Who’s Doing Good?

8 April 2019 - 14 April 2019

THE GIVERS

GS Group makes US$400,000 donation to help victims of recent Gangwon wildfire. In line with the GS Group chairman’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, GS Group affiliates have been engaging in various partnerships to address social needs. Last year, GS Retail signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to annually donate relief supplies worth ₩50 million (approximately US$40,000) and to transform GS25 convenience stores into emergency shelters during natural disasters. GS Retail quickly responded to the Gangwon wildfire that broke out earlier this month, teaming up with other relief organizations to provide emergency supplies to those who suffered from the wildfire. GS Group made an additional contribution to relief efforts with a ₩500 million (US$400,000) donation to Community Chest of Korea, the country’s largest welfare institution, to support the victims.

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun to give nearly US$1 billion to charity. The founder and CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, is receiving a bonus of more than 636.6 million shares for his eight years of contributions to the company. The Chinese smartphone maker went public in Hong Kong in 2018, and based on the stock’s current price, Lei Jun’s shares amount to approximately US$961 million. Last Wednesday, Xiaomi stated in a regulatory filing that Lei Jun promised to donate all the shares to charitable purposes. This comes weeks after another fresh bequest of shares, worth around US$7.5 billion, was made by Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, to his philanthropic initiatives.

THE THINKERS

Indian philanthropy still faces limitations, but leaders in the field can pioneer change. Education programs continue to receive the majority of philanthropic funding in India, and some analysts have suggested that too much philanthropic funding has been going to the education sector to the exclusion of other important social issues, such as violence against women. However, the growing philanthropic infrastructure augurs well for enhanced information about and transparency of the nonprofit sector, allowing for underrepresented nonprofits to access more partnerships and opportunities. Leaders in the field, including academic centers such as The Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University and prominent foundations such as the Azim Premji Foundation, are positioned to drive the discourse on more inclusive and impactful philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Social impact app, TangoTab, launches at Singapore’s first food bank community event.  Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Andre Angel, TangoTab is an app designed to serve the food-insecure, and it has donated over three million meals to partners in the United States. TangoTab has partnered with The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG), a registered charity that coordinates food donations with its network of over 300 nonprofits. The app was launched last week at Singapore’s first food bank community event, which fed 1,000 people. Every time a diner checks in to a partner establishment on the app TangoTab will make a donation to FBSG to feed a person in need. As studies show that seven in ten Singaporeans dine out for dinner and one in ten go to bed hungry every night, TangoTab will help the city take a step forward in assisting the food-insecure through its meal-for-a-meal platform.

THE BUSINESSES

Hilton Hotels Malaysia gives back to society. In a recent interview, the regional general manager of Hilton Hotels Malaysia, Jamie Mead, shared details of the group’s CSR initiatives that focus on education, youth development, and going green. Mead also highlighted the focus on functional CSR such as the hygienic recycling system implemented to avoid wasting the thousands of soaps that are thrown away every day. Of the ongoing CSR initiatives, Mead highlights the partnership with SK La Salle 2, Jinjang, to be especially meaningful to him as the close-knit relationships between the children studying at the school and the Hilton Hotels Malaysia volunteers greatly inspired him to continue giving back.

Tata Power trains farmers on sustainable agriculture. Exhibiting its commitment to the social development of local communities, Tata Power, India’s largest power generation company, recently trained over 950 farmers in 42 villages on sustainable farm practices. Under the Sustainable Agriculture Programme, landholding farmers were taught the best agricultural practices for staple crops, vegetables, and cash crops. The program also trained landless farmers to cultivate vegetables in their courtyards through a vertical farming program, helping tribal farmers in remote areas both raise their income and lead a healthier lifestyle with increased access to fresh vegetables.

