Who’s Doing Good?

18th March 2019 - 24th March 2019

THE GIVERS

Bill Gates lauds Azim Premji for commitment to philanthropy. This past weekend, Bill Gates took to Twitter to acknowledge Wipro chairman Azim Premji and his most recent bequest of 34% of Wipro’s shares, worth about US$7.5 billion, to the Azim Premji Foundation. With this new charitable contribution, Premji has now donated a total of US$21 billion over the past several years to his philanthropic initiatives, making him one of the world’s top philanthropists. Since 2014, the Azim Premji Foundation has supported over 150 organizations engaged in improving the lives of disadvantaged, under-served, and marginalized communities in India. Gates tweeted, “I’m inspired by Azim Premji’s continued commitment to philanthropy. His latest contribution will make a tremendous impact.”

China’s new billionaire class gives rise to philanthropy boom. The 2019 report from the China Philanthropy program at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation highlights driving forces that have fueled China’s philanthropy boom, including the country’s recent economic growth and laws and regulations that gradually legitimized and incentivized private giving. While the largest percentage of Chinese donors comes from the real estate sector, the report also highlights prominent Chinese philanthropists, including China’s richest man, Jack Ma, who recently announced he was retiring from his company to focus on education philanthropy. Beyond the givers, China’s maturing philanthropy scene has also spurred the growth of new philanthropic infrastructure, buttressed by intermediary organizations that gather data, facilitate peer learning, and train donors to be more strategic in their giving.

THE THINKERS

Southeast Asian business leaders must step up and invest in development efforts. While economists forecast Indonesia to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050, the country still faces development and public health challenges, such as a high burden of tuberculosis. Dato’ Sri Dr. Tahir, chairman of Mayapada Group and founder of the Tahir Foundation, calls on private sector leaders to recognize their critical role in public health and development in emerging economies in Southeast Asia. While the efforts of a partnership between the Tahir Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and government public health services have helped Indonesia achieve a 44% decrease in TB mortality rates and 14% decrease in TB incidence rates from 2000 to 2017, the private sector can propel these efforts with financial support to expand access for all Indonesians to benefit from these resources and services.

Program trains rural women in India to raise healthier goats and gain financial independence. Extensive research shows that when women have control over finances, they are more likely to spend it in ways that improve the quality of life for their family. In rural India, goat rearing is an important source of income, managed almost exclusively by women, and the money from which is kept in their hands. Project Mesha, which is run by the Aga Khan Foundation and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, trains more than 200 women to be “pashu sakhis” in four communities in Bihar – one of the poorest states in India and home to one of the country’s largest population of goats. By learning how to vaccinate, deworm, and provide other preventative care to goats in their community, women can increase their income by charging small fees for their veterinary services, promoting goat care in their communities, and reducing the loss of income due to the high mortality rate of goats. Through working with local women’s groups, the program aims to increase incomes for 50,000 of India’s poorest women by 30%.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong NGO Leadership Programme nurtures social service network for the future. The nine-month NGO leadership program is a tripartite collaboration between The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Work, UBS, and Operation Santa Claus, one of the largest charitable donation drives in Hong Kong. The program aims to encourage more volunteering, nurture leaders in the social sector, and build a lasting network that will help with collaborative problem solving of social challenges in the future. The winning participant of each year’s program becomes a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus, and past winners have been granted more than US$102,000 to invest in their service. Last year’s winner was Kenneth Choi Man-kin, the general manager of social enterprise Gingko House. Since its founding in 2015, the leadership program has trained 103 participants from 87 organizations and has helped kickstart numerous social service projects.

THE BUSINESSES

Global Wholesaler METRO to join forces with One Drop Foundation to provide safe water access and sanitation in India. On World Water Day, March 22, international wholesale and food specialist METRO launched the METRO Water Initiative in partnership with the One Drop Foundation. The joint initiative will collaborate with an array of actors on the ground including local governments, civil society organizations, and microfinancing institutions to provide permanent access to sustainable and safe water and sanitation to more than a quarter of a million people in India. The initiative will focus on supporting the northern District of Sheohar, in Bihar, India where nearly half of the region lacks safe water coverage. This project highlights the importance of collaboration as emphasized by Heiko Hutmacher, Chief Human Resources Officer and Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for Sustainability, “By partnering for a common goal, we have the power to change the lives of more than a quarter of a million people for the better.”

