Responding to Covid-19: Who’s Doing Good?

12 May 2020 - 24 May 2020

THE GIVERS
Individuals continue to donate cash, services, and supplies to Covid-19 relief efforts.

Donations to the Cambodian government’s efforts to fight Covid-19 pour in. An estimated US$23 million in donations have come in from local donors and civil servants—64,000 of whom pledged to donate portions of their salaries to help fight Covid-19. Another US$40 million has come in from international partners.

Popular TV talent Shinobu Sakagami and Japanese rock star Toshiki of X Japan are going public with their donations to Covid-19 relief efforts in hope that it will nudge others toward charity. Both stars upped their charitable giving during the crisis—Sakagami pledged to donate his entire salary for the duration of Japan’s state of emergency and Yoshiki donated ¥10 million (nearly US$95,000) to Japan’s National Center for Global Health and Medicine. They aim to fight the stigma around publicizing one’s charity and hope to tap into what Sakagami calls a “hidden reservoir of generosity” in Japan. CAPS’ upcoming Doing Good Index 2020 shows that 88% of surveyed social delivery organizations in Japan believe that individual giving remains low in their economy.

THE THINKERS

Fixing the trust deficit in our sector. Rachita Vora, co-founder and director of India Development Review (IDR), writes about how Covid-19 has irradiated the value of the nonprofit sector, offering a unique opportunity for the sector to rebrand itself. In this article, Vora outlines how the sector can “tell a different story about the work nonprofits do, why it matters, and why the sector must be a crucial part of any effort at strengthening our influence in society.”

THE NONPROFITS
Charities continue to serve communities affected by Covid-19, even as they deal with economic hardship and disrupted operations.

BRAC has allocated BDT 30 million (approximately US$355,000) for low-income families in Bangladesh who were impacted by Cyclone Amphan. Funds will focus on repairing households and water sanitation and hygiene facilities damaged to ensure people living in these areas can continue hygiene practices during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. BRAC is also providing cash assistance to 100,000 families affected by Covid-19 in Bangladesh.

ChildFund Korea is donating US$77,000 to a ChildFund Cambodia project that will help educate more than 275,000 children and their families across 334 villages in Cambodia. The project will help commune councils strengthen their relief plans as well as provide educational materials across national television and social media. Videos produced by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, UNICEF, and Save the Children will be part of the campaign focusing on disease prevention amidst Covid-19, learning from home, and mental and physical well-being, among other topics. Khmer Times interviewed other NGOs in Cambodia to highlight the impact of Covid-19 on nonprofits and how they are soldiering on.

THE BUSINESSES
Companies continue to donate cash and needed supplies to communities affected by Covid-19. For organizations dependent on CSR funding, the pouring of such funds into Covid-19 relief efforts is leaving them uncertain about their future projects. 

In Bangladesh, mobile finance service provider Bkash is the latest company to add a ‘Donation’ button to the main menu of its mobile app to streamline donations to 11 humanitarian organizations aiding Covid-19 relief efforts. Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh (DHPB) will donate hygiene products such as Dettol soaps, Harpic cleaners, and other products to 50,000 families across the country, in partnership with BRAC and Bangladesh Scouts. The company will also partner with BRAC to provide cash donations to 500 poor and needy families in rural Bangladesh. 

In China, Ant Financial Services Group released its 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, detailing its efforts to leverage digital technology for social good. The report also details the variety of digital services and measures launched to help fight Covid-19 and mitigate its impacts. 

In India, ET Intelligence Group looks at how Covid-19 is likely to have a severe impact on traditional CSR expenditure and the ecosystem dependent on it, as donations to the PM Cares Fund and Covid-19 relief work qualify as CSR expenditure. The article highlights how some companies in India have already exceeded their FY19 CSR expenditure on Covid-19 related efforts. Whether companies will expand their CSR budgets given the pandemic is still a question to be answered. According to an official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on May 13, the PM CARES fund will allocate ₹3,100 crore (approximately US$410 million) to Covid-19 relief measures, including funds for ventilators, migrant workers, and vaccine development. The announcement comes one and a half months after the fund was established on March 27. SBI Foundation, the CSR arm of State Bank of India, has committed ₹30 crore (approximately US$4 million) to implement various Covid-19 relief programs across the country.

In Malaysia, brands joined forces to launch CSR efforts that support communities in need during Ramadan. This includes Fave Malaysia, Nestle Malaysia, UMobile, Tiffin, AirAsia, Shell Malaysia, and others. Nestle has mobilized its value chain to launch a global Covid-19 response, including in Malaysia. Nestle has pledged to support 200,000 socially vulnerable Malaysians amid the crisis, committed US$3.4 million to a fund that will supplement the livelihoods of lower-income communities and small enterprises, donated US$230,000 to the Malaysian Red Crescent, donated 10,000 Nestle family food packages, and channeled US$115,000 to the Yayasan Food Bank Malaysia. 

In Pakistan, the National Bank of Pakistan has topped up earlier contributions towards Covid-19 relief with a donation of Rs80 million (approximately US$500,000) to support over 26,000 financially vulnerable households.

In the Philippines, LT Group is donating a bio-molecular laboratory, worth P15 million (approximately US$300,000), to the Philippine Red Cross in Batangas City, capable of conducting 4,000 Covid-19 tests daily. The lab is scheduled to be completed within a month. Union Bank of the Philippines’ UShare donation platform is helping ramp-up relief operations by facilitating online donations to NGOs in the largely cash-based country. Since the quarantine began, daily transactions via the platform have increased by 87%. Hyundai Motor through H.A.R.I. Foundation, the CSR arm of Hyundai Asian Resources, donated 2,200 PPE items to the Lung Center of the Philippines. Philippines Tatler gives a round up of Filipinos leading the fight against Covid-19, from conglomerates like SM Group to local mayors. The government also launched a public-private task force T3 (Test, Trace, and Treat) to urgently expand testing for Covid-19 from approximately 4,500 tests per day to at least 30,000 tests per day. The government task force is receiving support from the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), the Philippine National Red Cross, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and other private sector actors.