Tata Trusts and Microsoft partner to empower handloom weaving communities. In an effort to rejuvenate handloom communities in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India, Tata Trusts and Microsoft will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education, and digital literacy to handloom weavers. The training will be delivered through Microsoft’s Project Sangam, a cloud solution for large-scale training programs with adaptive streaming and offline-mode learning, which empower communities to learn anytime and anywhere. In partnership with Tata Trusts, Microsoft aims to expand the program to the grassroots level and help weaving communities build a sustainable future. The chief program director of Tata Trusts stated, “Through this initiative, we want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”

THE INNOVATORS

BPI Foundation searches for promising social enterprises in the Philippines. The social innovation arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Foundation, has announced the launch of BPI Sinag Year 5. To widen the scope of its competition this year, BPI Sinag will hold roadshows in Davao, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Laguna. At each stop, social entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present a seven-minute business pitch, and the top 40 most promising social enterprises will win an opportunity to participate in a boot camp that will include training on business strategy, marketing, operations, finance, organization, and human resources development. Ten social enterprises with the most promising business viability and social impact will be named as awardees of BPI Sinag, with the top one to five receiving PHP 500,000 (approximately US$10,000) and the top six to ten receiving PHP 100,000 (approximately US$2,000) in grants.

Asia Pacific region found to be the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. A global survey by BNP Paribas of 347 institutional investors who have US$23 trillion in assets under management found that despite lagging behind other regions on sustainable investing, the Asia Pacific region is the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. While the survey showed that Asia Pacific institutional investors only allocated 15% of funds to ESG investment, falling short of the 18% global level, over half of Asia Pacific investors stated that they would allocate up to 75% of their funds towards ESG by 2021. As green investment gains traction, the region is also set to see new job opportunities emerge as around 50% of Asia Pacific institutional investors plan to hire external ESG specialists, while only 34% of global counterparts expect to do the same.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Youth volunteers in Bangladesh lead the way on climate action. Bangladeshi State Minister of Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, recently participated in an interactive roundtable, “Youth 2030: Working with and for Young People,” organized by the United Nations in New York. At the event last Tuesday, the state minister commended the nation’s young volunteers, stating, “The youth, especially the volunteers, have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s efforts on disaster risk reduction in early warning of the cyclone and emergency evacuation, effectively reducing deaths and injuries from natural disasters.” The state minister also highlighted the leading role of youth in not only volunteering efforts, but also in taking charge of on-the-ground climate action and social media campaigns against climate change.

Who’s Doing Good?

11 March 2019 - 17 March 2019

THE GIVERS

Azim Premji boosts total philanthropic commitment to Rs1.45 lakh crore (US$ 21 billion). Last Wednesday, Wipro’s 73-year-old billionaire chairman announced a fresh bequest to his eponymous philanthropic initiatives. Premji stated that he will be giving 34% of his shares in Wipro, India’s fourth-largest software services exporter, to an endowment that supports the Azim Premji Foundation. This new bequest is worth about US$7.5 billion, making his endowment fund one of the five largest private endowments in the world and the largest in Asia. The India Philanthropy Report, which was released by Bain earlier this month, highlighted that India’s proportion of ultra-rich grew by 12%, and Premji’s largesse serves as a model for other ultra-high-net-worth individuals to follow and enhance their philanthropic giving.

K-pop star of the boy band BTS celebrates his birthday with US$90,000 donation. Suga, whose real name is Min Yoon-gi, celebrated his 26th birthday last Saturday with a US$90,000 donation to the Korean Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The nonprofit foundation helps fund treatment and surgery as well as provide emotional and learning support for child cancer patients. The K-pop star presented the donation, along with 329 dolls he personally designed, under the name of “ARMY,” his band’s fan club. Since debuting in 2013, the band has promoted giving back and recently expanded its worldwide anti-violence campaign in partnership with UNICEF. The band has inspired many of its loyal fans to donate to charitable organizations when it is one of its seven member’s birthday.

