Launch of DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015


19 JANUARY 2015

Launch of DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia 2015

Seed fund for winners increased to SGD 150,000 to spur ideas that can create greater social impact

Singapore, 19 January 2015 – Into its second year, the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia (SVC Asia) is offering SGD 150,000 of seed fund to the winners of the challenge, in commemoration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence. The increased funding, from last year’s SGD 55,000, also encourages participants to submit ideas that demonstrate greater scalability and potential for sustainable social impact.

The challenge, jointly organised by NUS Enterprise and DBS Foundation, aims to identify and support new social ventures as well as raise awareness of social entrepreneurship in Asia. The inaugural SVC Asia saw over 400 innovative social venture ideas from teams across 20 countries.

Through SVC Asia 2015, budding social entrepreneurs across Asia will gain access to a comprehensive regional portal over the next five months to learn how to develop their ideas into scalable and sustainable social ventures. In addition to the online portal, participants in various Asian countries can also benefit from a series of workshops and networking events organised by SVC Asia and its network of local community partners. Through these events, they can connect and team up with like-minded peers. They will also receive advice and mentoring from experienced social entrepreneurs, impact investors and industry experts.

SVC Asia will also host a series of public workshops to help raise awareness about social entrepreneurship and generate support for social enterprises.

“This year, to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday, we increased the prize monies for the winners of the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia to SGD 150,000. The top three teams will each receive SGD 100,000, SGD 30,000 and SGD 20,000 respectively. The total purse of SGD 150,000, which will be awarded in the form of seed funding, is the highest for a competition of this nature in Asia. We believe that social enterprises are a force for good and hope that this year’s SVC Asia will fire up many socially minded individuals and ignite sparks of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Karen Ngui, Head of DBS Group Strategic Marketing & Communications and Board Member of the DBS Foundation.

“For the inaugural year of the challenge, we received many inspiring ideas that can help shape the future of sectors such as healthcare, the environment and education. SVC Asia serves as a key platform for local capacity builders across Asia to support social entrepreneurship. All finalists will be connected to our impact partners for potential post-competition support, such as mentorship, incubation and meeting with impact investors and other funding sources,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, Director NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, which is part of NUS Enterprise.

The winners of the SVC Asia will receive the seed fund in stages upon the launch of their social ventures. Submissions will close end 25 March 2015, and twelve semi-finalist teams will be selected to come to Singapore in early June for a final round of coaching and pitching, culminating in a Final Awards Ceremony. Please refer to Annex 1 for Timeline and Annex 2 for Judging Criteria.

Previous winners

This is the second year of the SVC Asia. Last year’s winners have gone on to make several achievements:

1) Zaya Learning Labs (2014 grand prize winner) received a seed round of investment from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund and an angel investor. In the last year, Zaya Learning Labs has increased its presence in three cities in India, reaching over 20 schools and 2,500 students. Zaya Learning Labs was set up in 2013, developing educational tech solutions for low-income schools in India. They plan to use their new investment and partnership with Pearson (the world’s largest learning company) to increase its impact to learners at the bottom-of-the-pyramid.

2) Bodhi Health Education (2014 second runner up) received USD 50,000 in funding from the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship and Village Capital, after completing its four month accelerator programme, called Last mile Startup. Bodhi Health Education provides medical education to frontline community health workers, who serve the bottom of the pyramid populations in India. This injection of funds will help Bodhi Health Education to improve living standards of the rural population.

3) Local Alike (2014 second runner up) won Thailand’s AIS start-up contest, under the Social Business category, coming top of some 200 participating teams. Local Alike promotes community-based tourism, and has partnered with AIS, Thailand’s leading telco, to install internet networks within various rural communities in Thailand. They now work with 15 communities, and with first round investment from ChangeVenture, they plan to expand their platform by another 14 communities in 7 countries throughout South East Asia.

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Media enquiries should be directed to:

Chan Yiu Lin (Ms)

Greener Grass Communications (For NUS Enterprise)


Mobile: (65) 9765-5897

Fen Peh

Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank


Mobile: (65) 9278-0089

About DBS Foundation

As the only corporate foundation in Asia solely dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, DBS Foundation contributes towards building a more inclusive society so that those at society’s margins can enjoy productive and rewarding lives. DBS Foundation works with Social Enterprises and Social Entrepreneurs in Singapore, India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong with programmes ranging from basic training & workshops to intensive incubation, project grant support, forums for knowledge sharing and senior management mentoring. The Foundation is an endeavor from DBS Bank to make an even greater impact in addressing Asia’s evolving social needs.

For more information, please visit:

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 26 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

For more information, please visit

NUS Enterprise

NUS Enterprise is a University-level cluster that provides an enterprise dimension to NUS teaching and research involving the University’s students, staff and alumni. The functions of the Enterprise Cluster complement the academic cluster of the University to nurture talents with an entrepreneurial and global mindset. NUS Enterprise promotes the spirit of innovation and enterprise through Experiential Education, Industry Engagement & Partnerships and Entrepreneurship Support.

Annex 1 –DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia 2015 Timeline



15 January

Applications for DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia open

7 February

Workshop on “A purpose-driven approach to business model design”

13 February

Social enterprise talk by Dr Tomohiro Hamakawa of Kopernik


Overseas Social Enterprise workshops in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China

25 March

Deadline for teams to submit their application form and a two-minute video pitch

11 May

Confirmation of 12 semi-finalists

22 May

Deadline for semi-finalists to submit business plans online, followed by judging


Mentoring and coaching for all semi-finalists. (Overseas semi-finalists will be flown into Singapore)

Judging for the semi-finals and finals of the Social Venture Challenge Asia competition

Announcement of the Social Venture Challenge Asia 2015 winner and Awards Ceremony

Annex 2 – Judging Criteria

The DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia is an Asia-wide competition for social enterprises that is open to the public. It has three rounds of judging. The first round of judging is done based on teams’ online submissions, in order to select the semi-finalists. The second and final rounds of judging are done in Singapore for the semi-finalists and finalists. Teams will need to pitch to a panel of judges. The judging criteria are based upon:

1. Compelling Value Proposition

  • Clearly-defined, technically feasible solution for an identified need/social problem
  • Innovation in product, service or business model
  • Clear market position and differentiation from competitors
  • Evidence of validation of the identified need/ social problem and solution

2. Social Impact

  • High-impact social value proposition (depth and breadth)
  • Engagement with community to solve the social problem
  • Feasible plan to measure and evaluate social impact
  • Alignment of social value proposition with the business model; impact scales as business scales

3. Market potential

  • Viable addressable market size
  • Clear identification of target customers and intended beneficiaries and how to reach them
  • Scalable in terms of geography and solution, or across industries

4. Economic & Financial Model

  • Feasible and realistic commercial model and funding plan
  • Realistic financial projections for venture’s operations
  • Realistic road map to financial sustainability

5. Team strength

  • Members demonstrate entrepreneurial ability to adapt
  • Demonstration of knowledge and understanding of target community
  • Identification of key gaps in talent/ experience and plans to fill these gaps
Impact Assessment
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