In Singapore, Perennial Real Estate Holding and Hong Kong-based Shun Tak Holdings have teamed up to donate five million surgical masks to the National Council of Social Service for vulnerable communities, making it the largest donation of surgical masks in Singapore for Covid-19 to date. Some Singaporean companies who do not need the Government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) payouts have decided to return the payouts to government, while others are donating the money to charity. For example, German pharmaceutical group Boehringer Ingelheim is donating its JSS payouts to five charities selected by its employees. Food firm TiffinLabs, co-founded by one of Singapore’s youngest billionaires Kishin R.K., has setup the Food is Love Foundation to give free meals to the needy during Covid-19. This includes 20,000 restaurant-quality meals in partnership with charity Free Food For All and 10,000 meals to healthcare workers, among other initiatives.

In Cambodia, Coca-Cola Cambodia diverted US$200,000 from its advertising budget to invest directly in a campaign to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The company also partnered with the Ministry of Health, City Hall, Union Youth Federations of Cambodia, and Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth and Doctors Association to help distribute anti-epidemic supplies, PPE, and educational materials to impoverished communities, front-line medical workers, tuk-tuk drivers, hospitals, health centers and quarantine facilities. 

THE INNOVATORS

Crowdfunding projects help virus-hit businesses in Japan. Popular crowdfunding sites Campfire, Readyfor, and MotionGallery have waived commission fees since late February. Since, these platforms have raised a total of over ¥1.7 billion (approximately US$16 million) for at least 1,000 projects up till May 8, including support for restaurants, hotel operators, and event hosts who suffered sharp falls in sales amid Covid-19.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Oxfam to close in 18 countries, including its country offices in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Oxfam International is to lay off almost 1,500 staff and close operations in 18 countries as the nonprofit’s funding has been impacted by Covid-19 and recent scandals, including the Haiti sex abuse scandal. The charity announced that it will focus on ushering in change and facilitating a deeper footprint of impact in the countries they will continue to operate in.

Covid-19 shrinks civic space in Southeast Asia. In a recent article for The Jakarta Post, the directors of Bangkok-based Asia Centre highlight examples from across Southeast Asia, where civil society organizations (CSOs) are feeling the grip of Covid-19 legislation and social distancing measures. The article looks at how restrictions have halted organizations’ work and how funding has been diverted from CSOs to Covid-19 relief efforts.

International NGOs likely to slash funds for Nepal as pandemic affects developed world, stakeholders say. According to the Development Cooperation Report 2018-19 published by the Finance Ministry, international NGOs disbursed US$215 million to various projects in Nepal in that year. Stakeholders expressed uncertainty about whether the country will see the same funding commitments in the coming year amidst Covid-19. The president of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal noted that while aid pledged to the health sector is likely to remain stable, funding to other sectors might decrease. After the Social Welfare Council allowed foreign NGOs to divert 20% of their budget to Covid-19 efforts, a growing number of foreign NGOs have followed suit.

For microfinance lenders, Covid-19 is an existential threat. The Economist argues that the financial interests of the world’s poorest are not receiving enough attention as Covid-19 impacts microfinance lenders around the world. The article includes examples from Asia, such as Dvara Trust in Chennai, India and the microfinance arm of BRAC in Bangladesh, who are unable to carry out business as usual amidst lockdown measures and economic headwinds from the crisis.

Korean NGO’s role in supporting ‘comfort women’ questioned. The Diplomat reports on recent accusations from a former victim of mishandled donations. According to the Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, if allegations are true, the NGO Korean Council for Justice Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan might have exaggerated when reporting to the tax authorities. In a press conference, the NGO’s director Yoon Mi-hyang admitted there were mistakes in the organization’s accounting practices but pointed to “the nature of a civic group without enough people to handle heavy workloads.”

We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at research@caps.org

Responding to Covid-19: Who’s Doing Good?

28 April 2020 - 11 May 2020

THE GIVERS
Individuals continue to donate cash, services, and supplies to Covid-19 relief efforts.

Hussain Dawood, chairman of Pakistan’s Engro Corporation and Dawood Hercules Corporation, pledged PKR1 billion (approximately US$6.3 million), in services, supplies, and cash to support various organizations in their fight against Covid-19.

Enrique Razon and his group of companies have donated Php 500 million (approximately US$10 million) in medical supplies. The company foundations of both Solarie and International Container Terminal Services have also contributed to other relief efforts, such as creating and retrofitting Covid-19 treatment facilities and donating food.

Senior administrators at Hong Kong’s nine main universities are donating portions of their salaries to Covid-19 relief funds. Presidents and vice-presidents at The Education University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University, and The Open University of Hong Kong will give 10% of their salary for the next 12 months. The Chinese University of Hong Kong president, along with seven pro vice-chancellors and vice-presidents, will give 15% of their monthly salaries from May to December.

THE THINKERS

CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics Scott Kennedy examines the response of Chinese philanthropists to Covid-19. According to data from the YISHAN China Philanthropy Data Center, donations to public charities from late January to April 22 had reached over US$5 billion. The large majority (72%) had come from companies. The article looks at the breakdown of corporate donations to Covid-19 relief efforts by industry, firm ownership, and regional distribution.

Tao Ze, Founder and President of YISHAN, shares his observations on Covid-19 and its effect on the nonprofit sector in China. This includes insights into the impact of the crisis on operations and growth of nonprofits, government support for the sector, and what other countries can learn from China’s social delivery organizations.

THE NONPROFITS
Charities are stepping up their operations and joining forces to serve communities affected by Covid-19.