THE THINKERS

Research highlights public unease about doing social good and making a profit. The British Council’s latest report on social enterprises in Malaysia shows a surge in the number of social enterprises launching in the past five years; however, unfamiliarity with the concept of social entrepreneurship has stemmed the flow of capital into the growing sector. The nascent social enterprise sector, coupled with the lack of an official legal definition, has resulted in a public unease about doing social good and making a profit. While close to all of the social enterprises surveyed for the report said that they plan to grow, the flow of capital was cited as one of the biggest challenges for growth. More education on and awareness of social enterprises will be pertinent in assuaging distrust in profit-making social delivery organizations and encouraging more investment into the burgeoning sector.

Singapore’s finance minister encourages closer partnerships and more donations for building an inclusive society. The Straits Times reported last month that only an estimated five out of 100 people with disabilities are employed, and Singapore’s growing elderly population poses a greater demand for services for people at risk of age-related visual impairment. At a fundraising dinner for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat encouraged volunteers, companies, and donors to forge closer partnerships in building a more inclusive society. He also highlighted the importance of supporting organizations like SAVH to expand their services that improve the lives of the visually impaired. The government aims to also encourage more donations through its Bicentennial Community Fund, an initiative included in the 2019 Budget that will devote SG$200 million (approximately US$150 million) to the dollar-for-dollar matching of donations to registered charities in the coming financial year.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina encourages charitable work to spark social change. Last Thursday, four national celebrities were awarded the Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal for their contributions to society: politician and former Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, language movement veteran Rafiqul Islam, and painter Sahabuddin Ahmed. Prime Minister Hasina recalled the contributions of philanthropist Ranada Prasad Shaha, after whom the award is titled, and called others to take up charitable work and engage in philanthropy to propel social change in Bangladesh. As the country celebrated its National Children’s Day this past weekend, Prime Minister Hasina continued to affirm her government’s commitment to ensuring a brighter future for the country’s children through development initiatives.

THE NONPROFITS

Indian government’s regulations on foreign funding of nonprofits results in 40% decline in funds. The Modi government has tightened surveillance on foreign-funded nonprofits regulated under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), and since 2014, more than 13,000 organizations have lost their licenses. Nonprofits have played an invaluable role in uplifting India’s social sector, and while a recent report by Bain shows an increase in private funding in the social sector, domestic funding in its current state is insufficient compared to the flow of funds from large foreign foundations and international organizations.

Taiwanese environmental group showcases the role of nonprofits as agents of social change. The Ministry of the Interior revealed that there were more than 60,000 nonprofits operating at national and local levels in Taiwan by the end of 2018. One leading Taipei-based nonprofit, Society of Wilderness, is an exemplar of the pivotal role of nonprofits as agents of social change. Since its establishment in 1995, the nonprofit has helped reshape government policies, business practices, and public attitudes around environmental protection and conservation. With 11 branches nationwide, 6,000 paid-up members, 3,000 volunteers, and partnerships with various government agencies, the nonprofit has achieved noteworthy reach and social impact.

THE BUSINESSES

Top Korean conglomerate donates 10,000 air purifiers to elementary, middle, and high schools. In a recent executive meeting, LG Group and its chairman, Koo Kwang-mo, decided to have LG Electronics provide 10,000 large-capacity air cleaners to schools nationwide. In addition, LG will support Internet of Things-based air quality alert services and provide artificial intelligence speakers. The total price of the donation and support services amounts to around ₩15 billion (approximately US$13 million), and this comes after a donation of 3,100 air purifiers to 262 child welfare facilities earlier this year. An LG Group official highlighted the group’s understanding of its role in society and its aim to ensure children and teens have a healthy environment to live and study in.

