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Philanthropy, Education, CSR, Environment, Social Enterprise / Impact Investing
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China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand
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Who’s Doing Good?

13 May 2019 - 26 May 2019

THE GIVERS

Lu Weiding named the most generous Chinese philanthropist. Hurun Report released its “Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019,” ranking the most generous philanthropists from Greater China. Lu Weiding, chief executive of Wanxiang Group, tops the list with a single donation of shares worth US$720 million. The donation was made to a charitable trust in memory of his father, Lu Guanqiu, who founded Wanxiang in 1969 and grew it into a multinational conglomerate that is China’s largest auto components company today. Ranked second this year, Chen Yidan, co-founder of Tencent, made a US$500 million gift comprised mainly of Tencent shares. He is followed by Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Group, who made a US$230 million donation. This year’s list also sees a notable increase in female philanthropists–up to 21 from 13–with Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Longfor Properties, leading with US$20 million in donations.

THE THINKERS

Challenges in measuring China’s nonprofit sector. A pioneering study, Research on the Calculation of NPO-GDP in China, conducted by Professor Ma Qingyu and his team from Beijing Wanzhong Social Innovation Institute (BWSII), aims to measure the burgeoning social sector’s contribution to China’s economy. The findings were presented at an international symposium hosted by BWSII and The Asia Foundation. Lester M. Salamon, a leading global expert on the empirical study of the nonprofit sector, hailed the study as an important step in measuring the economic footprint of the third sector. However, he noted that the definition of the “third or social economy” sector used by Ma, who follows the convention laid by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, is limiting. It excludes volunteer work, as well as organizations such as social enterprises, cooperatives, schools, and hospitals that earn significant market incomes but do not distribute their profits. Salamon believes that a broader definition of the third sector, detailed in a UN handbook of which he is the lead author, is more commonly used internationally and would make it easier for China to share the story of its sizeable third sector with the world.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Sustainability Conference explores global trends of circular economy and sustainable finance. The conference, which is organized by CUHK’s MBA students, convened thought leaders and practitioners from both the public and private sectors to discuss growing global trends and recent developments in sustainability. The conference has traditionally focused on corporate philanthropy and company-initiated social services under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility. This year’s iteration also underscored the importance of advancing sustainability efforts and supporting innovative approaches towards creating positive social and environmental impact. Emerging trends in sustainability were discussed, including circular economy, ESG, and green finance, with an aim of nurturing the next generation of sustainability-minded business leaders.

THE BUSINESSES

Alibaba releases inaugural philanthropy report detailing the company’s social impact. Alibaba Group has released its inaugural philanthropy report, which details the company’s philanthropic initiatives and highlights its three platforms: Alibaba Philanthropy, Alipay Philanthropy, and “Each Person Three Hours.” According to the report 440 million individuals across China have used these platforms in the past 12 months, raising over US$184 million in charitable donations. Over 15 million people registered on the “Each Person Three Hours” platform, which lists over 3.05 million volunteer opportunities. In addition to showcasing Alibaba’s integration of philanthropy into each part of its business ecosystem and the company’s encouragement of personal philanthropy by employees, the report also lists several examples of Alibaba’s philanthropic initiatives outside of China. Sun Lijun, head of the Alibaba Foundation, underscored the Group’s commitment to philanthropy, “Here at Alibaba, philanthropy is the core of our business model. Our foremost priority is providing effective and sustainable solutions to problems faced by society.” Since 2011, when Jack Ma founded the Alibaba Foundation and announced a commitment of 0.3% of the group’s annual revenues to social responsibility initiatives, the e-commerce giant has grown to be a leader in corporate social responsibility in China.

Thai company partners with nonprofit Alliance for Smiles to provide surgery for 100 Myanmar children. In celebration of 30 years of their business in Myanmar, Thai oil and gas company PTTEP Myanmar Asset is funding surgeries for children suffering from cleft lip or palate. The initiative is in partnership with Alliance for Smiles, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers free comprehensive treatment for children suffering from these conditions in under-served communities. Thanks to PTTEP’s donation of US$100,000, Alliance for Smiles will be able to offer surgery to 100 children in Myanmar. During the signing of the agreement, PTTEP Myanmar Asset’s general manager stated, “We are very pleased with the results of this cooperation with Alliance for Smiles. This benefits not only the individuals but the entire community in the long run.”

Tata Group helps restore damaged power network in wake of Cyclone Fani. While the Odisha government’s speedy evacuation saved the lives of millions, countless homes and power lines were destroyed by Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to hit India in decades. To aid recovery efforts Tata Power sent a team of 25 engineers and technicians from its regular operations to resurrect the power network. Tata Trusts and Tata Projects Community Development Trust are also providing drinking water supplies to affected areas, while Tata Power Solar has distributed over 4,000 solar lanterns to villagers. Praveer Sinha, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Power, said, “As an integral part of the Tata Group, we always endeavor to stand by the fellow Indians in need. After the global recognition to the country for successfully managing the cyclone, let us all join hands in resurrecting Odisha with our concentrated efforts.”

THE INNOVATORS

Kitkit School and onebillion announced as co-winners of Elon Musk’s US$15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. Launched in 2014, the Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition backed by Elon Musk that challenges teams across the globe to help end global illiteracy. Teams work to design and develop scalable, open-source software solutions that enable self-teaching of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic within 15 months on Pixel C tablets donated by Google. Kitkit school, created by Enuma, a leader in digital early learning based in Seoul and Berkeley, draws on technology and gamification to boost children’s confidence and empower them to be independent learners. onebillion, an educational nonprofit based in London, developed onetab, a learning device that offers onecourse, a comprehensive and modular adaptive learning software that responds to children’s different learning needs. The two winning teams will split the US$10 million Grand Prize sponsored by Elon Musk.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Employees and executives of POSCO gear up for “POSCO Global Volunteer Week.” As part of Korean steelmaker POSCO’s corporate social responsibility, 63,000 employees and executives working in 55 countries will participate in the company’s annual week-long volunteer event serving their respective communities. The volunteer week includes a panoply of community service opportunities such as enhancing energy efficiency, offering free English classes, and building an infirmary. Choi Jeong-woo emphasized the importance of the global volunteer week to the company, “POSCO employees will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills to help other members of society prosper.” POSCO announced that this year’s event slogan will be “Share the Talent, Change My Town.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Prosecutors and witnesses describe flow of state funds into Najib’s accounts. The Straits Times reports on developments in the first of five criminal trials against former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who faces seven charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhdan (1MDB) scandal. The scandal centers on an alleged US$4.5 billion said to have been embezzled from 1MDB, a state investment fund set up under the Najib administration in 2009. Last week, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur heard witness testimonies recounting how fund transfers designated for CSR programs were made under the orders of chief executive of Yayasan Rakyat 1 Malaysia, a charitable foundation that had deployed CSR funding to Ihsan Perdana in the past. Instead, the funds allegedly ended up in Najib’s accounts and may have been used to pay off personal and political expenses. The trial is expected to continue until August.