By Miak Aw
NG Chye Mong, a 70-year-old food trading and distribution company, is a regular donor at food drives and charity events as its business owners believes in giving back to the society.
In 2007, Nichol Ng took over the firm founded by her grandfather. Besides rebranding it to FoodXervices, the 31-year-old has embarked on a series of notable projects - from hosting regular charity warehouse sale with One Singapore, to developing a food-matching programme for the needy for Food From The Heart.
'The concept of CSR (corporate social responsibility) is not new to SMEs,' says Lawrence Leow, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME).
He explains that many small companies believe in the principle of doing good, but a lot of them do not have a structured CSR policy in place.
FoodXervices has bucked the trend by joining Singapore Compact for CSR, a tripartite body that promotes CSR, to learn about about doing CSR correctly.
Another example is home-grown Jollibean, which officially introduced CSR into company policy in 2006, even though it has been regularly making monetary and goods-in-kind donations to charities on an ad-hoc basis for many years.
A check with industry experts indicates that there is a noticeable trend of some SMEs engaging in CSR activities, even though fresh and 'hard' statistics are unavailable. However, a CSR survey conducted in 2008 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry found that only 27 per cent of the companies surveyed - including both large companies and SMEs - were aware of and practising CSR.
'In general, many SMEs may not be aware of or use the term 'CSR',' explains president of Singapore Compact for CSR Olivia Lum. 'But their close relations with their stakeholders often mean a natural and responsible approach to business.'