Social Investment Landscape


Singapore is building on its strong business environment and international attractiveness to establish itself as a regional hub for impact investing, sustainable finance and green finance


Executive Summary

Despite its small land size, Singapore has consistently demonstrated exemplary economic performance, with GDP growth among the world’s highest at an average of 7.7% since independence. Due to its global connectivity, generous tax incentives and ease of doing business, it is one of the top foreign investment destinations in the region, ranking 5th for global foreign domestic investment (FDI) in 2017. Innovation also remains one of the country’s key priorities and strengths with Singapore ranked 3rd in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index. In 2018, Singapore start-ups raised USD 7.5 billion in funding and 75% of all start-up funding deals in Southeast Asia went through Singapore.

Climate change has always been an issue due to Singapore’s geographic landscape, size and location. Its rapidly ageing population similarly creates a new set of challenges relating to social security and health care amidst the steady decline of the total fertility rate. Improving social mobility across class divisions and reducing inequality, such as through the provision of quality education for all, are also key issues to be tackled.

As one of the regional hubs for financial investment and multinational corporations, Singapore’s social economy is noteworthy for its density of funders for social impact. Corporates are increasingly integrating sustainability into their business practices and are important supporters of social enterprises. International impact investors with operations in Southeast Asia often locate their offices in Singapore. Singapore-based family offices are also beginning to engage with the sector. Several initiatives have been launched recently to promote sustainable finance and green finance.

Singapore’s Fact File

Singapore’s 2018 Fact File

5.6 million


USD 527 billion


World Rank 38


GDP Growth

USD 93,905

Per capita GDP (PPP)

World Rank 4

30 28 in 2016

World Giving Index Rank

58% giving money. 25% volunteering time. 41% helping a stranger.


Number of Millionaires


Global Competitiveness Index

Global Competitiveness Rank (2016-2017) – 2/138


Ease of Doing Business Rank

Ease of Doing Business Rank (2018) – 2/190
Source: ADB, Charities Aid Foundation, Credit Suisse, World Economic Forum, World Bank. Figures are accurate as of March 2019


SDG Dashboard

Singapore’s strong economic growth has transformed it into a largely affluent society. Average wealth has more than doubled from 2000 to 2018, reaching USD 283,120 per adult. As of 2018, Singapore was 9th in the world in terms of household wealth, giving it the highest rank in Asia. However, this wealth is not shared equally between citizens, with Singapore’s self-calculated Gini coefficient of 0.356 after accounting for taxes and transfers placing it among the 10 OECD countries with the highest Gini coefficients in 2017. Concerns over inequality have also expanded to include Singapore’s declining productivity rate in recent years and the accessibility to quality preschool education and affordable health care.
To ensure that its national development is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Singapore established the Inter-Ministry Committee on SDGs(IMC-SDG) in 2018 to assess SDG implementation. Under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB), first launched in 2014, there are 5 focus areas:
  • An active and gracious community
  • Towards a Zero Waste Nation
  • “Eco Smart” Endearing Towns
  • A Leading Green Economy
  • A “Car-Lite” Singapore.
The SSB encourages Singaporeans to take ownership of the environment by maintaining green spaces, reducing reliance on private car transportation and engaging in conscientious consumerism. By integrating innovative design and technology into everyday spaces, SSB hopes that Singaporeans can interact with natural spaces in a sustainable way.

Source: (2018)

Note: The “traffic light” colour scheme (green,yellow, orange, red) illustrates how far a market is from achieving a particular goal

Government Initiatives

Government Initiatives to Address Development Gaps

Climate action

SDG Goals


  • In the 2018 Environmental Performance Index of 180 countries, Singapore ranks 49th overall and 134th for air quality.
  • In 2018, less than 3% of Singapore’s energy came from renewable sources.

Government Initiatives

  • Singapore implemented Southeast Asia’s first carbon tax in January 2019. Industrial facilities currently must pay SGD 5 (USD 3.60) per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions with plans to increase it to SGD 10-15 (USD 7.20-10.80) per tonne by 2030.
  • The government designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action. As one of its initiatives, Singapore reduced the growth allowance for private cars to zero in February 2018.

Education and employability

SDG Goals


  • In the 2015 Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) test, socioeconomic differences accounted for 17% of the variation in students’ science performance.

Government Initiatives

  • In 2017, the Ministry of Education announced it will manage 50 kindergartens in the next 5 years, an increase from 15, to better ensure children have access to quality preschool education.

Social protection

SDG Goals


  • Although there are no official government statistics on poverty, economists estimate that 10-14% of Singaporeans face severe financial problems and have difficulties meeting basic needs.
  • A 2015 study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy estimated that the poverty rate among the working elderly jumped from 13% in 1995 to 41% in 2011.

Government Initiatives

  • Nearly 500,000 of Singapore’s Merdeka Generation (those born in the 1950s) will benefit from a SGD 8 billion (USD 5.8 billion) health care support scheme starting in June 2019.
  • In 2018, the government committed to extend its Community Networks for Seniors pilot nationwide by 2020. This initiative provides greater social support for the elderly. The government also added SGD 400 million (USD 290 million) to 2 seniors-related community funds.