In 13 states in India, NGOs fed more people than government did during lockdown. According to a reply submitted by the central government to the Supreme Court: 84,260,509 people in India were provided meals during the lockdown that started on March 25. Overall nearly 37% people were fed by NGOs, but in 13 states, NGOs outperformed state governments in providing free meals. In nine states and union territories, NGOs fed more than 75% of the people who were provided meals during the lockdown. In Kerala and Telangana, all meals were exclusively provided by NGOs. To ensure uninterrupted supply of food grains for NGOs carrying out these services, the central government directed the Food Corporation of India to provide wheat and rice to NGOs at the open market sale rates without the e-auction process, which previously was only offered to state governments and registered bulk users.

THE BUSINESSES
Companies are contributing to Covid-19 relief funds and donating needed supplies to affected communities. Companies are also expanding their efforts to aid other countries where they operate.

In Japan, Sony announced that it will manufacture and donate medical face shields to hospitals to make up any shortfall in PPE (personal protective equipment) for healthcare workers. Sony will also help mass produce ventilators designed and developed by Acoma Medical Industry. Toyota, Suntory, Mitsubishi Motors, Teijin, Toray, Kao, Fast Retailing, and Shiseido have also pivoted their production lines or launched new operations to ease the shortage of medical supplies. Daiichi Sankyo announced a US$1 million donation, through the Japan Center for International Exchange, to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. LINE Corporation and its group companies have set forth 15 different initiatives to support its users in Japan, as well as an array of initiatives for users in Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand. These include facilitating donations, medical consultations, mental health counseling, and more. Mitsubishi Electric announced it will contribute JPY100 million (nearly US$1 million) to support frontline medical workers in Japan and children who are affected by the suspension of school. Eisai, the Japanese pharmaceutical company, is funding and donating PPE to healthcare institutions and organizations in Japan, 10 other Asian countries, the United States, and 8 European countries. 

In Korea, Oriental Brewery (OB) and L’Oreal, through their Korea arms, have contributed to relief funds, conducted volunteer activities, and donated supplies to help fight Covid-19.

In Indonesia, 13 Singaporean companies donated 100,000 masks and five tonnes of hand sanitizer to the city of Batam, where 11 of these companies operate. The effort was organized by Singapore’s Economic Development Board, and donations will go to frontline healthcare workers. Chinese iron and steel company Rockcheck Group and Indonesian conglomerate Rajawali Corpora joined forces and donated over a million surgical masks and gloves, after a previous donation of PPE, to support healthcare workers. The Rockcheck Group has donated 100 million yuan (US$14.1 million) so far to eight countries severely affected by the pandemic.

In Myanmar, telecom operator Ooredoo Myanmar donated over 13,000 pre-loaded SIM cards to regional and state governments to distribute to individuals in quarantine centers. Ooredoo is also providing toll-free call access to Consultation Call Centres for those seeking medical advice or information related to Covid-19. Korea’s SK Energy and SK Trading International have donated 4,000 Covid-19 test kits, worth around US$50,000, to Myanmar. POSCO International also donated 100 virus test kits that can run 10,000 tests to Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports.

In the Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) is aiding government relief fund distribution. RCBC was given the authority by the Monetary Board to accept government funds and assist in cash distribution under the social amelioration program for Covid-19. Downstream oil industry companies spent Php180 million (approximately US$3.6 million) through their CSR programs for Covid-19 relief efforts. They also donated PPE and gave free fuel to frontliners. The Philippines arm of Macau’s Suncity Group donated US$1 million worth of PPE to 40 public hospitals in Luzon province. LT Group has mobilized at least Php200 million (approximately US$4 million) worth of internal resources to aid frontline medical workers, healthcare institutions, and military personnel. Alliance Global Group companies have donated over Php603 million (approximately US$12 million) to support the country’s medical workers, NGOs, and impacted communities. It also waived rental charges for tenants in various Megaworld and Lifestyle Malls.

In Hong Kong, the business sector is contributing to the fight against Covid-19. A recent article in South China Morning Post highlights examples from the array of corporate relief measures—from offering financial support to providing hotel rooms and testing kits. Examples include relief efforts from HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, New World Development’s hotel arm, Pentahotel Hong Kong, and a collaboration between Prudential and Prenetics. Bank of China (Hong Kong), through its BOCHK Centenary Charity Programme, donated HK$50 million (approximately US$6.5 million) to charitable organization Po Leung Kuk to support a total of 31 programs. Bank of China (Hong Kong) also sponsored the distribution of anti-epidemic packs to Po Leung Kuk’s beneficiaries. Hong Kong-based Baring Private Equity Asi (BPEA) announced a US$5 million Covid-19 Relief Fund to support affected communities across the region. BPEA Founding Partner and CEO, along with the firm’s four other investment committee members, will forego and contribute 100% of their annual salaries.

In India, Goodera, a Series B funded startup and India’s largest platform for CSR and employee volunteering, is leading India Inc’s efforts against Covid-19. Goodera has curated a list of real-time needs of medical institutions, NGOs, and state governments to facilitate coordination with companies looking to deploy CSR funds to vetted and approved organizations. Goodera has also enabled its massive network of volunteers to virtually lend management expertise to help NGOs execute projects and scale up their operations. Through its dedicated portal for Covid-19, Goodera has seen over 1 million volunteers sign up, and nearly 250,000 users are actively participating in Covid-19 relief campaigns. With CSR funds going directly to Covid-19, NGOs in India are looking at steep reduction in corporate support. FSG, a social action nonprofit, shares perspectives on how CSR funders and nonprofits in India can navigate funding needs amidst Covid-19. Interviews with 18 CSR leaders and corporate CEOs show that companies are giving to relief efforts—directly or through the PM CARES Fund and chief ministers’ relief funds. However, much of this funding has come from CSR budgets, with the remaining being prioritized for nonprofits addressing Covid-19 issues. This has left nonprofits focusing on other issues uncertain about the funding of their projects. Yet, the question on how to prioritize CSR funding during Covid-19 sees different responses. In Pakistan, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has advised all listed companies to divert their CSR funds towards fighting Covid-19.

