Does poverty exist in Singapore? It may not be immediately obvious, but 2 in 5 Singaporean households experience food insecurity at least once a month. And in these tough times, the role of non-profits and charities is more important than ever. But with inflation on the rise and interest rates soaring, in-kind donations have fallen by 15 per cent as many in Singapore are tightening their purse strings.
Despite being a small company wavering through these unprecedented times, Anusha Aswani, Director of Asian Food Network, continues to champion a culture of giving.
A Singapore-based sales and marketing, importer and distributor of premium speciality food and beverage with a portfolio of brands including Bare Coco, Tilda and Hampton Harvest, the company has donated over 2 tonnes of rice along with over 50 cartons of beverage products to organisations such as Willing Hearts Foundation, HCSA Community Services and Jamiyah Singapore.
Feeding over 10,000 people from the disadvantaged community including the elderly, disabled, low income families, children from single parent families, and migrant workers in Singapore.
“Giving back has always been a given in my family. When I was growing up in Nigeria, my mother would hire school buses, fill them up with bread loaves, and I would follow her to distribute them to other children.”
And all these started from her childhood days spending festive holidays and birthdays packing goodie bags and volunteering with her cousins at local nursing homes, and following her 86-year-old grandmother who provides meals to migrant workers in Singapore on a weekly basis.
With her passion for philanthropy starting at a young age, it was a no-brainer that Anusha pursued a career in the non-profit sector for almost 8 years, starting with her family’s philanthropic foundation, The Tolaram Foundation Ltd. in 2013. During her tenure, she led a sanitation and hygiene project providing access to toilets to young girls and boys in over 50 schools in rural Nigeria.
A culture of giving
Anusha then decided to pursue her MBA in Social Impact at the University of Oxford before returning to Singapore to serve non-profit organizations such as The Ray of Hope Initiative Limited, before venturing into Asian Food Network.
During which, she worked with some of the migrant workers first-hand, and saw how some of them were placed in harsh working conditions, as they were made to travel to get their food even when they were injured. One of the workers even had to sleep in a room that stored rubbish before it was collected, which further spurred Anusha to further her cause.
"There is poverty in Singapore, and unfortunately, more often than not, it is swept under the rug. I think that it is important for Singaporeans to understand that while we may complain about a lot of things, there are a lot more people out there with so much less."
Today, Anusha leads a brand together with her childhood friend and husband, making wholesome, better-for-you food and beverage products accessible to everyone while allocating a portion of their products to charitable organisations.
Through Asian Food Network, Anusha hopes to continue giving back to the community as the brand grows to greater heights and keeps doing good at the core of the business.