THE INNOVATORS

Yue-Sai Kan to launch online sustainable fashion training for Chinese executives. Television producer, entrepreneur, and fashion icon Yue-Sai Kan has announced her decision to launch an executive education program in sustainable fashion for Chinese fashion executives. The free online course will be funded jointly by the Yue-Sai Kan China Beauty Charity Fund and WeDesign Group. The program is tailored to executives and professionals of Chinese companies engaged in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products and services and aims to impart knowledge on necessary tools to integrate strategies that support the environment while growing successful businesses. “Yue-Sai Kan is a visionary who understands that the future of fashion depends on sustainability,” said Simon Collins, co-founder, and CEO of WeDesign, adding that “China will play a very, very important role. It has the scale, the capacity, and the enthusiasm to impact sustainability on a global level.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

A new program in Singapore to encourage youth volunteerism in institutes of higher learning will begin in June. First announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu during the 2019 Budget debate, the volunteer training program is the result of a partnership between Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) and various institutes of higher learning. President Halimah Yacob, who is also the patron of YCS, said, “YCS will connect these youth with the larger volunteerism ecosystem to sustain youth volunteerism even after they graduate. Through the program, we hope that the youth will rally more of their peers to give back to society and to continue to volunteer beyond their studies.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal shelter nonprofit chief grilled over alleged euthanizing of stray pets and other suspected malpractices. Allegations against Park So-yeon, chief executive of the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), first surfaced two months ago. While her charity ostensibly advocated for animal rights to raise donations, it was revealed that 250 stray pets were euthanized secretly. Police are now questioning Park for the first time since they launched a probe into the allegations two months ago. On top of the alleged euthanizing of stray pets, Park is also suspected of embezzling funds from CARE sponsors and keeping them for her personal use such as real estate purchase and insurance payments. Despite the controversy, Park pledged not to resign from her role, citing “concerns over a power struggle by former workers.” Since the allegations, more than 1,000 sponsors have withdrawn their support.

Former mosque chairman in Singapore admits misappropriating more than SG$370,000 (approximately US$274,000) from donations over seven years. Ab Mutalif Hashim, 58, pleaded guilty to six criminal breach of trust charges, with another eight charges taken into consideration. Alongside his then role as chairman of a mosque’s management board, Mutalif was the executive director of the Just Parenting Association (JPA) which he had set up and president of registered charity Association for Devoted and Active Family Men (ADAM). During this time, Mutalif used mosque donations to pay for the expenses of the ADAM charity, as well as depositing funds into his own account and the JPA’s account in amounts ranging from SG$2,200 (approximately US$1,600) to SG$39,000 (approximately US$29,000). These funds were primarily spent for his personal and household expenses, while the JPA-directed funds are suspected to have covered his own monthly salary of SG$7,000 (approximately US$5,200) as the charity’s executive director.

Who’s Doing Good?

23 July 2018 - 29 July 2018

THE GIVERS

SK chief donates US$10 million to help Laos disaster recovery. Chairman of SK Group, Chey Tae-won, made the donation pledge in a meeting with the Laotian ambassador in Seoul, offering his condolences to victims of the flooding from the dam construction site. With two Korean companies being involved in the construction project, both companies and the Korean government have offered to provide aid in cash and in physical materials.

THE THINKERS

“Help nonprofits to build long-term capacity,” says Shahira Ahmed Bazari. Writing in the New Straits Times, Bazari, managing director of Yayasan Hasanah, a Malaysian foundation, urges for a change in the way that nonprofits are perceived: to recognize that they are professional organizations that require the same kinds of financial resources and support as other organizations. “If nonprofits do not have to worry about covering basic costs and salaries regularly, they can place more focus and resources on driving real change and delivering a social impact,” she writes.

The Straits Times answers questions about crowdfunding in Singapore. Instead of viewing it as a threat, it argues that crowdfunding should be viewed as an opportunity. On the island city-state, crowdfunding is regulated by the Commissioner of Charities in conjunction with the sector’s major players: crowdfunding sites bear responsibility for assessing the legitimacy of funding appeals while taking in a near-negligible fee for their services. Thanks to its lower cost, as well as potential to help organizations reach new audiences, crowdfunding could become an invaluable tool for small charities.