THE INNOVATORS

Promoting resilient social enterprise ecosystems: Cambodian ecosystem enablers are pivoting their operations during Covid-19 to support the country’s entrepreneurs. For example, SHE Investments and Technovation Girls both have moved their accelerators and coaching services for female entrepreneurs online. Impact Hub Phnom Penh has coordinated with the private sector, universities, and ministry partners to run the HacKHtheCrisis virtual hackathon, which brings together different actors who are already working on addressing Covid-19. CAPS partners in Indonesia, PLUS and Instellar, have also moved training programs online in order to keep supporting social enterprise startups during lockdown. In Korea, CAPS partner Underdogs has also introduced online training. 

Precious One, an Indonesian social enterprise, employs disabled crafters for its handicraft business. This video by The Jakarta Post shows how the enterprise has pivoted during Covid-19 to produce cloth face masks and keep their business afloat.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

In this section, we usually share stories about scandals that are having negative repercussions for the social sector. With the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, there are some trust-breaking stories circulating from price-gouging to faulty medical supplies. Fortunately, the stories of people being constructive during these times far outnumber them. We look forward to bringing more of these positive stories to you in the coming weeks.

We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at research@caps.org

Social Impact Landscape in Asia

Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)

This series of reports documents the landscape for social investment across Asia. Each report maps a country’s socio-economic development context, government initiatives and investment indicators related to the social economy, and notable actors in the social investment landscape. Opportunities, challenges and recommendations for investors and intermediaries are also discussed.

Read it here:

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

This series of briefs provides insights into the growth of civil society and nonprofit organizations in countries across Asia. Civil society comprises of a diverse range of individuals, community groups and organizations operating around shared purpose and values. The briefs spotlight the legal framework within which they operate and their broader relationship with government and society.

Read it here:

The Landscape for Impact Investing in Southeast Asia

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) & Intellecap Advisory Services

Southeast Asia is undergoing rapid development, but the region continues to face challenges. Impact investing is a growing practice and is seen as a means to generate positive social and environmental impact along with financial returns. This study examines the trends and landscape of impact investing in Southeast Asia. It outlines challenges and opportunities for impact investors and the political and economic factors that can inform investment decisions. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the three most active markets in the region–Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines–and a broader regional overview of Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand. Read it here.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December 2019 - 22 December 2019

THE GIVERS

UBS Optimus Foundation launches Singapore office. Swiss bank UBS has opened its Singapore office to expand its foundation’s philanthropic offerings in Asia. The new office will engage clients on philanthropic initiatives related to education, health, and child protection. The foundation also has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, and approximately 40% of its grant making is in the Asia-Pacific region. Chairman of the UBS Optimus Foundation Singapore stated, “We expect unprecedented amounts of wealth in Asia to be transferred across generations over the next 20 years. This will be a significant boost on philanthropy as many entrepreneurs are committed to using their wealth to create a legacy that has a positive social impact.”

THE THINKERS

Tatler asks CAPS Chief Executive to weigh in on the state of philanthropy in Asia. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro gives insight into new philanthropic trends in the way people, government, and companies are addressing challenges across the region. Shapiro highlights growing interest in impact investing and support for social enterprises, both of which are examined in CAPS’ newly released study, Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia. She notes two trends specific to Asia, public-private partnerships and the role of government, illustrating each with examples from across the region. She also discusses increased commitment to ESG (environment, social, and governance) goals, broadened notions of corporate social responsibility, and other ways in which private sector entities are blurring the lines between profit and purpose. 

THE BUSINESSES

100 female scholars in rural Cambodia complete inaugural Girls Learning & Leading Program.  Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido partnered with The Asia Foundation earlier this year to launch the Girls Learning & Leading Program (GLL). The program aims to empower marginalized young women by offering academic support, soft-skills development, and mentorship. Mentors include local Cambodian leaders as well as senior Shiseido staff, including Jean-Philippe Charrier, president and CEO of Shiseido Asia Pacific. With the success of the first pilot GLL program in Cambodia, Shiseido and The Asia Foundation plan to expand the program to more high schools in Cambodia in 2020, as well as other Southeast Asian countries in the longer term.

Microsoft and Humana People to People launch digital classroom project in India. Development organization Humana People to People India has joined hands with Microsoft, Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, and the Government of Chhattisgarh to introduce the Digital Learning Programme. Under its school learning component, the program aims to “enhance the learning levels of students through the strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), while simultaneously developing their critical thinking and creativity.” The adult literacy component of the program aims to “promote and enhance functional literacy among the illiterate adults of both the districts.” The program is launched under the corporate social responsibility arm of Microsoft India, and it will be rolled out in 16 schools in Raigarh and Mungeli districts of Chhattisgarh.

THE INNOVATORS

Moral Money Special Edition: Hiro Mizuno, Japan’s $1.6tn man. Financial Times’ Moral Money interviews Hiro Mizuno, chief investment officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF)—the world’s largest pension fund at US$1.6 trillion. Since his appointment in 2015, Mizuno has helped spark change by moving more largesse into domestic and global equity markets and by embracing ESG principles. In the interview, Mizuno discusses his initiatives for building a healthier investment climate. This includes the GPIF’s announcement earlier this month that it would “stop lending its global equity stocks to short sellers, arguing that it was antithetical to ESG.” 

