Guided by our values of being Honourable, Enterprising, United and Committed, we believe in giving back to the communities where our people and our customers build their lives. With a deep understanding of the markets in which we operate, we are steadfast in our support of the social and economic development of these communities and invest in areas that create long-term value for them. Our programmes connect people, strengthen bonds and enrich lives in the areas of art, children and education.

Our employees and clients, together with our Deputy Chairman and CEO, Mr Wee Ee Cheong, helped to prepare hot meals for the needy at the UOB Commercial Banking Lunar New Year outreach event.

2016 Highlights

  • Recognised as a Company of Good Founding Member in Singapore – a trailblazer in championing and driving corporate giving;
  • Received the Corporate Pinnacle Award, the highest honour from the Community Chest, and the Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award from the National Arts Council for the 12th consecutive year in Singapore;
  • Received the Outstanding Social Caring Award from the Social Enterprise Research Institute in Hong Kong;
  • Facilitated investments in energy and infrastructure development projects in Vietnam, Myanmar and China;
  • Enabled enterprise and innovation through an alternative funding ecosystem for Asian startups and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • Championed Southeast Asian art and artists through the 35th UOB Painting of the Year (POY) competition, inclusive community-based art classes and exhibitions, and art outreach initiatives across the region;
  • Established partnerships with art patrons such as ION Art in Singapore and Regal Hotels International in Hong Kong to make art more accessible to the community;
  • Provided learning opportunities via scholarships, interest-free student loans, art education and financial literacy programmes across the region; and
  • Supported our people as they volunteered more than 49,600 hours towards community initiatives in the region through our UOB Heartbeat Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

As a leading bank in Asia, we are committed to supporting sustainable business investment and long-term economic growth in all the markets in which we operate.

Encouraging Long-Term, Strategic Investments

As part of our sustainable business approach, we support investment which facilitates economic development, empowers local communities and improves lives.

  • We focus on investing in sectors which aim to deliver long-term prosperity and progress. One such example is our support of strategic investments in the energy and infrastructure sectors.
    • In Vietnam, UOB Venture Management (UOBVM) has invested in one of the country’s largest privately-owned hydropower companies, giving a boost to the country’s renewable energy sector;
    • In Myanmar, we helped facilitate the financing of the construction of telecommunications towers and gas-fired power plants to help the country meet the infrastructural needs arising from its economic development;
    • In China, UOBVM (Shanghai) set up the RMB100 billion Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Private Equity Fund in partnership with three Chinese companies to invest in companies contributing to the infrastructural development of western China; and
    • Through UOBVM’s Asia Impact Investment Fund, we offer our clients opportunities for social impact investing to help improve the living standards of certain communities in Southeast Asia and China.
  • In addition to encouraging economic growth via direct investment, UOB is committed to helping Asian businesses work through the challenges of expanding beyond their home markets. Throughout the year, we partnered government agencies, trade associations and industry experts to help companies seize regional expansion opportunities. For example, we hosted our first investment and networking forum in Ho Chi Minh City to connect more than 200 Asian businesses to the business opportunities opening up in Vietnam.

Creating Economic Value

In the course of conducting our business, we also create direct and indirect economic value for our stakeholders. We provide livelihoods for more than 24,000 people across the 19 markets in which we operate. In 2016, we spent more than $2 billion in employee compensation and benefits, which in turn contributed to spend within local economies. We also accrued $669 million in income tax to various governments.

Wherever possible, we use local suppliers as part of our commitment to support the long-term development of local economies. In 2016, local suppliers in our main markets of operations – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong – accounted for 93.1 per cent of our total purchase value of $1.32 billion.

Enabling Enterprise and Innovation

SMEs are the foundation of Asian economies. At UOB, we have a longstanding commitment to encourage such enterprises and to nurture their growth. With more than 80 years of experience in supporting SMEs, we have a deep understanding of the challenges and needs across their lifecycle – from startup to sustainable growth. We use our unique insight and expertise to offer a range of solutions to meet their business needs throughout.

  • In 2016, we invested in a global equity crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd, which offers innovative Asian companies an alternative source of funding to help them develop viable business models and jumpstart their international expansion.
  • Through InnoVen Capital, our joint venture with Temasek Holdings, we offer venture debt financing to startups in China, Southeast Asia and India in the areas of healthcare, clean technology and consumer services.
  • In addition, through The FinLab, UOB’s joint venture with SGInnovate, we provide extensive mentorship and guidance to FinTech startups through a 12-week accelerator programme. UOB’s Senior Management mentored the first batch of eight startups, helping them to refine their business models and propositions.

Giving back to the communities in which we operate is fundamental to our business philosophy. We believe the progress of a country, its economy and people rests on the strength of its social fabric, hence our commitment to support art, children and education for the long term.

As a champion of corporate giving, UOB was recognised in 2016 as a Founding Member of Company of Good, a programme developed by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre in Singapore to empower companies to give more holistically. We also received the Community Chest’s highest accolade, the Corporate Pinnacle Award, for our contribution of more than $20 million to the Community Chest in 2015.

We received Community Chest’s highest accolade, the Corporate Pinnacle Award, for our significant contributions to the community.

