About the Challenge

The DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia is an Asia-wide competition for social enterprises, open to any member of the public. Organised by NUS Enterprise and DBS Foundation, the Challenge aims to identify and support innovative new ideas and existing social ventures that have the potential to generate positive, scalable and sustainable social impact. Now in its 5th year, the Challenge aims to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship and build a robust community of social entrepreneurs and capacity builders across Asia.

The Challenge also provides multi-dimensional support for budding social entrepreneurs and builds capacity through public education in social entrepreneurship. Participants will be supported and mentored by some of the most experienced practitioners in this field. Furthermore, participants who qualify will have the opportunity to travel to Singapore for mentoring & coaching with experts, before facing the final round of judging. The Challenge will culminate with a prestigious awards ceremony.

With a dedicated learning platform and meaningful networks as well as increased awareness and support for budding social entrepreneurs, the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia will accelerate the impact of winning entries to solve today’s most pressing social problems.

View past year reports:

2018 (5 Year Impact Report)

As a corporate foundation in Asia solely dedicated to championing social entrepreneurship, DBS Foundation contributes towards building a more inclusive society so that those at society’s margins can enjoy productive and rewarding lives. DBS Foundation works with Social Enterprises and Social Entrepreneurs in Singapore, India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong with programmes ranging from venture challenges, learning forums, grant support, financing and skilled volunteer mentoring. The Foundation is an endeavour from DBS Bank to make an even greater impact in addressing Asia’s evolving social needs.

Visit us at: www.dbs.com/dbsfoundation

NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores.

For more information, please visit www.enterprise.nus.edu.sg

Meet Our Steering Committee

2017 – 2018

Prof Wong Poh Kam

NUS Entrepreneurship Centre

Professor Wong Poh Kam obtained two BSc.’s., an MSc. and a Ph.D. from MIT. He is Professor at the NUS School of Business and concurrently the Senior Director for NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, which promotes entrepreneurship education and outreach activities and runs a wide range of university technology spin-off support programs including the NUS Enterprise Incubator (NEI), various seed funding schemes and mentoring services.

Programmes that he has initiated include Start-Up@Singapore, the largest annual business plan competition in Singapore, the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Singapore, the NUS Social Venture Lab, the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia, as well as Lean LaunchPad Singapore. He also directs the centre’s research program on technology entrepreneurship and innovation strategy, and has published extensively in numerous international refereed journals as well as consulted widely for international agencies such as the World Bank and OECD, various government agencies in Singapore such as A*STAR, EDB, IDA and NRF, and many high tech firms in Asia.

An entrepreneur who co-founded three companies prior to joining academia, he has been an active angel investor with investment in over a dozen high tech start-ups in Singapore, Silicon Valley, China and India. He is the founding chairman of Business Angel Network (Southeast Asia) and BAF Spectrum Pte Ltd, an angel investment fund co-invested in by SPRING SEEDS Capital. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) by the Singapore Government in 2013.

Karen Ngui

DBS Bank

Karen Ngui joined DBS in June 2005 and is Managing Director and Head of Group Strategic Marketing and Communications.

She is responsible for corporate communications, brand management, corporate advertising, strategic marketing, internal communications, sponsorships and corporate social responsibility. She leads media and issues management efforts across the DBS Group and is responsible for managing and enhancing the bank’s brand positioning and establishing a consistent brand identity across all businesses and markets, including Singapore, Greater China, South and Southeast Asia. She is also a board member of the DBS Foundation and a governor of the Singapore International Foundation.

Karen has over 25 years experience in corporate branding, marketing and communications for financial institutions. Prior to joining DBS, she was the Global Head, Brand Management and Strategic Marketing for Standard Chartered Bank.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from University of Southern Illinois and a Masters of Business Administration from University of Iowa. She is a Malaysian citizen and a Singapore Permanent Resident and is married with three children.

Ignatius Low

Singapore Press Holdings

Ignatius Low spent 17 years of his career as a journalist and editor with The Straits Times, before he was appointed head of Media Solutions, Integrated Marketing Division, at Singapore Press Holdings. He joined the paper in 1999 as a banking and telecoms reporter and subsequently became Business Editor, Sunday Times Editor, News Editor and finally, Deputy Editor. As a columnist, he has taken on a wide range of topics and is equally comfortable doing the occasional business or public policy commentary as he is with the more personal lifestyle column he writes regularly for The Sunday Times.

Lee Junxian


Lee Junxian is the Co-founder and CEO of Moovaz, a machine intelligence driven block-chain technology for international relocation globally. He is also the Co-founder and ex-CFO of CashShield, an international online fraud risk management company with operations in the U.S.A, Europe, China and Southeast Asia. CashShield is backed by leading global investors GGV Capital, Temasek Holdings via Heliconia Capital Management, “Father of the iPod and iPhone” Tony Fadell and Zhang Tao, Founder of China’s leading tech firm, Meituan Dianping. Junxian also co-founded private investment platform, Fundnel, a regional fintech company operating into Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, Brunei and India, with several fellow finance professionals from the top investment banks and private equity funds.

