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Long-term involvement a key theme
PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS (PwC), a network of professional services firms, has long placed an emphasis on local communities through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
For its recent Banda Goes Digital initiative in 2017, the company set up an area called the Connect Hub for underprivileged residents at Banda Street to have access to computers and also provided free WiFi access for them at the Hub.
The residents - who are mostly elderly - had fun at a digital-themed carnival, trying out a host of electronic games.
This was one in a long line of CSR initiatives by PwC in Singapore, whose CSR efforts first began in 2004 through its partnership with local charity Child@Street11.
Building on from such early efforts, PwC has gone on to develop partnerships with a number of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities. Of these, initiatives like Banda Goes Digital come under PwC Singapore's Banda Street Project; a flagship community outreach programme of the company. Flagship programmes are focused on long-term engagement with beneficiaries.
"Since 2008, we have continued to engage with the Banda Street community yearly," says Charlotte Hsu, corporate responsibility leader, PwC Singapore.
"Many of our staff frequent the eateries around the Banda Street area; and in 2008, a team within PwC decided to engage with the less fortunate in the neighbouring Chinatown area, which is in close proximity to PwC Building," Ms Hsu adds.
To understand the needs of the community better, PwC worked with the estate's Residents' Committee to gain a better sense of the immediate needs of the community and how PwC could best lend a helping hand.
The response from its staff was strong from the onset. In its first year, the company rallied almost 200 staff to assemble and deliver standing fans and goodie bags to more than 800 residents, says Ms Hsu.
"Over the past 10 years, a variety of drives and initiatives have been held by PwC for the residents ranging from hosting community parties, distributing goodie bags, to replacing old mattresses and light bulbs for the elderly residents living there," she adds.
A recent initiative has extended beyond those realms. In 2015, PwC embarked on the painting of murals depicting the lives of the pioneer generation of Singaporeans.
PwC Singapore's initiatives are not only local in reach. The company also works with the YMCA to organise a range of Overseas Community Projects (OCP) to reach out to other communities in the region.
"In OCPs, PwC staff give up their time and expertise to help out the less fortunate communities through a variety of activities such as the sharing of skills and helping to enhance the infrastructure," Ms Hsu says.
On top of carrying out drives aimed at helping the underprivileged, the firm has also worked with other partners such as the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) for a platform for companies to share their CSR experiences with other corporates.
"We also work with corporates with a similar mission, and explore ways in which we can partner other corporates to work together on projects," Ms Hsu says.
These initiatives with NVPC also include the organisation of seminars for charities to help upskill and upgrade management and operators of charities. Such programmes fall under PwC's Skills Based Volunteering (SBV) programme.
"SBV programmes provide our staff with a platform to impart relevant skills to charities and NGOs which can include conducting accounting and taxation training for finance staff," Ms Hsu says.
In addition to the company's annual initiatives, PwC plans to scale up its efforts to hold seminars for charities in Singapore.
"We are also engaging residents' committees of other estates to explore helping the less fortunate and elderly in other parts of Singapore," Ms Hsu concludes.
- This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information.