By Sim Ping Khuan

SINGAPORE : A growing variety of funding options are now available to social enterprises.

In Singapore, these businesses with social missions are now getting easier access to bank loans with preferential rates and other funding options.

Since starting four years ago, Singapore-based Adrenalin Events and Education has been committed to employing the disadvantaged.

About 30 per cent of the the firm’s staff either have physical challenges or are youths from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

The social enterprise has been on the lookout for funding options to balance its social mission and grow its business.

Richardo Chua, managing director of Adrenalin Events and Education, said: “Now we are realising how do we get out of this first stage of growth into the second stage of growth, and that is where investors, banks, financial institutions can come in and say, ‘This is an area we want to support you with, here is an investment, here is a loan, here is a product that can help you.'”

With over 80 per cent of social enterprises in Singapore as its customers, Singapore’s largest banking group, DBS, has unveiled an enhanced banking package to remove some barriers to entry.

These business are now not required to maintain a minimum monthly account balance.

Preferential loan rates will also be offered to them.

Lim Chu Chong, head of enterprise banking at DBS Group, said: “As a bank, we could help in terms of the very basic banking, that is why we came up with a social enterprise package. We have plans to put capital into some of these promising social enterprises, both at the start-up stage and to take them further.”

Meanwhile, organisations such as Impact Investment Exchange Asia are stepping in to match interested investors with suitable social enterprises.

En Lee, director for Impact Partners at Impact Investment Exchange Asia, said: “Many family offices and high net worth individuals that have been doing philanthropy through grant-based models are now considering going into impact investing because it is more sustainable, it is transparent, and hopefully, there is better efficiency of capital.”

The firm is currently in talks with regulators to introduce a “social stock exchange” by the end of the year to allow social enterprises to raise capital in a traditional capital market setting.