In addition to the wide range of community initiatives that we drive, we contributed $4.5 million to the community in 2016 through our sponsorships, donations and scholarships, and funds raised by our employees and customers.

Connecting Communities Through Art

In 2016, UOB championed art in Southeast Asia through our flagship UOB POY competition, and through a holistic range of visual arts programmes, partnerships and outreach initiatives. In recognition of our long-term commitment to art, we were presented with the National Arts Council’s Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award for the 12th consecutive year in Singapore.

We champion Southeast Asian art and artists primarily through our annual UOB POY competition, which marked its 35th anniversary in 2016. The competition is the longest-running art competition in Singapore and one of the most prestigious in Southeast Asia.

The UOB Painting of the Year competition helps to discover and to nurture artists across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

We help to raise the profile of POY winning artists through social media (top) and widen the appreciation of art through exhibitions at the UOB Art Gallery (above).

The UOB POY is open to established and emerging artists, and is held in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The most outstanding artwork from across the region is then presented with the UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year Award. 2016’s winner was Indonesia’s Mr Gatot Indrajati for his artwork Right or Wrong My Home, which depicted the resilience of Indonesians.

Through the UOB POY competition, we nurture artistic talents across the region by profiling winning artists and by providing them with opportunities to showcase their artworks. In 2016, we featured winning artists and their artworks in exhibitions, art outreach activities and through social media.

The UOB POY competition also helps widen the appreciation of art within the community. In 2016, seven exhibitions were held at the UOB Art Gallery in Singapore, featuring artworks by UOB POY alumni artists and selected artworks from our 2,300-strong UOB Art Collection. In Indonesia, we organised UOB POY roadshows that brought art exhibitions and art talks to communities in Bandung and Yogyakarta. In Thailand, we held a roadshow for 21 art universities and colleges nationwide, as well as a UOB POY Workshop to facilitate the exchange of art knowledge and perspectives on Southeast Asian art.

UOB’s art outreach initiatives included art demonstrations by UOB POY artists (top) and an art bazaar for children in Indonesia (above).

In addition to our flagship art competition, we supported the development of the region’s art scene through a range of art outreach initiatives. These included new and continued partnerships with art patrons, community-based art initiatives and art education programmes.

In 2016, we continued to bring the world’s largest permanent display of modern Southeast Asian art to the community through the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery at the National Gallery Singapore, of which UOB is a founding partner.

We also established new partnerships with art patrons who share our vision of encouraging the experience and appreciation of art in the community. In Singapore, we launched the Create initiative in partnership with ION Art, the art and design programme of the premium shopping and lifestyle mall ION Orchard. Create drew on Singaporeans’ love for food to cultivate a deeper understanding of art through art-inspired culinary creations, food art workshops and an exhibition featuring UOB POY artists. A portion of the sales from the culinary creations and artworks was donated to our community partners, The Little Arts Academy and Rainbow Centre – Yishun Park School. We also donated to The Red Pencil, a non-profit organisation that helps children and families through art therapy.

In Hong Kong, UOB joined hands with Regal Hotels International to launch the “UOB Art Space uniquely @ REGAL” at Regal Airport Hotel, as part of our partnership to promote art through sustainable initiatives. The exhibitions are refreshed quarterly and feature artworks from our art competitions, the UOB Art Collection and by young local artists.

The UOB Art Academy in Hong Kong, set up in 2015, continued to educate the general public on art, nurtured young artists and promoted cross-cultural art dialogue through art activities, exhibitions and competitions. We also published a charity book featuring the best entries from our 2016 UOB Connectivity Photography Award competition. Proceeds from the sale of the book went towards art workshops for underprivileged children.

In Indonesia, UOB organised an Art Bazaar which introduced children to art through a painting competition.

Making Art Accessible to All

As part of our UOB Heartbeat Art Workshops, we partner UOB POY alumni artists to customise art education programmes for children, including those who are underprivileged or have special needs. Each child is paired with a UOB Heartbeat employee volunteer to learn art techniques and to create their own artworks, guided by one of our UOB POY alumni artists. In 2016, we conducted seven such workshops in Singapore with beneficiaries from our community partners, including the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Towner School, Autism Resource Centre, Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Bukit Panjang and the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Chaoyang School.

We champion art through outreach initiatives such as the Please Touch initiative for visually impaired children in Thailand (top), UOB Heartbeat Art workshops, and partnerships such as the Create food art programme in Singapore and our “UOB Art Space uniquely @ REGAL” in Hong Kong.

UOB also collaborated with Pathlight School, Singapore’s first autism-focused school, for an exhibition at the UOB Art Gallery. Highlighting the importance of unity in a world of diversity, the Sky Deep exhibition featured artworks by 14 artists with autism. The proceeds from the sale of the paintings were given to Pathlight School and its artists. In Thailand, UOB organised the Please Touch initiative, comprising art sessions for visually-impaired children across four provinces, as well as an exhibition showcasing the tactile art pieces that they created. Through the auction of artworks by 12 renowned Thai artists, the exhibition raised THB669,000 to support the Art for All Foundation, which organises programmes for youth with disabilities and the disadvantaged.