Social Economy

Singapore is building on its strong business environment and international attractiveness to establish itself as a regional hub for impact investing, sustainable finance and green finance


Deal Share in Singapore

Soristic is working on Charity Guidepoint, a giving tool for donors in Singapore to efficiently shortlist IPC charities, based on their passion and values while also functioning as an analytical tool for charities.


Orbis International trains, mentors, and inspires eye care professionals around the world. We are currently partnering with governments and hospitals in Vietnam to provide eye care to the most needy.

Education, Health

Mapsea Corp.’s job matching platform SEASON is a specialised marine recruitment platform, utilising technology to link marine jobs to the right talent. The returns generated will be directed towards building a marine forest.


At Gogreen Protec, we developed Protostatic Field Technology (PSF) to dis-bond almost all greenhouse gases, air pollutants and volatile organic compounds.

Climate Action and Environment, Health

Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)

By Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)

AWARE is Singapore’s leading gender equality group. Our mission is to remove all gender-based barriers and we do this in three ways: research and advocacy, education and training and support services.


LUUNA serves women and girls across Greater China by providing education and products that support healthier and more environmentally-conscious attitudes towards menstrual and hormonal health.

Gender, Health, Livelihood and Poverty Alleviation

Our solution enables medical professionals to monitor patients’ heart rhythms on a remote basis based on our wireless wearable devices and to diagnose arrhythmia more accurately with our AI analytics.

Ageing, Health

GenConnects and partners are developing an application for dementia assessment, aiming to help healthcare institutions save hundreds of hours on dementia assessments & providing accessibility for undiagnosed seniors at home.


Case Studies

Case Studies in Singapore

能力建设 — 星展银行基金会设计“三步走”项目以在亚洲发展社会企业

How the intermediary Empact provides pro-bono services and skills-based volunteering (SBV)

DBS Foundation’s design for a three-tier programme for developing social enterprises in Asia



More Market reports


Cambodia has an early-stage social economy with significant growth potential given increasing interest from social investors and intermediaries


China’s social economy is quickly maturing, with a high concentration of new wealth, a growing number of social investors and recent government commitments to create a conducive ecosystem

Hong Kong

The social economy in Hong Kong is growing rapidly with strong government support, a well-established philanthropic culture and increasing corporate sustainability efforts


The Indian social economy is one of the most advanced in Asia, driven by collaborative social investment, a relatively developed impact investing market and an engaged corporate sector


The Indonesian social economy is transitioning from being one largely based on a tradition of religious giving to one growing in its engagement with impact and sustainable investing and green finance


The social economy in Japan is one of the most mature in Asia driven by professionally managed foundations, increased interest from mainstream investors and innovative investment models


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Social Investment Landscape in Asia


Presence, size, and maturity of SEs



  • As of March 2018, there were 336 SEs supported by raiSE, but 73% reported annual turnover of less than SGD 200,000 (USD 145,000).
  • There were 2,263 registered charities with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in 2017.


SEs’ sectoral presence



  • SEs in Singapore operate in education, training, and health and wellness with intended outcomes of employment, education and skill development.



Philanthropic contributions



  • CFS, established in 2008, had received nearly SGD 100 million (USD 72.5 million) as of March 2018.
  • CFS and NVPC’s Colabs are fostering cross-sector collaboration and knowledge-sharing for targeted philanthropy efforts.


Managed funds



  • Singapore is a regional hub with many domestic and international institutional investors and family offices engaged with impact investing.
  • Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF) is a co-investment impact fund for high net worth families and investors led by UOB Venture Management and Credit Suisse.


Corporate sector



  • NVPC’s Company of Good programme to drive corporate giving lists 51 corporate members on its website since its founding in 2016.
  • Other corporate initiatives include SE support from Singtel and DBS Bank and the sustainability-linked loan by CapitaLand and DBS Bank.

Enablers and Intermediaries


Policy environment



  • Singapore provides the highest incentives for donations in the region with both individuals and corporates qualifying for 250% tax deductions on donations to IPCs.
  • raiSE provides financial and non-financial assistance to SEs and MAS has supported initiatives for sustainable finance and green finance.


Incubators, accelerators, and capacity-builders



  • There are numerous incubation and accelerator programmes, such as Singapore International Foundation (SIF)’s Young Social Entrepreneurs programme and Impact Hub Singapore. Singtel Future Makers and DBS support SEs and also provide funding.


Networks and platforms



  • Numerous platforms have been established to support stakeholder engagement in the social economy, such as NVPC Company for Good, ASFI and A4S.


Knowledge and research



  • Several Singapore universities conduct research on the social economy and offer SE courses, such as the Singapore Management University, NUS Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP), Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Social Sciences.
  • Other examples of SE courses include SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs programme and the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme.





  • Singapore has introduced several innovative finance mechanisms such as the world’s first sovereign water bond and IIX and DBS Bank’s listed social sustainability bond.
  • DBS Bank and CapitaLand introduced the first sustainability-linked loan in Asia’s real estate sector.