India, 13 September 2023 – DBS unveiled its metaverse concept for DBS BetterWorld, a gamified adventure to demonstrate how the metaverse can be leveraged as a force for good.

The virtual experience highlights the global food waste challenge and what Businesses for Impact, supported by the DBS Foundation, are doing to address the issue. According to the United Nations, one-third of all food produced in the world – or an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes – is wasted each year. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that ~40% of the food produced in India is wasted every year due to a fragmented and ineffective supply chain. This not only decreases nutritional security but also results in income losses for farmers.

To help address this issue, DBS launched its Towards Zero Food Waste initiative in 2020 to rally its employees, customers, communities, and the public to collectively create a more food-resilient future. As at the end of 2022, the initiative has generated over 2,000 tonnes of total food impact, which includes food waste reduced, food recycled, and food redistributed.

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director and Head of Group Strategic Marketing and Communications at DBS Bank India, said, ” DBS is dedicated to creating a larger impact beyond banking to build resilient and food-secure communities while contributing to environmental sustainability. We continue to harness the power of technology and innovation, tapping into the potential of the metaverse. Through DBS BetterWorld, we aim to drive awareness about pressing issues like food waste and create unique engagement opportunities. This closely aligns with DBS Foundation’s focus on championing social enterprises that bridge gaps within food and agricultural value chains. We are excited to see how this initiative scales and paves the way for a more sustainable future.

Cognisant of its responsibility to society as a purpose-driven bank, DBS gives back to the community and empowers social entrepreneurs and impact organisations to create positive change. Since 2014, the DBS Foundation has been committed to uplifting lives and livelihoods by igniting change in businesses and communities.

To date, the DBS Foundation has nurtured over 800 businesses for impact in Asia, with some 100 of these awarded grant funding totalling over SGD 13 million through its annual Grant Award. The DBS Foundation Business for Impact chapter now catalyses the growth of innovative, purpose-driven businesses, including SMEs, designed to address pressing issues facing our planet and society. The Grant Award recipients from 2022 are projected to collectively benefit more than two million lives and livelihoods across Asia and reduce over 100,000 tonnes of food waste by end of 2024. Three Indian startups- Neomotion Assistive Solutions, Saathi Eco Innovations, and Urdhvam Environmental Technologies were among the recipients of the grant last year.

Additionally, DBS Bank India awarded grants of INR 44 lakh each to five Indian startups, totalling to INR 2.2 crores – under the program ‘Techtonic – Innovations Towards Zero Food Waste’, which will help the startups scale up and deploy their products in the food and agri sector.

In 2022, the DBS Foundation raised the bar with the formation of a new Community Impact chapter to equip the underserved with digital and financial literacy to face the future with confidence and enable communities to be more food secure and resilient. It committed SGD 5.6 million in funding to support 10 inaugural programmes across all the bank’s core markets of Singapore, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

As part of the community impact chapter initiatives, DBS Foundation partnered with Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions (HESPL) to launch a financial literacy and social entitlements programme aimed at supporting marginalised citizens in rural and urban India. The programme aims to educate 2,00,000 beneficiaries, with 70% being women, to build their digital and financial capacity while facilitating access to public welfare entitlements.

In August 2023, DBS announced that it will commit up to SGD 1 billion over the next 10 years to improve lives and livelihoods of the low-income and underprivileged and foster a more inclusive society. DBS will deploy SGD 100 million each year in Singapore and its other key markets with effect from 2024, augmenting existing community initiatives by the bank and DBS Foundation. In addition, the bank’s 36,000-strong workforce will commit over 1.5 million volunteer hours over the next decade to give back to society.

As part of the virtual experience offered by DBS BetterWorld, players must complete a series of activities inspired by five Businesses[1] for Impact supported by the DBS Foundation[2] and their unique approach to mitigating food waste:

● Brewerkz – a craft beer maker based in Singapore, Brewerkz is focused on upcycling brewers’ spent grains, a by-product of beer-making that is often discarded in the industry today, into food products.

● Breer – a food upcycling startup based in Hong Kong, Breer collects surplus bread from bakeries and restaurants and uses it to brew craft beer.

● GreenPrice – based in Hong Kong, GreenPrice specialises in selling food that is close to or just past their “best before” date, helping eliminate food waste while making food more accessible to low-income households.

● Edible Garden City – operating out of Singapore, Edible Garden City champions the grow-our-own-food movement by making soil-based urban farming and edible gardening more accessible to city dwellers.

● Rooftop Republic – based in Hong Kong, Rooftop Republic transforms underutilised and unconventional spaces in the territory, such as disused helipads, into urban farms.

DBS BetterWorld will be accessible to the public once The Sandbox’s Alpha Season 4[3] is launched.