Once a British colonial trading post, Singapore today is a thriving global financial hub and is described as one of Asia’s economic “tigers.” This densely-populated high-income city state has maintained exemplary economic performance. In 2016, it ranked the best investment destination in Asia. For several years, the country has taken up the runners-up spot in being adjudged the easiest country to do business in the world. It also ranked 6th on the Global Innovation Index in 2016.

The island nation’s population consists of around 74% Chinese, 13% Malays and 9% Indians. By 2020, Singapore is expected to have a total of 188,000 millionaires — which means that 1 in 30 Singaporeans will be a millionaire, signifying high potential for individual philanthropy.

After gaining independence in 1963, Singapore has rapidly transformed from a low-income country to a high-income country by virtue of its trade and workforce. In the early 1970s, Singapore reached full employment and joined the ranks of Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan a decade later as Asia’s newly industrialising countries. Manufacturing and services sectors remain strong and are the twin pillars of Singapore’s economy.

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Singapore’s 2017 Fact File

World Giving Index Rank

2016
28 34 in 2015
  • 58%giving money
  • 23%volunteering time
  • 50%helping a stranger

Population

2016
5.8 million

GDP (PPP)

2016
USD 492.6 billion World Rank 40

Per capita GDP (PPP)

2016
USD 87,855 World Rank 3

Global Competitiveness Index

2016
2 2 in 2015

Number of Millionaires

2015
142,000 2.45% of population

Source: CIA, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF, 2016), Credit Suisse (2016), OECD (2016), World Economic Forum (WEF, 2016), World Bank (2017)

Economic Context for Investors

  • Favourable
  • Moderately favourable
  • Unfavourable
Factors Index Score/Rank Description
GDP Growth 2016
Index Score/Rank
1.7%
The economy advanced 1.7% in 2016, lower than the 2% growth in 2015. In 2017, GDP growth is projected to be between 2 and 2.5%.
Governance 2015
Index Score/Rank
1.6
Singapore ranked above 95% of all the countries in the 2015 World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators.
Consumer Market 2015
Index Score/Rank
USD 123 billion
Consumer spending increased by 4% from 2014 to 2015. While Singapore’s growth prospects have improved in 2017, consumption growth is forecast to remain subdued.
Labour Force 2016
Index Score/Rank
3 million
The national workforce increased by 1.6% from 2015 to 2016. Singapore will see a continued slowdown of local labour force growth or even stagnation in the next decade according to the Ministry of Manpower.
Infrastructure 2016
Index Score/Rank
6.5
Singapore ranked second among 138 countries in terms of infrastructure in the 2016 WEF’s Global Competitiveness ranking.
Financial Access 2014
Index Score/Rank
96% of population
Singapore registered a 96% account ownership in 2014, significantly higher than the East Asia and Pacific’s average of 69%.
Digital Access 2015
Index Score/Rank
82% of the population
Internet penetration increased by 3% from 2014 to 2015. The mobile cellular subscription rate is high at 146.5 per 100 inhabitants.
Ease of Doing Business 2016
Index Score/Rank
2/190
Singapore’s Ease of Doing Business rank improved slightly from 3rd in 2015 to 2nd in 2016. Factors contributing to the enabling business environment in Singapore include its location as a major distribution and logistics hub and gateway to the ASEAN region, lack of corruption, favourable tax codes, strong intellectual property protection and an English-speaking population.
  • Favourable
  • Moderately favourable
  • Unfavourable

SDG Dashboard

While Singapore is one of the largest financial centres in the world with a high standard of living, it is faced with the challenges of rapid urbanisation and high population density. Increased demand for scarce natural resources such as land and water is likely to put upward pressure on commodity prices as Singapore is highly dependent on imports. Further, Singapore’s rapidly ageing population necessitates more efficient healthcare delivery and resource use. Strengthening enterprise capabilities, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, improving environmental sustainability and harnessing healthcare innovations are some of the key policy priorities outlined by the Committee on the Future Economy in February 2017.

  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate Action
  • Life Below Water
  • Life On Land
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • Partnerships for the Goals
  • Sustainable Development Goals

Source: sdgindex.org (2016)

