As the impacts of climate change grow more evident, businesses are seeing an increased need and demand to be more sustainable.
Many companies are reporting their sustainability efforts and this is where ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting comes into play – a framework used to measure and understand an organisation’s operations regarding sustainability and ethical issues.
For Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which constitute 99 per cent of Singapore’s enterprises, embracing sustainability not only benefits the environment but also enhances market position and can serve as a valuable guideline to evaluate a company’s social consciousness.
In the long run, with comprehensive ESG practices and strategies, SMEs can gain a competitive advantage over their peers and lower their overall operating costs by over 60 per cent, while increasing their brand reputation with customers and investors.
In fact, investors in Singapore expect to invest more on sustainable assets as part of their portfolios in the next two to three years.
Given these advantages, SMEs should look to integrate ESG practices into their core operations. Yet, many still struggle to adopt ESG practices due to challenges such as budget constraints in today’s economic environment.
In recognising these challenges faced by SMEs and supporting them towards their ESG journey, DBS has implemented a sustainability framework with four key pillars – learn, connect, finance, and track better – to not only meet the growing demands for sustainability and ethical responsibility, but also thrive in Singapore’s business landscape.
Knowledge, partnerships, financing, and tracking are key to tackling ESG challenges
The first pillar under DBS’ sustainability framework is the “Learn Better” pillar, which is designed to equip resource-constrained SMEs with basic concepts in the sustainability space and bolster their knowledge with the latest ESG trends.
The bank has partnered key industry experts to provide an array of workshops, ranging from the fundamentals of sustainability to intermediate masterclasses for SMEs to learn more about sustainability and the importance of adopting sustainable practices for their businesses.
These workshops are curated to equip SMEs with insights and knowledge on various topics, such as Singapore’s sustainability standards and guidelines, how to successfully establish their decarbonisation roadmap, and enabling companies to obtain assurance and verification to gain a competitive edge.
It’s essential for SMEs to understand and identify key areas and trends in the sustainability space. Through DBS’ “Learn Better” pillar, SMEs can stay abreast with the latest regulations and trends, integrating them into their operations to ensure their business remains relevant and responsive to evolving environmental and social expectations.
Having knowledge and key information of the latest sustainability trends is only the first step for SMEs to kickstart their ESG journeys. The second pillar of DBS’ framework – “Connect Better” – is designed to match SMEs to the right strategic partners to successfully navigate the sustainability space.
Under this pillar, DBS facilitates connections between SMEs and leading industry partners, such as Deloitte, TUV Sud and Schneider Electric. This is achieved through curated programmes and hands-on training, including personalised consultations, employee training, access to thought leadership resources, and assistance in obtaining assurances and certifications in sustainability.
These offerings are also supported by the government, and SMEs may qualify for subsidies, making them both accessible and budget-friendly options.
The right strategic partners play an integral part of a business’ sustainability journey. Through these partners and programmes, SMEs can look forward to fostering sustainable practices for their businesses and tap into specialised expertise and resources.
Additionally, DBS also offers a range of financing options under its third pillar – the “Finance Better” pillar – to further facilitate SMEs in enabling sustainability transition.
Embracing sustainability often involves significant expenditures, such as investments in equipment, working capital, and innovation. Recognising these financial demands, SMEs can leverage DBS’ comprehensive financing solutions to ease the financial burden associated with it.
DBS offers tailored financing for eco-related projects, including loans for development capital, renewable energy projects, equipment and vehicle purchase, sustainable trade, as well as the newly launched environmentally-friendly renovation loans, with a simple aim to help SMEs manage their cash flow.
SMEs that have already implemented innovative green solutions to tackle environmental challenges can also apply for DBS Foundation’s Business for Impact Grant Award, which provides grants of up to S$250,000 to scale up SMEs and their positive impacts.
At a time where higher costs are pushing businesses to deprioritise their ESG efforts, DBS’ range of financing options can be the lifeline to SMEs looking to bolster their sustainability journey.
By helping SMEs to “Finance Better”, these businesses can focus on their cause, not their cost in today’s economic environment.
DBS recognises the importance of businesses to be sustainable, as such, it provides a suite of tool kits under its “Track Better” pillar to help you assess your business’ readiness and sustainability maturity.
With DBS’ ESG Self-Assessment tool, SMEs can obtain a comprehensive analysis on their state of readiness and receive actionable recommendations to address your challenges in sustainability.
DBS is also currently in the process of rolling out an ESG Reporting tool, which can help businesses identify areas of improvement and streamline their ESG reporting and analytics.
It’s important for SMEs to stay on top of their sustainability game. With personalised recommendations from DBS’ suite of sustainability tools, SMEs can seamlessly identify and address their sustainability challenges.
Through these four key pillars, DBS hopes to equip SMEs with the resources they need, from knowledge to financing, to help them transform their businesses and adopt more sustainable and inclusive business models.
CW Aero Services leveraged DBS’ solutions to electrify Changi Airport
One business that has benefited from DBS’ sustainability framework is Singapore-based CW Aero Services, which provides equipment to support airports, airlines, ground handling companies, and aircraft maintenance companies to ensure aircrafts can take off on time, and are maintained to industry standards.
Julian Valette, the company’s co-founder and Managing Director, has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, and has personal ambitions to integrate sustainability into CW Aero Services to position it as a leader in the aerospace industry.
In line with this strategy, the company has decided to “electrify” Changi Airport and reduce carbon emissions produced around the airport. However, despite the promising foundation of the electrification plan, the execution of such a large-scale project presented significant challenges for CW Aero Services.
Julien shared that electrification involved the conversion of the equipments’ power sources from oil to electricity, which was not straightforward and very costly. This prompted them to turn to DBS to finance and power their sustainability journey.
DBS has been our bank for many years now, and they also supported us in our operations and development. We were very happy to hear that they were offering loans and facilities for sustainable projects.Julien Valette, co-founder and Managing Director, CW Aero Services
With DBS’ support, the company was able to obtain the capital needed to purchase and finance the shipping of equipment from overseas manufacturers, including Europe, to electrify Changi Airport. “The bank also helped us finance these assets when we went for leasing models,” added Julien.
He further acknowledged that throughout CW Aero Services’ airport electrification plan, the bank was “the driving force” that pushed them to go the extra mile in their sustainability efforts.
All in all, Julien affirmed that DBS was the key enabler throughout the implementation of CW Aero Services’ sustainability strategy. Looking ahead, the SME plans to electrify more airports across Southeast Asia and position itself as a key player in promoting the transition and transformation of industries toward better ESG practices.
Kickstart your ESG journey with DBS
With DBS’ support, many other SMEs like CW Aero Solutions can embark on their sustainability journey with ease. As the backbone of Singapore’s economy, it’s vital for SMEs to acquire sustainability capabilities in order to boost the city-state’s transition to a lower carbon society.
Adopting sustainable practices not only benefits the environment, but also drives business growth. From cutting down on operational expenses to boosting brand reputation and securing investment opportunities, the benefits of implementing ESG initiatives far outweigh their costs.
Through DBS’ support to drive greater sustainability adoption, SMEs will be empowered to navigate their ESG journey seamlessly and transition into a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible business model. No matter what stage you’re at in your sustainability journey, connect with DBS here today to explore sustainability solutions for your business.
This article was written in collaboration with DBS Bank.
Feature Image Credit: Dreamstime