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COMPANY OF GOOD

StarHub: In the business of answering society's call for help

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Among other things, StarHub has donated 1,037 wheelchairs to 34 charity organisations and subsidised assistive technology and rehab therapy for children from the Society for the Physically Disabled.

Singapore

SINCE entering the industry as the third telecommunications company in Singapore, StarHub has aimed at differentiating itself by giving back to the community.

Said chief strategic partnership officer Jeannie Ong: "There are many in our community who need a helping hand, and there is also an urgent need to minimise harm to our environment."

StarHub first started giving back when it launched an IDD Empowerment Fund when it began business in 2000. The fund contributed one per cent of the company's IDD revenue towards helping the less privileged.

Renaming it the Sparks Fund in 2006, StarHub has helped society's less fortunate by donating 1,037 wheelchairs to 34 charity organisations as well as subsidising assistive technology and rehabilitation therapy for children from the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD).

"When we meet and interact with our beneficiaries, we want to get to know them and their needs - not just give a cheque," said Ms Ong.

StarHub believes in empowering individuals and has carried out initiatives like the Nurture Programme that has helped children from the Central Community Development Council (CDC). The programme helps children from low-income families by providing them with enrichment classes that supplement their learning and encourage them to do well in school.

"The outcome has been positive as they have seen an improvement in grades," said Ms Ong. "We want to equip them with skills that will benefit them in life and empower them to do more."

In 2013, StarHub sponsored office skills training programmes at SPD's Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC). The programme, known as IAC Certificate in Office Skills (ICOS), aims to improve the employability of people with disabilities, giving them more opportunities to return to the workforce.

StarHub donated S$200,000 to SPD that will cover the course fees for 72 participants over two years.

Not only does StarHub help the community directly through these programmes, it also encourages its employees to get involved. StarHub employees get two days of volunteerism leave each year, enabling them to participate in company-organised events or propose their own events.

The Sparklers initiative lets employees propose their own voluntary efforts and the beneficiary they wish to raise money for. The company then matches the amount raised dollar-for-dollar up to S$10,000.

"When we do staff surveys, feedback has always been that they are grateful to be a part of StarHub because we are a company with a heart," said Ms Ong.

Customers are also given a chance to climb on board StarHub's philanthropy efforts. In 2014, the 4G4GOOD campaign was launched in which customers can pledge unused mobile data to beneficiaries.

"People like to do good, but sometimes they don't really know how. So 4G4GOOD was conceived as a way for StarHub customers to help the less fortunate," said Ms Ong.

StarHub also promotes environmental sustainability. Employees are encouraged to go green by placing recycling bins around the office. There is also an office garden where they can grow their own plants.

There are educational tours to Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa to educate employees on the importance of being sustainable and green.

In 2012, StarHub launched Singapore's first electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programme, RENEW. Initially, five bins were placed around the island. But as demand for the bins increased, StarHub roped in new partners such as DHL, which transports the e-waste, and IT recycling firm Tes-Amm.

The programme has won StarHub the Green award at the Asia Communications Awards. This year, StarHub was also ranked 8th on Corporate Knights magazine's list of the Global 100 most sustainable companies - the highest placed in Singapore.

However, despite growing popularity of the RENEW programme, StarHub still faces challenges in finding companies and shops to allow them to place the bins in their space.

"Singapore, sadly, has yet to become a recycling nation," said Ms Ong.

Still, StarHub looks to do more and create new ways to give back, she added. "This is a Singaporean company. So we want to grow the business organically and focus on helping the community in Singapore."

  • This is part of a series of stories on impactful corporate giving under the Company of Good programme led by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre. The Business Times is supporting the initiative as media partner.