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For BusAds, giving back to the community is a responsibility

"I wish I can do more. I wish I can help every charity that comes to me ... I can't. Purely because I don't have the time (and) I don't have the resources," says Mr Yapp.


BUSADS is no stranger to giving back.

A family business with over 33 years of operation in the outdoor advertising industry, BusAds believes that giving back to the community is "not a choice" but a "responsibility as companies".

It's not just about projecting the company values but also the family values passed down through generations, according to Alvin Yapp, director of BusAds.

And giving money is not their main way of giving. Instead, BusAds promotes equal opportunities for its employees to help create an inclusive society.

"I personally believe that giving (can also) be seen in terms of accepting - giving opportunities to individuals who can be part of the progress and the prosperity that we have," says Mr Yapp.

For BusAds, that means employing people who come from challenging backgrounds, including individuals who are not considered "mainstream" in the public eye.

The company employs individuals who struggle to cope with holding full-time jobs while dealing with personal and family issues, as well as individuals with autism.

"We want to give them dignity. Respect. We want to give them that hope that we accept you for who you are and we want to integrate you," notes Mr Yapp. "I think it's a lot more meaningful."

Some examples are individuals with children that they need to take care of because they do not have family support, or come from single-parent families. The company offers them the flexibility to work whenever they can. "Half-time, part-day, full-day, one hour per day? No problem. We will manage with that," he says.

BusAds has taken special efforts to create job scopes for individuals with autism.

"I paste stickers for SMRT on panels. After I paste (the stickers) I need to remove the stickers. It's a very basic thing. So I (have) all these thousand and one panels, why don't you guys just come and remove the stickers?" Mr Yapp explains. "They will do it very well because this work is simple. They're very meticulous, very detailed."

A room is provided for such workers to remove the stickers and, in that room, the stickers are pasted in a way to simulate the experience of being in the MRT station or in the MRT carriage itself. This is to allow these individuals to know that "their job is being valued in public", Mr Yapp adds.

Individuals with autism also face challenges that may hinder their progress at work. Things like the inability to tolerate sound, bright lights, and being unaware of their surroundings, for example.

To address this issue, BusAds provides the option for these workers to bring the panels home and work on it at their own pace.

"Take whatever, how many panels you want. Own time, own target, every panel you do and bring back, I pay you a certain amount of money. So I've created a space where it fits their context," he says.

Working with autism is something that BusAds takes pride in, and it is a relatively young project, going back several months.

"It's not just giving in terms of charity. It's really putting heart and soul, effort, into making something that is sustainable," Mr Yapp emphasises.

Asked about the biggest challenge in giving back to the community, he summed up in three words: it never ends.

"I wish I can do more. I wish I can help every charity that comes to me ... I can't. Purely because I don't have the time (and) I don't have the resources."

That doesn't stop him from doing what he can. At the personal level, Mr Yapp holds an annual concert, Project Intan, at his private Peranakan museum that doubles as his home, to raise funds for various charities.

Since its humble beginnings in 2008, Project Intan has helped organisations like the Assisi Hospice and the ARC Children's Centre.

"Everything is sponsored for - meaning that no amount of money raised is spent on the event," Mr Yapp adds. "For me, it's interesting because it shows that hey, we don't need to be part of a big organisation to do good."

  • 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 (NVPC).
    The Business Times is supporting the initiative as media partner.