digital and financial literacy skills, enabling communities to become more resilient.

First Lady Jane Ittogi with Noah Tan, one of the participating learners who has moderate autism; his mother; and volunteers and representatives from DBS Foundation and SG Enable. Noah is an artist, and is seen here sharing his artwork, which includes the prints on the bag, with the First Lady. Photo courtesy: DBS Foundation

Outlining its aims, the DBS Foundation website said: “As digital technologies continue to evolve and proliferate, it is now more critical than ever to foster a more equitable and inclusive society, in which no one is left behind.”

Infographic courtesy: DBS Foundation

In 2022, the DBS Foundation entered into “a strategic collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to support the national Digital for life movement and to step up DBS’ volunteer participation to enhance access to digital literacy training, bolstering digital inclusion efforts in Singapore”. 

Within the IMDA collaboration, the DBS Foundation has set the goal of “mobilising at least 2,500 of the bank’s employees, with the support of community partners such as the SG Digital Office, to run 800 digital workshops that will help participants make sense of everything from digital banking and payments, to how to spot and avoid scams”.

In continuation of the outline of its collaboration with the IMDA, the Foundation website said: “Some of these sessions will be held in select DBS/POSB branches to make it convenient for those who are more familiar with over-the-counter services to pick up digital skills.”