Chairperson and CEO of Emperor Watch and Jewellery, Cindy Yeung, talks about the company’s charitable causes.  At the helm of the family business — one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious retailers — Cindy Yeung follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather by giving back to the community through charitable initiatives with the company. In a recent interview, part of Hong Kong Tatler’s ‘The Next Step’ series that highlights Hong Kong-based philanthropic women, Yeung shares about her early inspiration from her father, Dr. Albert Yeung. Galvanized by his philanthropic work of founding the Emperor Foundation and the Albert Yeung Sau Sing Charity Foundation, she spearheaded new partnerships with charities including Plan International, Chi Heng Foundation, and Project We Can. In efforts to strengthen the company’s commitment to improving the education and health conditions of underprivileged children around the world Yeung also encourages staff to actively participate in their own way.

THE INNOVATORS

How socially responsible investing can help end modern slavery. While socially responsible investing has gained momentum around the world, the practice has focused more on environmental and governance issues, partly due to extensive data and indicators within these two streams. Unlike environmental metrics that have been developed to track global warming and deforestation, social impact metrics are still amorphous and underdeveloped. In the case of modern slavery, the market lacks a standardized set of quantifiable indicators that companies can use as a reporting standard and that asset managers can base their investments on. The development of more robust metrics to track social issues like modern slavery will be pertinent in paving the way for investors to have a more tangible impact, especially in Asia and the Pacific region where 62% of the estimated 40 million victims of modern slavery live.

Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) celebrates its 10-year anniversary with inaugural art competition and exhibition. Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange, a pioneer in impact investing that focuses on empowering women, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with its inaugural She Is More Youth Art Competition. The competition, which is headed by the organization’s IIX Foundation, aims to harness the power of art to give voice to women, and it will culminate in an exhibition set to open in May. Durreen Shahnaz, founder and CEO of IIX, highlighted that the event aligns with her vision for IIX, which is to provide “a chance for us to change the narrative of women as victims, to recognize them as solution-builders; to drive women’s empowerment by building opportunities for everyone to value and give voice to women.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Young volunteers in India are on a mission to feed the poor. Robin Hood Army, a group of more than 270 young volunteers who are largely students and young working professionals, has been collecting surplus food from hotels, restaurants, and wedding halls to feed the hungry. Modeled on the Re-Food program in Portugal, which fights hunger at no-cost, the organization began working in Delhi, India in 2014 as a zero-funds organization – operating with no revenue, office space, or employees. To ensure food is reaching the communities most in need, the Robin Hood Army volunteers conduct location surveys to gauge the need for food, collecting data on the number of family members, the number of children in each family, and the family’s source of livelihood. From last September till now, the group of volunteers has conducted 154 food drives and has fed nearly 30,000 people.

Who’s Doing Good?

11th March 2019 - 17th 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?

4 March 2019 - 10 March 2019

THE GIVERS

British Asian Trust announces new partnership with British Telecom (BT) to launch program in India. The British Asian Trust, which was founded by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia, will launch a three-year program in partnership with BT to employ digital technology to improve girls’ education in India. Working with local sector leaders and social delivery organizations, the new partnership will explore innovative ways in which technology can be used to break down social barriers and help improve education and employment opportunities for around 500,000 young girls. The program will work in and around BT’s India operations in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, and Kolkata. BT Group’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, expressed enthusiasm for the new partnership, “The world of work has changed enormously during the 30 years BT has been in India. We recognize that digital technologies have the potential to transform opportunities for this and future generations of girls.”

THE THINKERS

Despite strong philanthropic momentum, India still falls short on funding needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2019 heralds the growth of social sector funding over the past five years. The report highlights an increase in private funding at a rate of 15% per year and public funding at a rate of about 10% per year. Funding by individual philanthropists grew the most, increasing by 21% per year. Even if India continues to sustain its current funding growth rate and channels all philanthropic capital into the SDGs, the country will still face an annual shortfall that augurs poorly for achieving the SDGs. While domestic private philanthropy is burgeoning and outpacing public funding growth in India, the report calls on domestic corporations and India’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals to enhance the level and nature of their giving.