Bosses treating their employees better is also a form of corporate social responsibility. Datuk Michael Tio, chief executive of PKT Logistics Group, states that company profits should be spent on employees and that CSR is more than just donating to charities. Tio was one of the three panelists for the topic “Technology – The Engine of Change” at The Star Outstanding Business Awards 2018 held in Ipoh, Malaysia.

THE NONPROFITS

Responding to the Rohingya crisis, foreign donations to Bangladesh rise nearly 16%. Over US$820 million in funds are expected to go to the 1,625 projects approved by the NGO Affairs Bureau, the highest number approved by the bureau in a single year. This comes as donations to NGOs have waned in recent years, as the government has taken punitive measures against some for regulatory non-compliance. Another US$50 million is expected to be committed by donors in the coming year.

Foodbank Vietnam helps distribute food to those in need. Foodbank Vietnam, a government-sponsored Vietnam Red Cross charity, debuted earlier this year with a pledge to reduce poverty, raise social awareness about saving food, and boost connections and coordination between food suppliers and resource centers. “More than 5,000 meals are provided each month to 10 places sheltering the homeless, many of them children. We have gradually collected the food from five suppliers in Ho Chi Minh City,” said the founder Nguyễn Tuấn Khởi.

THE BUSINESSES

PepsiCo donates US$1 million to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Along with the financial donation, the multinational corporation is also donating its new Quaker Kids Nutrition products to assist with hunger alleviation efforts in Southwest China. Many counties in the targeted provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou are among the poorest in the country. The grant will provide over 1.7 million meals benefiting approximately 10,000 students over the next three years.

THE INNOVATORS

The Korea Herald interviews the president of Hanyang University, where social innovation is “in their DNA.” At Hanyang, students are required to complete 32 hours of community service in order to graduate. The university is the first in East Asia to be designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. “Trying to find ways to help others and contribute to the society, that is the mindset we seek to deliver to our students,” says Lee Young-moo, the university’s president. Going forward, it hopes to publish a Korean version of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the preeminent publication on social innovation from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Social services sector aims to strengthen service delivery with two new digital initiatives. The IT system to improve backend processes, iShine Cloud provides a suite of integrated IT cloud services specific to the charitable sector. The system is jointly developed by the National Council of Social Service and Singapore Pools. The system will consist of tools that will help social service professionals attend to their clients without being stalled by administrative tasks. The second is a social service navigator, an interactive online platform and mobile portal that consolidates information on social service providers, programs, and resources all over Singapore. The platform aims to significantly reduce the time social service professionals spend searching for a suitable program to better address the needs of their clients.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Children take on a bike tour of Taiwan to help the elderly. Fifteen children participating in the “2018 Love and Hope in Taiwan – Bicyclists Charity” event have set out on a bicycle challenge in Taichung, including stops in Kaohsiung and New Taipei, to help and support the elderly in those communities. The children come from disadvantaged families. They will perform dances and give the elderly massages on the way.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Charity founder confesses to sexual assault in WeChat post. Lei Chuang, the founder of the Yi You Charity and a high-profile philanthropic figure in China, has admitted to sexually assaulting a woman. Lei, a respected personality in China’s charity circle, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2015 in an anonymous article posted online.

 

 

 

Muhammad Yunus: Doing Good in An Uncertain World

In conversation with Dr Ruth Shapiro at the Commonwealth Club, October 2017

As the world’s wealth shifts into the hands of the few, a new system is emerging to address the inequality, unemployment and environmental destruction that Muhammad Yunus says goes hand in hand with capitalism.

Yunus, the pioneer of microcredit, has seen the transformative results of his economic experiments help people escape poverty. He believes that today’s economic system is broken and must be reformed to provide opportunity for all.

Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and the founder of Grameen Bank who earned a Nobel Prize in 2006 for his work in alleviating poverty. In his book, A World of Three Zeros, Yunus discusses the experiments that have inspired thousands of individuals, companies and organizations to continue to provide microcredit to all.