U2’s Bono unveils blood-by-drone delivery service plan in Philippines. A day before U2 was set to perform in the Philippines, the band’s lead singer Bono announced a new drone-based blood supply delivery service for the Philippine Red Cross. This initiative for on-demand and emergency blood deliveries by drone is a partnership between the Philippine Red Cross and Zipline, an American automated logistics company, of which Bono is a board member. Through this service, health workers can place orders via text message and receive deliveries in about 30 minutes. The blood-by-drone service aims to bridge the delivery gap for millions of Filipinos living in geographically disadvantaged areas. It is expected to launch summer of 2020 with its first of three distribution centers in the Visayas.

Who’s Doing Good?

16 September 2019 - 29 September 2019

THE GIVERS

Five heirs from wealthy Asian families focus on the environment. In this Bloomberg article, wealthy Asian heirs and philanthropy experts discuss their efforts, and the challenges they face, in environmental activism and impact investing. Asia is home to three of the five most-polluting countries in the world, but government and philanthropic efforts to combat climate change are lagging behind. However, as wealth is transferred to a younger, more environmentally aware generation, attitudes are starting to change. The efforts and challenges discussed in the article include climate awareness campaigns, green bonds, and ESG investing. 

THE THINKERS

UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank launch the Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children. The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children (GMPFC), a joint initiative of UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), will help enable multiple forms of Muslim philanthropy. The Fund offers a coordinated and structured mechanism through which Muslim giving can be channeled to children and young people. This includes obligatory giving such as Zakat and voluntary giving such as Sadaqah donations and Waqf endowments. This funding will contribute to humanitarian and development programs in the 57 member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Fund aims to raise US$250 million from private and public foundations, Zakat agencies, and individual donors.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies are putting purpose before profit. Indian businesses are increasingly tweaking their policies, premises and operations to be more socially and environmentally conscious. Underlying these developments are young customers and employees preferring companies adhering to certain values, as well as a broader shift in capitalist focus from pure profit to a broader more inclusive and purposive business approach. These ideas are not new to Indian business. Former director at Tata Sons underscores this in the article, giving nod to Jamsetji Tata who–over a century ago–emphasized that the community is not just another stakeholder but the very purpose of business. Among the companies implementing new initiatives are Godrej companies, which adopted a gender affirmation policy, and Mahindra group, which reduced the amount of energy used to produce vehicles by 83% in 8 years.

Grab launches social impact program to upskill Southeast Asians. Singapore-based ride-hailing giant Grab announced the launch of its Grab for Good program, an initiative that aims to create more opportunities for Southeast Asians in the digital economy. Through partnerships with governments, companies, educational institutions, and nonprofits, the Grab for Good program sets out to help 5 million micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses digitize their workflows and processes and bring digital inclusion and literacy to 3 million Southeast Asians. Grab group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan stated, “If the private sector actively creates programs for local communities, technology can be within reach for many, and the learning of new skills can immediately improve the livelihoods for many more people in Southeast Asia.”

Manila Water Foundation named Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year. On September 20th, Manila Water Foundation (MWF), the social development arm of Manila Water, was awarded Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year award in recognition of its work in bringing water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to marginalized communities. MWF’s Integrated WASH programs focus on providing access to clean and potable water to rural and marginalized communities as well as encouraging behavioral changes to improve hygiene and sanitation practices. Asia’s Community Care Company of the Year Award is part of the Asia Corporate Excellence and Sustainability (ACES) award and given to companies leading significant, innovative and inspirational corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns. 

THE INNOVATORS

Japan’s US$1.5 trillion pension fund to go all in on green bonds. Green bonds raise money for climate and environmental projects, and they can be issued by private companies, international organizations, and governments. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, “Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) will begin allocating substantial amounts of money to bonds with an environmental purpose as early as the fiscal year beginning next April.” The GPIF is Japan’s largest public investor by assets, managing ¥159 trillion (US$1.5 trillion). While the GPIF already owns a small amount of green bonds, this move has the potential to influence other institutional investors by deepening the market for these bonds. This move comes amidst the Fund’s new focus on environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing. 

Aavishkaar Group raises US$37 million in fresh financing from Dutch development bank. One of the world’s largest impact investors, Aavishkaar Group currently manages assets of about US$1 billion. The Mumbai-based social capital investor recently raised US$27 million in fresh financing from Dutch development finance institution FMO. According to the chief executive of Aavishkaar Group, a substantial portion of proceeds from this new round will be used to build the groundwork for expanding its operations to Africa and Southeast Asia. FMO said in a statement, “With this investment into the group, we hope to help the Aavishkaar Group reduce the vulnerability of India’s, Southeast Asia’s, and Africa’s low-income population…We will work with Aavishkaar to help them build their own institution so that they can focus on what they do well: building companies, backing entrepreneurs, and unlocking innovative ideas.”

Who’s Doing Good?

8 July 2019 - 21 July 2019

THE GIVERS

Philanthropist Merle Hinrich helps develop the next generation of Asian leaders in trade. In conversation with CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro for Hong Kong Tatler, Merle Hinrich discusses the importance of scholarships to his philanthropy. The founder and executive chairman of Global Sources established his eponymous foundation in 2012 to promote and build leadership in sustainable trade. Hinrich explains how the Foundation collaborates with scholars, employers, and university faculty to nurture the next generation of global trade leaders. The Foundation involves other companies in designing its scholarship program as well as university faculty in developing education for careers in trade. In the interview, Hinrich ultimately reflects on the importance of company involvement in the education of future employees–a value his foundation embodies through its initiatives.

Blue book on Chinese charity in 2018 released. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released the China Blue Book (2019) on July 13. The report is devoted to the history and development of China’s charitable sector. It provides new perspectives, methods, and materials that have been previously leveraged for national reforms related to the sector. The 2018 iteration highlights that the total amount of donations in China is estimated to be ¥112.8 billion (approximately US$16 billion). However, this is a decrease of about 26% in the total amount of social donations since 2017. On the other hand, the report highlights an increase of more than 50% in contribution value of volunteer services from 2017. In documenting the evolving characteristics and trends over the past ten years, this report offers insights into China’s modern philanthropy. 