Collaboration and women empowerment underscored as key factors of effective philanthropy in India. In response to the release of Bain’s India Philanthropy Report 2019, leaders in the philanthropic sector called for more collaborative action and women empowerment. Roopa Purushothaman, chief economist and head of policy advocacy at Tata Sons, encouraged stakeholders to look at building a “carer economy,” which supports caregivers of children and elders. Anant Bhagwati, a partner at Bain and director at Dasra, a foundation focused on strategic philanthropy, highlighted the critical role of collaborative action for India’s philanthropic spending to reach its full potential. Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani echoed Bhagwati’s views, emphasizing the need for civil society, markets, and government to collaborate for better results.

Why investing in women and girls will take off in 2019. New research published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review delineates the economic benefits of gender parity, highlighting that women could raise global GDP by up to US$28 trillion or 26% in 2025 if they were to attain equal participation. A McKinsey report estimates that advancing women’s equality in Asia-Pacific countries would raise their collective GDP by US$4.5 trillion in 2025, a 12% increase over the business-as-usual trajectory. While growth in gender lens investing is constrained by a sparse pipeline of investees as well as a lack of well-defined metrics, a better understanding of the benefits of gender impact investing, celebrating success stories, and supporting women-focused intermediaries can all help drive more investing in women and girls in the Asian region and boost global prosperity.

THE NONPROFITS

Nonprofits focus on “secondary needs” in efforts to rebuild communities in Tohoku. Monday marked eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster and devastated coastal communities, most notably in the Tohoku region. While Japan’s Reconstruction Agency announced in December that full restoration of the region would not be complete by March 2021 as originally scheduled, nonprofits and volunteers have been playing a major role in helping with recovery. In addition to physical reconstruction, nonprofits and local government are also focusing on “secondary needs” of reconstruction, including emotional and social well-being. One nonprofit, Playground of Hope, is working to restore a sense of community and strengthen emotional and social support by providing outdoor play equipment for children and holding community workshops.

THE BUSINESSES

Google launches a free mobile application to teach English and Hindi to children in India. Google’s new offline mobile application, Bolo, is designed to help children in rural areas with poor mobile coverage improve their English and Hindi. The application uses speech recognition and text-to-speech technology with friendly cartoon characters to make language learning more fun for children. Google has developed and released Bolo in the name of philanthropy, stating that it is not looking to monetize the application and that the application is completely safe for children to use. A recent study showed that only 44% of grade five students in India are capable of reading books written for grade two students, and in response, Google stated that its reading-tutor application can help improve these numbers. In the pilot scheme with almost 1,000 children, results showed that 64% of participants improved their reading skills after using the Bolo application.

Lessons from SK Group on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Asia. Companies and institutional investors play a major role in driving innovation, and Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, sheds light on the group’s recent initiatives that focus on accountability and innovation. One example he highlights is the group’s “Double Bottom Line” (DBL) initiative, by which the group reports all of its 17 SK affiliates’ contribution to social value alongside operational profits. Another CSR program, “Social Progress Credit,” was highlighted for its support for social enterprises through cash incentives. With an early acknowledgment of its responsibility in Korea, the SK Group has been a leader in CSR, and its deep-rooted commitment to social good is an exemplar for other companies in the region looking to cut through the noise and be recognized in the CSR space.

THE INNOVATORS

Recognition of social enterprises in Asia needed first before regulation. Social enterprises have proliferated across Asia over the past decade, and governments are increasingly recognizing the role that social enterprises play in solving social, economic, and environmental challenges. Last week, Thailand passed a social enterprise act that gives tax breaks and other incentives to registered profit-generating ventures with a social impact mission. This act puts Thailand among the few countries in the region with legislation aimed at such ventures. Romy Cahyadi, chief executive at Indonesia-based Instellar, a company offering incubation and acceleration programs for social entrepreneurs, highlights that recognizing social enterprises as legal entities can offer greater clarity to the sector. However, for many countries where the social enterprise sector is still nascent, there is a greater need for awareness of and education on social enterprises first.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Chinese end-of-life care volunteers bring comfort to the elderly. In 2018, China had 249 million people aged 60 and above, accounting for 17.9% of its total population. With the fastest-growing elderly population in the world, among which nearly 50 million are critically ill, there is a high demand for elderly services and care. One nonprofit, Love and Companion Center, provides end-of-life care for those in need and enlists volunteers from a 500-member group chat on WeChat every week. Since it was established in 2014, the nonprofit has provided over 10,000 hospice services for the elderly and their families through the help of its volunteers.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 February 2019 - 3 March 2019

THE GIVERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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.

