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Committed to helping fellow Singaporeans

Three Brands for Good winners discuss the benefits of giving back to their communities.

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"We are particularly concerned about the adverse attitude many companies have towards hiring the elderly. We are determined to create a business model where the silver population can be offered fair employment opportunities, feel included and age gracefully with dignity, without the need for handouts or charity." - Alvin Sabai, CEO, iFood

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"We are partnering with the Singapore Kindness Movement to spread the kindness habit. This value will subsequently define not just the way we do business but also the way we treat others in society. We also believe that promoting kindness motivates our team and makes us more socially conscious." - Lee Woon Chiang, MD, Uncle Ringo Trading

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"We have retrained older workers to use our machinery through on-the-job training so that they remain relevant. For disadvantaged and older workers, we offer flexi-hours. We have also re-engineered our work and supervision processes to fit the characteristics of older workers, as well as ex-offenders." - Lim Chin Huat, founder, D'Cake

AWARD CATEGORY
COMMUNITY: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS / SOCIAL GIVING AND ENGAGEMENT

iFOOD
Alvin Sabai, chief executive officer

iFood Group of Companies manages the Good News Cafe, a social enterprise established in 2005. The company's goal is to fill a niche in providing good quality food at affordable prices in a cafe setting. Realising that Singapore's elderly were finding it harder to find employment because of their age, iFood decided to make it its mission to employ and train these senior citizens so that they could be gainfully employed and financially self-sufficient.

Why did you decide to join the Brands for Good awards and how do you think being a winner will benefit you?

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AS: We joined Brands for Good with the hope of being recognised as a company doing good. Basically, our mission is to hire the elderly and ensure that fair employment opportunities are extended to everyone regardless of age, race or gender.

We are particularly concerned about the adverse attitude many companies have towards hiring the elderly. We are determined to create a business model where the silver population can be offered fair employment opportunities, feel included and age gracefully with dignity, without the need for handouts or charity.

Essentially, if we can have a platform to show other like-minded companies that they can do more for society, more companies will step forward and emulate what we are doing. Together, we will be able to serve a greater number in society that we would otherwise not be able to do by ourselves.

We believe that being recognised by Brands for Good provides us with such a platform.

Why do you think it is important for SMEs to focus on doing good?

AS: SMEs are at the heart of Singapore's economy. Basically if SMEs are not looking out for our fellow Singaporeans, who will? If companies continue with their mindset of not hiring the elderly, we will soon reach a point where many of these elderly will have no choice but to live on handouts.

What key CSR measures have you adopted and what impact have these had on your business as well as your stakeholders?

We have basically offered employment to most of the elderly who have come to us. At present, 85 per cent of our 200 staff strength is above the age of 55, of which 21 per cent are above 65.

We make it a point to recognise what our seniors want; such as a supportive workplace, recognition of their experience, flexible work arrangements and social contribution.

We have revamped our training processes to cater to their needs by making our on-the-job training manuals more visual. We have also made it easier for them to learn by dividing our cafe operations into five stations.

The key impact to the organisation has been greater stability in the workforce. While we still have turnover, albeit not as high as other F&B operators, the commitment and attitude of those who stay with us have been nothing short of impeccable.

What other CSR measures are you planning to put in place in the future?

We plan to continue developing the talent of our elderly workers with the intention of enabling them to take on supervisory positions either with us or other F&B companies. This will improve their incomes and, more importantly, allow them to take on supervisory roles. We have elderly people joining us as counter staff rising through the ranks to finally take on managerial positions in our organisation.

UNCLE RINGO TRADING
Lee Woon Chiang, managing director

Uncle Ringo is the largest carnival equipment rental and events planning company in Singapore. They have been a household name since the 1980s and have organised numerous carnivals, fun-fairs, theme parties, product launches, fundraising charities and school events.

Uncle Ringo has been devoted to charitable activities for decades. They have sponsored and promoted charity campaigns to allow more people to benefit, participate and work together to make Singapore a success.

Why did you decide to join the Brands for Good awards?

LWC: We focus largely on social responsibility and giving back to the community. Being a winner is a strong recognition of our efforts in contributing to our society as we progress.

Why do you think it is important for SMEs to focus on doing good?

LWC: Every business is operating in a landscape that is increasingly competitive these days. If we do not differentiate ourselves by doing good and doing better, we will ultimately lose our customers.

What key CSR measures have you adopted and what impact have these had on your business as well as your stakeholders?

LWC: We participate in community events where the underprivileged get to enjoy our carnivals just like everyone else in our community, without any discrimination or disadvantage. Through such events and projects, our entire team gets a chance to contribute in a way they would not during their day-to-day work.

What other CSR measures are you planning to put in place in the future?

LWC: We are partnering with the Singapore Kindness Movement to spread the kindness habit. This value will subsequently define not just the way we do business but also the way we treat others in society. We also believe that promoting kindness motivates our team and makes us more socially conscious.

D'CAKE
Lim Chin Huat, founder

D'Cake runs a modern, mechanised Nonya Kueh factory that is staffed with older workers and disadvantaged people. The company also aims to help ageing Nonya Kueh vendors remain economically active, and help preserve and share Singapore's Peranakan culture.

How does your company give back to the community it operates in?

LCH: We ensure that the Nonya Kueh Tradition is kept alive by constantly innovating to appeal to the younger generation. This helps to keep old local kueh makers in business. These suppliers have been supplying kueh to D'Cake for the last 12 years.

What measures have you adopted to help workers in your factory?

LCH: We have retrained older workers to use our machinery through on-the-job training so that they remain relevant to the company and the workforce. For disadvantaged and older workers, we offer flexi-hours of work, allowing them to choose the hours that they work. We have also re-engineered our work and supervision processes to fit the characteristics of older workers, as well as ex-offenders.

What have been the impact of these measures on your organisation?

LCH: We have more than 50 older workers whose long-term retention rates are very high. Our measures have also allowed us to actively hire Yellow Ribbon and SCORE workers, who are ex-offenders and inmates.