THE THINKERS

Bill Drayton underscores social entrepreneurship as key to India’s success. Known as the pioneer of social entrepreneurship, Bill Drayton sheds light on social responsibility and “change-makers” in conversation with Forbes India. The founder and CEO of Ashoka comments on how the business and social sectors are experiencing a structural revolution as they grow more interconnected. On the topic of social entrepreneurship in India, Drayton states that “Leading social entrepreneurs are central to India (or any country) succeeding,” and adds, “India has a huge opportunity to be a world leader by adapting an ‘everyone a change-maker’ culture.” According to the article, Drayton underscores that if India can harness the potential of social entrepreneurship, the country will be poised to lead the world in areas like climate change, technology, and health.

THE NONPROFITS

Singapore’s smaller charities to benefit from governance and fundraising training curriculum. Smaller charities in Singapore will soon have access to training opportunities that can help them meet national standards on governance and fundraising. Singapore’s Commissioner of Charities has signed an agreement with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to jointly develop a training curriculum that will equip charities with skills like fundraising, leadership, and volunteer management. This course costs SG$100 (approximately US$75), and 30 participants will join the inaugural program set to start on August 17. The Commissioner of Charities has also issued an annual report template to further assist smaller charities in writing their own annual report. Grace Fu, Singapore’s Minister of Culture, Community, and Youth, highlighted the importance of these initiatives in raising the standard of the charity sector. According to The Straits Times, she noted, “This partnership with SUSS is a step toward raising the capabilities in the sector so that it can serve more beneficiaries and continue to gain public trust.”

THE BUSINESSES

Students in the Philippines gather for the Aboitiz High School Scholars General Assembly and Career Clinic. The Manila Bulletin highlights how the Aboitiz Foundation, the corporate foundation of the Aboitiz Group, has evolved its CSR initiatives “from one-time donations to carefully designed programs that empower its beneficiaries to pursue their aspirations.” Earlier this month, the Aboitiz Foundation held its annual Aboitiz High School Scholars General Assembly and Career Clinic, which convened hundreds of secondary students. This event aims to support high school students by providing lessons related to their post-secondary academic careers. This program, which equips scholars with practical career-related knowledge and coaching, also includes plenary sessions facilitated by guest speakers on topics such as digital citizenship. In addition to programs like this, the Aboitiz Foundation is currently developing and implementing CSR 2.0 projects that are aligned with the Group’s core competencies.

Companies are driving teacher development in India through innovative interventions. Companies have been leveraging digital technology to improve teacher quality and learning outcomes in rural India. Korea-based tech company TagHive designed and piloted a comprehensive off-line digital solution–Class Saathi. The app gives administrators real time access to statistics on teacher performance and analysis of student learning outcomes. Companies outside of the education sector, including Tata Steel, Dell, and Feedback Infra, are also supporting these efforts through their CSR initiatives. For example, Tata Steel developed a Bridge Language Inventory (BLI) app for Odia and Hindi speaking teachers to improve communication with children in Ho and Santhal communities. Tata Steel’s CSR Division has also installed computers in education resource centers and residential bridge courses and has distributed 250 tablets for 125 projects.

Korea’s top steelmaker POSCO raises US$500 million through ESG bonds. Korea’s POSCO announced that it has raised US$500 million by selling ESG (environment, social, governance) bonds. This type of sustainability debt instrument aims to finance corporate activities that improve and advance corporate performance in environmental, social responsibility, and governance areas. Through this bond issuance, POSCO’s CEO Choi Jeong-woo intends to “beef up our renewable energy business and material business for electric vehicle batteries.” It was also stated that the funds will be used to support the growth of the steel industry and other environmental projects. According to the article, “the five-year debt carries an interest rate of 2.874 percent and will be listed on the Singapore Exchange.”

Citibank Taiwan awarded “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award.” Citibank Taiwan has earned the “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award,” from Excellence Magazine, for the third year running. In this year alone, Citibank Taiwan has initiated several public welfare initiatives, the most noteworthy being its assistance to the International Paralympics Committee. One of its environmental initiatives involved helping the St. Camillus Long-Term Care Center in Yilan County to install a solar energy system and apply for a Taiwan Renewable Energy Certificate. This system allows the Center to sell produced energy on an energy certificate exchange platform, while reducing carbon emissions by 10 tonnes per year. Citibank also started the “Pathways to Progress” program in 2016, and it has supported skills development for around 800 youths. Over 650 of these young learners have gone on to access education or employment opportunities. According to the Taipei Times, Citibank has been deeply invested in Taiwan for more than 50 years.

THE INNOVATORS

Can venture philanthropy turn on Southeast Asia to clean energy? Philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald is using her family’s money to help the world transition to clean energy. At the AVPN Conference 2019 in Singapore, she shared about the importance of leveraging venture philanthropy to aid the clean energy movement in Southeast Asia. She established the Growald Family Fund with her husband to fund and scale innovative ventures in clean energy. In Southeast Asia, where coal is gaining share in the energy mix, the Fund has also been informing policymakers of the pressing need to switch to clean energy. The Fund’s climate finance director for Southeast Asia, Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, stated, “If we are serious about stopping carbon-intensive infrastructure, the finance side of the conversation has to shift significantly.” She added, “We see a big opportunity in working with Asian philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals to create change together.”

Who’s Doing Good?

24 June 2019 - 7 July 2019

THE GIVERS

Alibaba to contribute US$145 million donation to women’s football. The Chinese women’s national football team will receive ¥1 billion (US$145 million) in donations from Chinese online giant Alibaba. Alipay, the mobile payment platform of Alibaba, will fund the bulk of the initiative. Additional contributions will come from the respective foundations of Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. The donation will be deployed over the coming decade towards injury prevention and treatment, career development of retired players, technical development, coach education, and youth development. According to this Channel News Asia article, the three parties aim to make football “more sustainable and accessible to girls and women across the nation.” Despite underfunding, the Chinese women’s national team has qualified for seven of the eight Women’s World Cups, including this year’s Cup in France. 

