Thursday 14 November 2013

SBF sets up foundation to boost corporate activism

It will also promote the causes of disadvantaged workers, needy youth
By Alvin Foo, The Straits Times, 13 Nov 2013
A FOUNDATION to spur philanthropy within the local business community was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Already, $18 million in donations has poured in from some of corporate Singapore's "who's who" to get the new foundation going. The goal is $30 million.

Called the SBF Foundation, the new body also aims to champion the welfare of low-wage, elderly and other disadvantaged workers.

It will also promote education and enhance the employability of needy and underprivileged youth.

The launch was held at the Pan Pacific Singapore hotel, witnessed by about 120 government and business community representatives.

The idea for the foundation was mooted by Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chairman Tony Chew. He said yesterday: "It is no longer just the economic bottom line that companies are seeking, but the triple bottom line: economic, social and environmental."

He added: "Through the SBF Foundation, we hope to spur corporate activism among our members and the wider business community."

The foundation's board will be chaired by Mrs Theresa Foo, who also chairs the boards of the Esplanade and Gardens by the Bay.

Other directors include Wing Tai Holdings chairman Cheng Wai Keung, Pontiac Land managing director Kwee Liong Keng, MP Foo Mee Har, KPMG deputy managing partner Peter Chay, DP Architects founder Koh Seow Chuan and Straits Law Practice managing director N. Sreenivasan.

The foundation will start by partnering the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) to raise awareness of the importance and avenues of corporate giving, and help companies go about developing sustainable programmes, said Mrs Theresa Foo.

She also revealed that funds will be given to the Institute of Technical Education for 150 students to embark on their overseas industrial attachment programme over the next two years. This programme sees students undergoing overseas work and training related to their studies for about three to four weeks.

Property developer Far East Organization has donated 22,000 sq ft of space at the upcoming SBF Center to the foundation. Due to be ready in late 2016, the SBF Center is a 31-storey project in Robinson Road. Far East chief executive Philip Ng said: "We can contribute to our nation by developing functional space for non-profit or not-for-profit usage. The space donated also becomes an asset of enduring value for the receiving charity."

The foundation's key founding donors include Far East's Mr Ng, Mr Stephen Riady of the Stephen Riady Foundation, Mr and Mrs Tony Chew of Asia Resource Corp, RSP Architects Planners and Engineers' Mr Albert Hong, Tanoto Foundation's Mr Sukanto Tanoto and Wilmar International's Mr Kuok Khoon Hong. Mr Riady called the foundation an "important and timely initiative for the business sector to contribute towards building a strong and inclusive society in Singapore".

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