Speech by DPM and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) Company of Good Fellowship Networking Dinner 2019 on 21 August 2019 at the Enabling Village.
Mrs Mildred Tan
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to the NVPC Company of Good Fellowship networking dinner.
It is especially meaningful that this dinner is held here at the Enabling Village – an inclusive space where people with special needs are accepted for who they are, and are valued for their contributions.
The Enabling Village is also a community – a collective of over 20 organisations that serve, and are supported by, people with special needs.
The Company of Good was launched by NVPC back in 2016 to bring corporate giving to the next level. The objective was to empower companies to give back in ways that benefit both their business and the community.
Over a short span of three years, the Company of Good has developed into a network of over 1,300 companies. This network has enabled companies to learn from one another, form partnerships and collaborate on projects together.
Among them, some companies have made significant contributions, and have worked with other companies to make a greater impact. These companies have been conferred as Champions of Good, and I had the privilege of gracing the past two conferment ceremonies.
NVPC also started the Company of Good Fellowship, to nurture and bring together a pool of leaders like yourselves who share the common goal of driving more holistic and impactful corporate giving. There are 107 Fellows from 74 companies today. Through networking sessions such as this, Fellows share best practices and identify opportunities to work together for the common good. Let me share two examples amongst all the good work.
The first is the partnership between Samsui Supplies and Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), which will be launched later tonight.
This new initiative will train persons with disabilities for jobs in the F&B sector. These individuals will undergo training for six months, at a commercial kitchen right here in the Enabling Village.
I just toured the commercial kitchen. It is an impressive facility that is very conducive for learning. In fact, the dinner we will be enjoying tonight will be cooked from this kitchen! I sampled the food - it’s indeed good! I also just met a mother who was with her daughter in the kitchen. She shared that over just four months, her daughter has made tremendous progress in her skills and social development. She is assured that her daughter is learning skills and able to earn her own salary in future. So this is the impact of what you do.
This initiative is a collective effort by multiple stakeholders.
Samsui Supplies contributes its extensive F&B expertise and experience to train the trainees.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) contributes funding for equipment retrofits and training modules.
SG Enable, which operates Enabling Village, provides career counselling support for the trainees.
Upon completion of training, F&B operators under Samsui Supplies’ group, such as Soup Restaurant, provide jobs for these trainees.
The partnership between Samsui Supplies and SCB builds on an existing collaboration – where they set up a commercial kitchen at Changi Prison to provide F&B training for inmates and free meals for the vulnerable and elderly. I am glad to see that the partnership between Samsui Supplies and SCB has now been taken to a new level.
The second example is a partnership between Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, and REACH Youth Services. Staff of Fullerton Hotels and Resorts were part of the Company of Good Fellowship’s very first intake back in 2017. Fullerton engaged REACH Youth Services to collaborate with them.
In 2018, Fullerton Hotels and Resorts launched The Fullerton Academy, a corporate social responsibility programme. The Academy equips underprivileged youths to pick up hospitality skills through a series of workshops over nine months.
Fullerton provides hospitality expertise, while REACH Youth Services co-create the curriculum to inculcate the right values and skills. Fullerton staff also help to mentor the youths and guide them.
At the end of the programme, selected youths are given internship opportunities at Fullerton Hotels and Resorts. I am glad to know that this programme has benefitted about 60 youths since its launch.
I have shared two examples. All of you have also showed us how we can give back to society – not only by donating monies, but also by contributing experience and expertise, and working together with other companies. Through this process, companies can also encourage their staff to actively volunteer for these initiatives, and as part of the wider SG Cares national movement.
There is certainly room for our companies to do much more. Based on the 2017 NVPC Corporate Giving Survey, only 52% of companies are involved in corporate giving. But I am heartened to know that another 31% said that they are keen to start. This is a good sign. For almost all of us in this room, our companies are already actively giving back to society. I hope you can reach out to other companies,
To encourage those who have not done so to start their giving journeys and join the Company of Good;
To partner them in your giving efforts, especially the smaller companies, which on their own may not have the capabilities and experience to do so;
To inspire those that are already active to become Champions of Good.
The spirit of companies giving back to society has always been part of our history. As we commemorate our Bicentennial this year, we are reminded of the many instances where companies, organisations and individuals stepped up to contribute to our society and nation-building.
At Budget this year, I announced the Bicentennial Community Fund. This Fund provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations made to Institutions of Public Character (IPCs). This is on top of the 250% tax deduction that companies enjoy for donations made to IPCs.
Beyond donations, we also have the Business and IPC Partnership Scheme, where companies can apply for a 250% tax deduction on qualifying costs when their employees volunteer at IPCs.
We hope that such support from Government can spur companies to build a stronger giving culture.
In conclusion, the Company of Good is a shining example of how we can build our future Singapore together –
With each company contributing their skills, time and money;
Not working alone, but in partnership with others;
Bringing your staff along with you in this journey of giving; and
Improving the lives of those around us, regardless of race, religion or background.
Once again, thank you to NVPC and to all of you for being part of the Company of Good Fellowship. I wish you a fruitful networking dinner.
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