Junxian has prior experience in investments with a large tech corporate fund (Garena/SEA) and operational/product experience from his previous stint as the launcher team of Shopee, kick-starting the business across 7 countries in the region. Junxian co-owns Reedz Café Pte Ltd, a chain of cafes serving the tertiary education and business park communities.

Junxian continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the NUS Business School’s alumni association as a Director and used to be the Treasurer of the endowed funds. He also contributes actively to the Fudan University Singapore Alumni Club and the Harvard Alumni Club in Singapore. He is passionate about philanthropy and education and has spoken actively on Ted Talks on the importance of conducting our daily business from the heart.

Neil D’Souza

Zaya Learning Labs

Neil D’Souza is the founder of Zaya Learning Labs, a disruptive educational startup that is bringing the online education revolution to low-income schools throughout the globe. As a social entrepreneur, Neil was recognized by Echoing Green in 2013 for his work empowering women to become para-teachers and run micro-schools in India. He was the first winner of the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia in 2014 and also won the NASSCOM Social Innovation Award in India. Neil has an engineering background and worked in the computer networking industry for over four years at Cisco Systems where he focused on Mobile Internet and Video Technologies. He was also part of a team that spearheaded the 4G/LTE protocol that forms the core for most mobile networks in the US. During his time at Cisco, Neil developed a strong passion for helping underprivileged communities and he set his sights on how to bridge the education gap for children in remote regions of the world. His product ClassCloud, provides access to education content and personalized learning to schools with limited access to Internet connectivity.

Rebekah Lin

The Social Co.

Rebekah Lin is the Co-Founder of The Social Co., a youth-led organization that aims to activate youths and businesses to leverage on their skills to give back to lesser-known charities in Singapore. Their first movement, 50 For 50, raised $4.5 million and heaps of awareness for more than 50 charities. She has been on the committee of the Yellow Ribbon Fund since 2011 and recently joined the Community Chest of Singapore as a main committee member.

Her corporate experiences include stints with Ogilvy & Mather, Singapore Press Holdings, Tung Lok Group, Be An Idea and Tembusu Partners. In her day job, Rebekah works at fintech startup, FundedHere, an equity crowdfunding platform. Rebekah graduated from Nanyang Technological University with an honours degree in Business Administration and has completed an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College, University of London.

Jayesh Parekh

Jungle Ventures

Jayesh Parekh is a Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures, a Pan-Asian Venture Capital fund based in Singapore.

He is a Co-Founder of Sony Entertainment Television, a major television network of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is subsidiary of Sony Japan.

He spent over 12 years at IBM in Houston and Singapore, and part of the team that brought IBM back to India.

He is on the Board and the Investment Committee of Aavishkaar India II Fund and Aavishkaar Frontier Fund, which are social impact funds. He is also on the board of Sanctum Wealth Management, One Animation, Milaap and Picdot (Flickbay).

He holds a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD.

He is a Charter Member of TiE and Indian Angel Network.

V.C. John


V.C. John is Regional Vice President, Marketing & Communications - BFSI Industry - APJ, Middle East & Africa, at Accenture. A B2B marketing strategy professional with 18 years of B2B marketing communication and market management expertise in the technology and consulting space, with demonstrated initiative, creativity and success. Having worked for several Blue chip tech organisations, VC has a proven track record of creating and deploying programmatic marketing strategies, streamlining workflow across stakeholder groups and virtual team environments to increase productivity. A proactive leader/manager with immersive experience in global, cross-cultural environments, VC is an expert in translating business objectives into SMART action outcomes with strong focus on results based on an excellent understanding of business processes and their linkage to organisational objectives.

• Market Management
• Communications strategy with focus on integrating social mechanics to facilitate category engagement.
• Brand audit & management
• Cross-cultural leader
• Marketing automation and analytics-based enablement

Zhifeng Koh


Zhifeng is Accenture’s Open Innovation Lead for Singapore. Open Innovation is a global network that helps promising startups work with Accenture’s clients around the world.

He works closely with Accenture teams to create their clients’ innovation agendas and strategies, and to develop client capabilities that leverage the startup ecosystem, such as corporate venture capital and innovation processes. He also leads a number of internal research projects design to formulate Accenture’s perspective on various segments of the innovation ecosystem in South East Asia.

Zhifeng spent most of his career working for startups in both San Francisco and Singapore, and has experience in software engineering, sales, and product management. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Classical Studies from Stanford University.