Government Focus on Development Gaps

Focus Area SDG Goals Gap Government Focus
Climate action
SDG Goals
  • Climate Action
Gap
The country is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, higher temperatures, more pronounced dry seasons and more intense rainfall. While Singapore contributes about 0.11% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, in 2015 it ranked 26 out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita due to its small size and high population density.
Government Focus
The Singapore government’s Climate Action Plan 2016 focuses on energy efficiency and sustainable urban design. 95% of the electricity is generated by natural gas.19 By 2015, there were a total of 636 solar PV installations across Singapore with a combined grid-connected capacity of 25.5 MW.20 Singapore plans to introduce a carbon tax in 2019, and has steadily been incentivising electric vehicles. Additionally, through its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), Singapore aims to reduce its emissions intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth
SDG Goals
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
Gap
With a 2.2% share of R&D expenditure in total GDP, Singapore ranked 12th worldwide in 2014, lagging many other industrialised economies. Labour productivity growth in domestically-oriented sectors has been significantly lower at 0.8% per annum compared to 5.3% for export-oriented sectors between 2009-2014.
Government Focus
The Innovation & Capability Voucher supports SMEs to improve business efficiency and productivity. The Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme provides tax credits on actual innovations and other innovation-related activities such as training, the acquisition of intellectual property rights and R&D activities.
Social security
SDG Goals
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Reduced Inequalities
Gap
The number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is projected to double to 900,000, which means 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be in that age group. Low fertility rate at 1.2 in 2016 further accelerates the pace of ageing.
Government Focus
In 2016, the Ministerial Committee on Ageing introduced the national plan to support elderly Singaporeans. Key policy measures and programmes include: enhancing lifelong employability, National Seniors’ Health Programme, workplace health programme targeting mature workers aged 40 and above, doubling the number of community hospital beds, increasing nursing home capacity by more than 70%, increasing home and community care places by 50% and 100% respectively and transforming Singapore into a senior-friendly city.

Social Economy

Singapore is Asia’s new social innovation hub driven by active government support and a vibrant ecosystem consisting of social investors, universities, platforms and enablers.

There are 400 SEs in Singapore.

Category Factor Rating Description
SPOs
Factor
Legislative environment
three-quarter Singapore is one of the easiest countries to do business. SEs can adopt both for-profit and non-profit structures.
SPOs
Factor
Government support for SEs
full The government has been active in fostering the country’s social economy. The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), funded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Tote Board, provides financial and non-financial support to qualified SEs. Other government-supported organisations initiatives include NVPC for volunteerism, philanthropy and corporate engagement and Global Compact Network Singapore in CSR. The government also offers tax incentives for corporate philanthropic contributions as well as established matching grant platforms for individual giving such as SHARE as One.
SPOs
Factor
SEs across sectors
three-quarter SEs in Singapore operate across a wide array of sectors ranging from healthcare, education and training, environment, finance and insurance to art and culture. Their areas of impact centre around creating employment opportunities and empowering the disadvantaged.
SPOs
Factor
Presence, size, and maturity of SEs
three-quarter There are over 400 SEs supported by raiSE. While social entrepreneurship is still at early stages, Singapore is poised to become a regional hub for SEs.
Investors
Factor
Philanthropic contributions
full In a society with an entrenched culture of giving, family foundations form the bedrock of grant-making in Singapore. Notable ones are Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, Lien Foundation, Lee Foundation, Tsao Foundation and Goh Foundation, which are evolving to adopt strategic and venture philanthropic approaches.
Investors
Factor
Presence of social investors
full Many international impact investors are based in Singapore such as LGT IV, Bamboo Finance, Omidyar Network, East Ventures and LeapFrog Investments. Notable local social investors include raiSE and DBS Foundation.
Investors
Factor
Corporate sector
three-quarter The Global Compact Network Singapore has more than 300 corporate members as of 2015. CSR is moving towards integrating ESG into business operations.
Enablers
Factor
Incubators, accelerators, and capacity-builders
full There has been a proliferation of hackathons, incubation and accelerator programmes covering various issues, locally and regionally, such as Singapore International Foundation (SIF)’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE), SG Enable on disabilities, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) on ageing, Singtel Future Makers, Tech For Good, Pact Incubators, among others.
Enablers
Factor
Networks and platforms
full Networks and platforms operating in Singapore include: AVPN, SIF, BoP Hub, Family Business Network Asia, Toniic, CSR Asia and Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SVCA).
Enablers
Factor
Knowledge and research
full Various publications on the Singapore’s social economy have been released by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, NUS Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP), AVPN, National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), Tsao Foundation, Singapore Management University, Republic Polytechnic, INSEAD (Singapore) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS – formerly UniSIM).
Enablers
Factor
Partnerships
three-quarter The Singapore Economic Development Board launched the International Organisations Programme Office in 2005 to create a vibrant cluster of international non-profit organisations (INPOs) which will not only use Singapore as a base for regional operations, but to foster a healthy partnership ecosystem with local charities and SEs There are currently around 140 INPOs, including the World Bank Group, Conservation International and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Enablers
Factor
Impact Measurement
three-quarter There is evidence of organisations conducting impact assessment using standards such as IRIS and SROI.

partnership Partnership Opportunity

Demand, Supply and Support Ecosystem in Singapore

Case Studies in Singapore

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by DBS Foundation

公益创投活动的核心是同获得融资的组织建立一种紧密的关系。其通常形式是对社会机构进行能力建设。理想情况下,社会投资者或资源提供者所提供的内容与社会机构所需要的内容恰好吻合。社会机构的需求来自于其内在的衡量标准和外部环境。内部标准包括该组织的发展阶段、管理团队、组织的公益任务、商业模式和成长规划等。而外部环境则涵括了创业的生态环境,国家的经济阶段以及政府的角色。社会投资者在支持能力建设上拥有的内部能力各不相同,因此需要以全额付费、低付费或免费的方式引入第三方供应商。这就要求公益创投组织对第三方的互动进行管理。

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Capacity building through a variety of tools which aims to create real value for the social purpose organisation.

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