East Asia’s young rich redefine the concept of family legacy. A recent report, Passing the Torch: Bridging mindset gaps between high-net-worth generations in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore, highlights a shift in family business and philanthropy. The study, which was conducted by HSBC and commissioned by The Economist, reveals that high-net-worth individuals are giving their heirs flexibility in taking the family business in a new direction. Increasingly, the younger generation is redefining their family legacies through establishing charitable foundations or engaging in new CSR initiatives under the umbrella of their family business. At the intersection of new wealth and new ideas, the younger generation is redefining family legacy as they strive to create long-term social or environmental impact at the helm of their family business.

THE THINKERS

Muhammad Yunus underscores the power of social enterprises run by women and young people. Ahead of a social business event in Thailand, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus talks about the impact of social enterprises, especially those run by women and young people. In conversation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he highlighted, “Women and young people perhaps understand these problems better because they are most affected by them.” As social entrepreneurship burgeons across the region, some Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have passed legislation or revised laws to support social business ventures. To aid these developments, Yunus highlights the importance of adapting educational institutions and financial systems to encourage entrepreneurship and social business.

Philanthropy is still the backbone of social action. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro’s letter in the Financial Times gives insight into the relationship between philanthropy and impact investing. In a recent study, CAPS found that 59 percent and 66 percent of social enterprises in Hong Kong and Japan respectively report receiving philanthropic or government grants. In fact, many social enterprises in Asia depend on philanthropy and government grants as angel investment. Shapiro’s letter is a prelude to CAPS’ upcoming report on effective social enterprise ecosystems in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand, set to be published this fall.

THE BUSINESSES

Prudence Foundation and AVPN announce winners of inaugural Disaster Tech Innovation Competition. Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, and AVPN launched the Disaster Tech Innovation Competition earlier this year. The competition aims to “leverage technology solutions for disaster prevention and recovery efforts in the region.” The finalists, comprised of both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations, covered markets including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Taiwan. FieldSight, a mobile platform that supports disaster reconstruction activities, won First Prize. According to FieldSight director Justin Henceroth, the mobile platform was first launched in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes and has since been implemented at 60,000 sites in 16 markets. The organization received a grant of US$100,000 to help fund the implementation and scaling up of its Disaster Tech solution.

Development impact bond (DIB) boosts education in India. The Quality Education India DIB was launched in September 2018 by the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and Tata Trusts, together with local partners. As the largest development impact bond in the area to date, the bond funds initiatives towards improving literacy and numeracy skills for more than 300,000 children in India. According to a recent evaluation, “40 percent of participating schools met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy outcomes compared with non-participating schools.” The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation country director for India highlighted, “The early signs are that outcome-based funding models, with an incentive attached, have the potential to drive quality in education and attract new forms of capital to sustain it.”

Japan’s Suntory joins rival Coca-Cola to encourage plastic recycling in Vietnam. Reuters reports on a new alliance between Suntory, Coca-Cola, and Nestle–the latest in partnerships among global plastics and consumer goods companies. The Japanese beverage giant, Suntory Holdings, plans to switch out pure petroleum-based plastic bottles for bottles made from recycled or plant-based materials by 2030. However, achieving this goal will be challenging due to a lack of sophisticated recycling systems in Suntory’s Southeast Asian markets, such as Vietnam. The alliance, which also includes the local operations of Tetra Pak and NutiFood, will call on the Vietnamese government to, “plan a system spanning collection and facilities for recycling.” This push comes at a time when Vietnam is among the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean. Earlier this month Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that he wants Vietnam to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, but companies are pushing for large-scale recycling systems in addition to government restrictions on plastic bottles.

THE INNOVATORS

Sustainable investments make up nearly a fifth of rich Asian investors’ portfolios. According to a survey by Standard Chartered Private Bank, high-net-worth (HNW) investors in Asia have increased their allocation to sustainable investments to almost a fifth of their portfolios. The survey covered 416 HNW individuals residing in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India with a minimum of US$1 million in investments. Chinese investors are leading as the survey found “a majority of [Chinese] respondents have already allocated between a quarter to half of their funds to sustainable investments.” The study also revealed that in Asia knowledge of sustainable investing among investors has improved by 20 percent from 2018. The top cited motivation among the HNW investors was to “create a better future,” followed by “doing good while earning a profit.” The growing interest and awareness of sustainable investing among HNW investors is an encouraging trend for the region.

Impact investing in Asia to gain as US$15 trillion set to change hands among world’s wealthiest families. Impact investing in Asia has an opportunity to gain from the US$15.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected to occur over the next decade, according to global wealth researcher Wealth-X. While only US$1.88 trillion of this total is expected to be transferred in Asia, the transfer of wealth will occur amidst a growing ESG sector and growing interest in impact investing. With the younger generation soon to be at the helm of their families’ wealth, this intergenerational transfer is a fruitful opportunity for impact investing to grow. Wealth-X additionally notes that the US$8.8 trillion expected to change hands in Europe and North America bodes well for Asia. Due to friendlier regulatory environments, wealthy investors are increasingly setting up family office branches in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 June 2019 - 23 June 2019

THE GIVERS

Li Ka-shing donates HK$118 million to Shantou University. Every undergraduate attending Shantou University in China will have their tuition paid for thanks to Hong Kong’s richest man. Li Ka-shing established the university in 1981 to aid the development of his hometown of Shantou. His donation of HK$118 million (approximately US$15 million) will grant a full scholarship to every student enrolled in the university for the next four years. The donation will be administered through his eponymous foundation, which he founded in 1980. The Hong Kong billionaire has exhibited great dedication to philanthropy, having donated over HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) to schools, hospitals, and universities in 27 countries and regions. Li has stated that he plans to bequeath a third of his wealth to philanthropy and charitable causes.

