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COMPANY OF GOOD

NTUC's commitment to the community

Other than helping the underprivileged, the labour movement marshalls its employees to volunteer with the less fortunate.

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Five low-income famiies were given a free grocery shopping trip at a FairPrice Xtra outlet last year. Members of the U Care Fund Board of Trustees were among the officials present.

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President Halimah Yacob gracing Boys' Brigade Share-A-Gift launch event at Unity Secondary School last year.

NTUC has always shown a commitment to helping the underprivileged in society, and this is reflected in its business strategy and its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Since its founding, its mission has always been to reduce the cost of living in Singapore.

One way it has done this is through its FairPrice house brand label, which offers products such as condiments, beverages, household cleaners, fresh produce and frozen foods at prices which are 10 to 15 per cent lower than those of market competitors.

The label has grown from branding a small range of daily essentials - staples such as rice, bread, sugar and cooking oil - to now include more than 2,000 products.

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One of the problems that NTUC has recently been tackling is the rising cost of infant formula.

It has introduced its own range of formula milk under the FairPrice Gold housebrand, priced at under S$30 for a 900g tin.

The company has also introduced a range of infant formula called Australia's Own, priced at under S$35 and exclusive to FairPrice Singapore; NTUC said it was previously available only in Australia.

These two infant formulas are notably cheaper than others in the market, where prices may be as high as S$60 for the same quantity of milk powder.

Another recent step the company has taken on the CSR front has been the introduction of a digital platform for its existing FairPrice Share-A-Textbook programme.

Working with Microsoft Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic, it developed a mobile app and online portal, utilising cloud computing to coordinate the process of giving and receiving donated used textbooks.

Since 1983, the programme has collected and distributed more than four million textbooks to 240,000 families.

The beneficiaries are students from low-income families shortlisted by the Ministry of Education, social service organisations, labour unions, and the Community Development Councils.

Other initiatives NTUC has organised include the FairPrice Walks with U, and the NTUC-U Care Fund.

Over the last nine years, the FairPrice Foundation has donated a total of S$24.3 million through various programmes to assist low-income households.

NTUC FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng said: "Beyond financial sponsorships, we also galvanise staff and encourage the public to volunteer in our activities and do good for the less fortunate.

"Together, we contribute about 5,500 volunteer hours annually."

One of these volunteer programmes, the Boys' Brigade Share-A-Gift initiative, was set up in partnership with the Boys' Brigade. Members of the public are invited to contribute by donating essential food items at 12 FairPrice stores and online.

NTUC said that last year, more than 42,000 beneficiaries received these essential food items.

Referring to the CSR programmes undertaken by NTUC, Mr Seah said: "NTUC FairPrice's social commitment to do good for the community is part of our corporate DNA. We aspire to be a leading retailer with a heart.

"The framework of our CSR community programmes is structured to provide assistance to the less fortunate and more importantly, to empower the beneficiaries in the longer term."

  • This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre's Company of Good programme as a media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information, or drop a note at contact@companyofgood.sg.