Since 2010, we have partnered The Little Arts Academy, a non-profit organisation, to run the UOB Mini Monet Programme, an advanced level visual arts programme that provides support for talented young artists from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2016, 10 young artists graduated from the programme. Since 2009, UOB has also been supporting the Northlight School Visual Arts Programme, which provides opportunities for students to pursue their interest in art. In 2016, we sponsored an art education programme for kindergarten and primary school students, organised by the Hong Kong Society for Education in Art.

Preparing the Young for the Future

We support education initiatives that develop young minds and help them achieve their potential. As part of our efforts to give the younger generation a head start in life, we run university scholarship programmes and sponsor education initiatives, bursaries and book prizes for students.

To help students achieve their full potential, we support a range of education initiatives including the UOB University Scholarship programme in Myanmar (top).

  • In 2016, the first cohort of awardees was selected for the Wee Cho Yaw Future Leaders Award, which aims to develop future leaders by providing tertiary education opportunities for underprivileged students. UOB contributed $20 million towards the award, which was launched in 2015. The total endowment fund stands at $50 million with a 1.5 times matching grant from the Singapore Government.
  • Under the UOB University Scholarship programme in Myanmar, the Bank awarded scholarships to 15 undergraduates in 2016, bringing the total number of scholars under the programme to 30. This is the second year of the three-year scholarship programme, which was launched in partnership with the University of Yangon and Yangon University of Economics in 2015 as part of our commitment to help nurture local banking talent in Myanmar.
  • UOB sponsored academic awards and book prizes for top-performing students at tertiary institutions in Singapore, and provided scholarships to 131 elementary and high school students in Indonesia.
  • Since 2010, UOB Ho Chi Minh City Branch has offered interest-free student loans to the undergraduates of Vietnam National University, Hanoi. As at 2016, we have disbursed loans totaling VND6 billion, benefitting more than 1,300 students.
  • As a corporate partner of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, UOB Hong Kong’s senior executives shared their knowledge on RMB internationalisation with the university’s Master of Science students.

As a responsible financial institution, we believe strongly in equipping the community with life-long knowledge and skills in sound financial management. To help in this regard, we conduct regular financial literacy programmes across the region.

  • In Indonesia, more than 100 university students learnt how to improve their financial knowledge and entrepreneurship skills in this era of digitalisation. We also organised financial education sessions for undergraduates of the University of Indonesia and Indonesia Banking School, as well as provided financial literacy sessions for children from Orphanage Mustaqim Jakarta. We collaborated with Otoritas Jasa Keuangan and other financial services institutions to share our knowledge in banking, insurance and financial services with elementary, junior and high school students of Darul Hikam.
  • In Hong Kong, we collaborated with the Hong Kong Association of Banks to organise two financial management workshops for more than 100 students from Good Hope School and Pui To Middle School.
  • In Thailand, we worked with the Thai Bankers’ Association on its financial literacy programme for university students and provided volunteers who educated the students on financial management and saving. We also developed and distributed a Retire in Style handbook to help educate our customers in Thailand about the importance of wealth management and retirement planning.

Uniting Through UOB Heartbeat

The UOB Heartbeat CSR programme brings together employees, customers, business partners and UOB POY alumni artists to give back to the community. The UOB Heartbeat programme comprises various fundraising and outreach initiatives, including the UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk event, the UOB Commercial Banking Lunar New Year outreach event and the UOB Heartbeat Employee Volunteerism programme.

In 2016, employees across the region gave more than 49,600 volunteer hours to projects aligned to our CSR focus areas of art, children and education. They were involved in more than 50 volunteer projects across the region, including fundraising programmes, financial literacy workshops and festive activities with beneficiaries. Volunteers also lent valuable support to our UOB Heartbeat Art Workshops, where they guided children in creating art.

A key focus of the UOB Heartbeat programme is the annual UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk, our flagship fundraising programme that brings together our employees, their families, customers and beneficiaries to raise funds for a good cause. In 2016, the UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk celebrated its 10th anniversary with more than 11,000 participants raising $1.1 million across six markets. The donation helped improve the lives of children, including those with financial difficulties or special needs.

On 24 July 2016, our employees across six markets participated in the UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk event. Top to bottom: Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Across the region, the beneficiaries included the Children’s Cancer Foundation in Hong Kong, the Shelter Home for Children in Malaysia, and 1,600 children and youth in Singapore from MINDS Towner Gardens School, Pathlight School and Rainbow Centre – Yishun Park School.

Every Lunar New Year, the UOB Commercial Banking teams across the region unite with our clients to help the community. In Singapore, our Deputy Chairman and CEO, Mr Wee Ee Cheong, led 60 employees and clients in preparing 5,000 hot meals for the needy and elderly at Willing Hearts’ soup kitchen. They also raised $1.16 million, which was donated to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, TOUCH Ubi Hostel and Willing Hearts.

Our Deputy Chairman and CEO, Mr Wee Ee Cheong, joined UOB Commercial Banking employees and clients to distribute meals at the Willing Hearts’ soup kitchen in Singapore.

UOB Heartbeat volunteers reached out to the community through more than 50 community projects in the region.