CSR, Education, Philanthropy, Social Sector Policy, Sustainable Development
Asia, Global, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Philippines, Singapore

Who’s Doing Good?

14 January 2019 - 20 January 2019


Henry Sy, Philippine’s’ wealthiest man and notable philanthropist, passes away. The “Retail King”, as Sy was cordially known, immigrated from China and transformed a small shoe business into a thriving retail empire over the years. His company, SM Investments, owns three of the most valuable companies in the Philippines today, spanning extensive retail, banking and real estate operations. Sy was also regarded for his philanthropy. In 1983 he founded the SM Foundation to undertake efforts mainly in education which the he saw as a way out of poverty. The foundation’s generous scholarships to thousands of deserving but underprivileged Filipino youth enabled them to attain college education. Sy was aged 94.

Chinese scientist Qian Qihu to donate science award worth ¥8 million (US$1.2 million) to children’s education. Two Chinese scientists, Qian Qihu and Liu Yongtan, were honored the highest science and technology award by President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People earlier this month. Each received ¥8 million (approximately US$1.2 million) for the award. Qian, who was recognized for his work on the country’s underground defense infrastructure, has decided to use the award money to set up a fund to help low-income children gain access to schools in his hometown of Kunshan. Qian has a history of charitable giving to education: since 2006, he has personally donated more than ¥200,000 (approximately US$29,500) to 17 low-income students.

The 2018 edition of Operation Santa Claus raises more than HK$17 million (approximately US$2.2 million). The latest edition of the Christmas fundraising drive, organized by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK, included a variety of fundraising events held across the city from mid-November 2018 to mid-January 2019. The 13 charities receiving the funding offer an array of services ranging from supporting vulnerable youths and the elderly to bringing therapeutic art to hospitals. The drive has now raised more than HK$300 million (approximately US$38 million) in total since its inception in 1988.


Education and digitization key to reducing poverty in China, argue Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai. Leaders of the world’s fifth-biggest internet company, Alibaba, put forth the argument at two annual philanthropy events in Sanya and Hangzhou, China. Ma said the use of new technologies allows farmers to become more competitive and in turn boost profits. For example, an analysis of shoppers’ preferences on Alibaba’s platform revealed a consumer preference for sweet melons weighing around two pounds. This insight was passed to farmers who altered their practices to meet these demands and were subsequently able to generate much higher revenues. Tsai quoted government figures which state that 42% of the 14 million middle-school graduates in China move straight to low-skilled jobs instead of high school. He argued skills training can make this transition smoother. Ma added further that these problems can only be solved if Chinese business leaders and the government work together.


India relaxes requirements on nonprofits looking to receive foreign donations. Nonprofits registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) are no longer required to sign-up to a government portal to receive foreign donations. Before the changes to the FCRA, organizations were required to undergo a tedious registration process before being able to receive foreign donations. This requirement was instituted in October 2017 to enhance accountability of organizations receiving foreign funding. The move will provide relief to thousands of nonprofits who faced difficulties in fulfilling this requirement.


The Independent lists Singaporean social enterprises making an impact. The enterprises on the list – CrushXO, I-Drop and Bookshare – achieve social objectives through their business models. CrushXO is a beauty startup which sells vegan-friendly makeup products. It donates 5% of its total sales to charities working on a range of social missions, including breast cancer awareness. I-Drop sells purified water through dispensing machines in grocery stores. Users fill their own multi-use water containers allowing prices to be as low as one-fifth of the cost of a traditional water container. Bookshare provides customized reading experiences to individuals facing health issues such as blindness and cerebral palsy. The platform boasts a library of over 670,000 books and charges S$1 (approximately US$0.74) for a weekly subscription.

“Breaking Bread Together” campaign provides freshly baked bread to children of low-income families in Korea. More than 400,000 children in Korea are estimated to be at risk of being underfed or malnourished. In response, Sun-in Co., a leading Korean specialty food manufacturer and distributor, partnered with Goldman Sachs and the Korean Red Cross to launch the “Breaking Bread Together” campaign. This campaign distributes fresh bread to children of low-income families on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A pilot program had been running since last year, and this month the campaign will expand the program to 16 cities across Korea. As a result, the number of families receiving freshly baked bread is expected to exceed 1,100 households.


Billionaire donors team-up for collaborative impact fund, Co-Impact. The impact fund is supported by 25 backers including Bill and Melinda Gates and Indian billionaires Rohini and Nandan Nilekani. As part of the effort, partners will fund and provide technical assistance to projects aimed at driving large-scale impact in Africa, South Asia and South America. The fund’s first US$80 million in grants will support five projects. One of these is an implementation of an education program developed by Pratham, one of India’s largest nonprofits, in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Around 3 million students are expected to benefit from Pratham’s knowledge of boosting reading and math proficiency. Together, the five programs are expected to impact over 9 million lives.


Korean animal rights leader refuses to step down despite euthanasia scandal. Park So-youn, the head of one of Korea’s largest animal rights groups, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), was accused of euthanizing more than 250 dogs earlier this month. Park claims the move was driven by mercy towards sick animals, however CARE staff and other animal rights groups reject Park’s view and have called for her resignation. According to one of the staff members: “Park is trying to justify her indiscriminate behavior (of administering euthanasia). Instead she is saying she will lead the social discussion on animal euthanasia.” Funding for animal rights groups in Korea is reported to have fallen drastically in the wake of the incident.