Philanthropy, CSR
Asia, Global, China, India, Myanmar

Who’s Doing Good?

25 February 2019 - 3 March 2019


Jhunjhnuwala family shares philanthropic values inspired by late patriarch. Surya Jhunjhnuwala, founder and managing director of the Singapore-headquartered Naumi Hotels, discusses the strong spirit of giving instilled in his family by his late father, Shyam Sundar Jhunjhnuwala. He credits his father for teaching the family that philanthropy is a value to live by and not an afterthought, stating, “It should start from young, and anyone can do it regardless of their status or net worth.” Among the numerous selected causes the family supports, Rita Jhunjhnuwala, Surya’s wife, highlights the family’s commitment to supporting causes with a longer-term effect. The family continues its patriarch’s legacy and passion for education through eponymous initiatives, including the Shyam Sundar Jhunjhnuwala Charity Fund and the S.S. Jhunjhnuwala – Naumi Hotel Bursary at the Singapore Institute of Technology.


A new nonprofit, Lever for Change, aims to unlock billions of untapped capital for philanthropy through big bet contests. The success of the first iteration of the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition, a high-stakes philanthropy competition that offers a US$100 million grand prize to only one proposal, has led to the launch of the new nonprofit, Lever for Change. This new competition consultancy will pilot effective competition models that allow funders to place “big bets,” giving millions all to one cause, in an effort to make the biggest impact on one specific solution. Lever for Change is backed by US$20 million from the MacArthur Foundation and US$5 million from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and several funders have already committed capital to be invested in ideas that are discovered by Lever of Change competitions.

Richard Hawkes from the British Asian Trust highlights three recommendations for charities engaging with social finance. The British Asian Trust, along with their partners, the Tata Trusts, UBS Optimus Foundation, The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Comic Relief, the Department for International Development, the Mittal Foundation, and British Telecom, recently launched the largest education development impact bond (DIB) in the world: Quality Education India DIB. Over four years, this DIB will aim to improve literacy and numeracy skills for more than 300,000 children, and ultimately help bridge the financial gap required to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust, draws on his experience and encourages development organizations and charities wanting to engage with social finance to focus on patience, clear and realistic goals, and collaboration for success.

Women’s World Banking celebrates 40 years of helping low-income women become financially secure.. As the global nonprofit, Women’s World Banking, celebrates its 40th anniversary, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, the President and CEO, shares stories of the nonprofit’s work that underscore the importance of delivering banking services to low-income women. Women’s World Banking started out working with microfinance banks, but it has since expanded to work with mainstream banks and other businesses focused on distributing products to women in need. Iskenderian, featured on this week’s Business of Giving podcast, highlights the positive impacts of access to finance that the organization has witnessed being at the forefront of the financial inclusion movement for forty years.

Over 80% of social investments in microfinance.. Myanmar received 15 impact-investing deals, which is the second highest number in Southeast Asia, between 2007 and 2017, but received the second lowest amount of capital at US$ 26 million according to a report by AVPN. The report also highlights that 80% of the investments were in microfinance. APVN says that new legislation such as the new Companies Law and moves by the Central Bank of Myanmar to relax collateral requirements will improve financing for SMEs, while the recent wave of impact funds and development finance institutions entering Myanmar will give a boost to the country’s impact-investing market and growing social enterprises.


Beijing’s Palace Museum receives major donation from Hong Kong-based foundation. The NG Teng Fong Charitable Foundation has spent about ¥1.9 billion (approximately US$238 million) on charity programs that focus on healthcare, education, cultural heritage conservation, and environmental protection. Last week, the Hong Kong-based foundation donated ¥100 million (US$15 million) to the Palace Museum in Beijing. Mr. Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, shared that this donation will be dedicated to restoring the Palace of Prolonging Happiness, or Yanxi Gong, into an exhibition space displaying foreign cultural relics, and it is expected to open in 2020. Part of the foundation’s donation will also be used for a youth exchange programs as well as Hong Kong-related training programs on museum expertise.


Ctrip CEO, Jane Sun, visits Middle East refugee centers to seek further commitments. As a philanthropist and CEO of Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, Jane Sun exhibits a commitment to social responsibility at a global scale. In addition to donating to causes that help children suffering from the effects of war, Ms. Sun leads Ctrip Group in undertaking major philanthropic initiatives. Last year the company supported the CanDo project, which works with children’s hospitals in Syria; the Edesia project, which addresses malnutrition in western African countries; and the Syrian Paralyzed Children project, which provides artificial limbs to children injured in the Syrian Civil War. During this past Chinese New Year holiday, Sun visited refugee centers in Lebanon and Jordan to better understand how to support the region and refugee education in future philanthropic initiatives.

Alibaba Cloud launches Tech for Change initiative for social good. The initiative calls for innovative ideas, and joint efforts from enterprises, startups and young entrepreneurs to tackle global social and humanitarian challenges in areas including education, economic development, and the environment through the use of technology. The initiative reflects Alibaba Cloud’s long-held value of empowering the community through technology. Alibaba Cloud also built a technical philanthropy platform, “Green Code” in 2017 to connect professional IT volunteers with non-profit organizations in China for philanthropy programs. More than 3,000 engineers registered for charity programs from 168 organizations in 2018.

Hurun Rich List: Bezos stays strong on top, while 23 other Indians join the club. The Hurun report, research, media, and investment business best known for its ‘Hurun China Rich List’, a ranking of the wealthiest individuals in China came out with this year’s rankings. Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon made it to the top for a second year. This year also saw Reliance India Limited Chairman, Mukesh Ambani make it to the top 10. The report also highlighted that China lost the maximum number of billionaires – 213, followed by India with 52. Women made up 15.5% of the list, similar to last year’s 15.3%.

Founder’s values play a key role in driving family business philanthropic philosophy. Different family business philanthropy models have emerged over the years, ranging from foundations to corporate social responsibility initiatives. Building off a long tradition of giving, family businesses in India are increasingly pursuing hybrid models, like that of the Tata Trusts, in which families set up a charitable foundation that is funded by dividends from the business. A 2016 report by EY found that the founder’s values play an especially important role in driving family business philanthropy as it brings family members together in supporting their selected cause. While annual lists, like Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy, include top Indian philanthropists every year, another trend stands out in India: big philanthropists are usually quiet about their work and impact.