Indian billionaire Azim Premji’s retirement casts spotlight on private philanthropy in India. Azim Premji announced last week that he will retire from his position as executive chairman and managing director of Wipro. As India’s second-richest person with an estimated net worth of US$22.4 billion, Premji has grown to be an inspiring philanthropist, committing over half of his wealth to philanthropy. Premji was the first Indian to sign The Giving Pledge and has donated US$21 billion to date. While ultra-high-net-worth individuals in India are giving less than they did five years ago, according to Dasra and Bain’s 2019 India Philanthropy Report, Premji is a notable exception. His retirement casts a spotlight on private philanthropy in India and the opportunity for more business leaders and philanthropists to invest their wealth in the social sector.

Japan’s Rugby World Cup mascots call on fans to help disadvantaged children in Asia. ChildFund and World Rugby are partnering for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by Japan this fall. As part of their Impact Beyond legacy program, the Rugby World Cup’s two mascots will be ambassadors to ChildFund Pass It Back, a sport-for-development organization. Pass It Back has benefited more than 10,000 disadvantaged children across Asia–over half being girls and young women–by integrating life skills curricula with tag rugby. With a pledge of a record £1.5 million (US$1.9 million), the global rugby community and commercial partners for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will enable over 25,000 disadvantaged youth from across Asia to participate in the Pass It Back program.

THE THINKERS

Japan’s social investment funds connect social enterprises to private capital. As interest in social ventures increases among investors, third-party organizations in Japan are stepping in to connect social enterprises with private capital. This includes Kamakura Investment Management, which works to facilitate a cross-sector ecosystem by connecting companies it invests in to social ventures it supports. Kamakura’s flagship mutual fund, Yui 2101, which initially received skepticism from people in the industry, now boasts assets under management of US$340 million from more than 19,000 investors. Another key player working to foster a cross-sector ecosystem is the Japan Social Impact Investment Foundation (SIIF), which invested in Japan’s first health-care social impact bond.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) releases its 2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey. In its ninth iteration, GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey provides data on and insights into the increasing scale and maturity of the global impact investing industry. The report draws on responses from 266 leading impact investing organizations from around the world who collectively manage US$239 billion. The report also includes Asia-specific findings. South Asia is reported to be the second-fastest-growing region of interest among four-year repeat respondents, with 40 percent of all respondents planning to increase their allocations to it. For the array of actors entering Asia’s nascent impact investing industry, this report offers a snapshot of impact investing activity from global counterparts.

THE NONPROFITS

Cambodian nonprofit wins Australian award for film addressing domestic violence. Siem Reap-based nonprofit This Life Cambodia won the “Best Social Media Campaign of the Year” at the Not-For-Profit Technology Awards in Australia. The nonprofit leveraged the power of social media to run its End Violence Together campaign for 16 days in November and December 2018. The campaign included a two-minute film depicting “a world in which women and children weren’t wearing helmets to protect themselves from road accidents, but wore them inside their homes to protect themselves from domestic violence.” According to The Phnom Penh Post, the video went viral and was viewed more than a million times. This Life Cambodia is also a finalist for the global Grassroots Justice Prize.

THE BUSINESSES

Korea’s Amorepacific signs MOU with TerraCycle to recycle empty bottles. Recycling efforts will soon get a boost with an agreement signed between Amorepacific Corporate and global environment company TerraCycle. A memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties in June includes objectives to recycle at least 100 tons of empty plastic bottles annually for three years and to increase the usage of recycled empty bottles for Amorepacific products. Amorepacific is a leading Korean beauty company and has collected 1,736 tons of empty cosmetic bottles over the last 15 years. The company has been running its Greencycle campaign to recycle these empty cosmetic bottles or upcycle them into creative artworks. The company is also currently studying different recycling opportunities to mitigate environmental harm caused by used cosmetic bottles.

Collaboration among stakeholders key to achieving development goals. In the lead-up to the G-20 Osaka Summit, Japan has outlined action plans for achieving the SDGs through regional revitalization, women empowerment, and Society 5.0–a program based on human-centered society, leveraging data, and new technologies. Business leaders have also been vocalizing their support. The Keidanren, also known as the Japan Business Foundation, has updated its Charter of Corporate Behavior to support efforts for achieving the SDGs. The integration of SDG principles and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into business strategies and investments is promising, but the article highlights the need for more collaboration at the global level to achieve the SDGs. At the first SDG Summit in New York this September, the international community will need to discuss progress made and a collaborative way forward.

THE INNOVATORS

Asian banks curb lending to coal plants after pressure from investment funds. Asian banks are stopping loans to coal plants as investors increasingly adopt environmentally conscious investment principles. The latest move came from Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in May and banks across Asia, such as DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation in Singapore, have also announced similar measures. This is in line with a surge in global investments based on ESG factors, which have reached US$30.7 trillion as of 2018–a 34 percent increase in just two years–according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. George Iguchi of Nissay Asset Management stated, “These three factors [environment, social, and governance] are good indicators of what vision each company has for its business. Businesses with a good vision can generate better returns [that are] sustainable.”

UOB Venture Management expands its impact investing initiative. UOB Venture Management will be launching a new impact fund in the second half this year. Named the Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF II), it will continue the Fund’s focus on investment in education, healthcare, and agriculture as well as extend into new areas like clean energy and affordable housing. Deals for the Fund will be assessed based on a company’s ability to scale its business and the company’s impact on low-income communities. UOB Venture Management started the first series of the Fund in 2015 and has invested in nine companies across China, Indonesia, and Myanmar. These companies have strived to improve the lives of low-income communities by including them as consumers, suppliers, or distributors.