THE VOLUNTEERS

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.

THE BUSINESSES

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Habitat for Humanity Philippines and University of Cebu formalize ₱5 million (approximately US$96,000) partnership. For the next three years, the University of Cebu will support Habitat for Humanity projects, including building new homes and training youth leaders through the Habitat Young Leaders Build Leadership Academy. Margarita Moran-Floirendo, Board Member and Ambassador of Habitat for Humanity Philippines stated, “The youth is one of the leading voices in supporting our advocacy. We are grateful that the University of Cebu is one with us in furthering our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” The program will focus on creating future socially conscious leaders through giving equal access to youth to gain and exercise leadership skills.

PM Narendra Modi to donate Seoul Peace Prize money to Namami Gange Programme. India’s Prime Minister received the Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, fostering economic global growth, and furthering the development of democracy. Modi has dedicated the US$200,000 prize money to the Namami Gange Programme, a flagship program of his government focused on abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganges river. Modi is the 14th recipient of the award, and past laureates include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and international organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

THE THINKERS

Despite an embryonic ecosystem, sustainable finance is growing quickly in China. High net-worth Chinese investors topped a UBS Group AG Global Survey assessing interest in sustainable investing last year, and new developments in both the public and private sectors are pushing this momentum forward. Leading impact investors highlight the array of opportunities for sustainable investing in China with an emphasis on clean energy as the country is the top target for clean energy investment globally. While 74% of wealthy Chinese investors—compared with just 32% of their U.S. and U.K. counterparts—expect sustainable investing to be the new norm in the next decade, the regulatory and legal framework that supports ESG investing still needs to be strengthened to make ESG data more reliable and impact investing less difficult.

AVPN and Prudence Foundation launch the Disaster Tech Innovation Programme. Singapore-based Asia Venture Philanthropy Network and the Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, announced the launch of their Disaster Tech Innovation Programme to raise awareness of “Disaster Tech,” innovative and viable technology solutions to protect and save lives before, during, and after natural disasters. The program will center on a competition for both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations to crowdsource innovative solutions to enhance existing disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia Pacific. The Prudence Foundation has been promoting disaster preparedness across Asia since 2013 and hopes to encourage more organizations to contribute in this area as the Asia Pacific region is the most affected by natural disasters.

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society founder, Ruth Shapiro, highlights India’s CSR mandate. In a recent interview, Shapiro discusses India’s progressive CSR requirements and the need for stronger monitoring to ensure compliance. Shapiro brings attention to India’s role as a leader in CSR and their potential to be an example for other countries in implementing similar requirements.

THE NONPROFITS

Tech platforms in India are helping CSR efforts connect with small nonprofits. As the first country to make CSR mandatory, India’s CSR initiatives have developed significantly over the past few years. However, most CSR projects partner with large nonprofits on their radar, leaving smaller nonprofits often overlooked due to lack of exposure and accessibility. Several online social platforms, such as social marketplaces, have developed in response to this geographic bias to fill the gap that exists between nonprofits and their causes, donors, volunteers, and corporates who want to collaborate. These online social marketplaces are now enabling corporates to engage with CSR activities that more closely align with their CSR mission by connecting them to nonprofits directly that are working in their selected cause.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung to invest more in education programs. As part of its CSR, Samsung Electronics plans to increase its investments in the field of youth education. On February 18, 2018, the company’s three division heads announced to employees that the renewed mission of Samsung’s social investment in education will be on “enabling people.” With this goal in mind, a particular target will be put on developing programs for teens. Although Samsung has conducted various CSR activities in the past, this announcement is notable in that it comes a month after its de facto leader and vice chairman Lee Jae-yong pledged to fully commit in taking on social responsibility as Korea’s leading conglomerate in a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House.

THE INNOVATORS

Machine learning can double social impact if sufficient data are available. Gaining attention at the center of international conferences and Davos-launched initiatives, machine learning is being heralded for its potential to drive social delivery. IDinsight, a nonprofit that uses data and evidence to help leaders in the social sector combat poverty, highlights four practical requirements for machine learning to accurately make predictions that allow nonprofits to enhance their impact. In employing machine learning tools to help Indian nonprofit Educate Girls, IDinsight discovered that high-quality predictor and outcome data, the capacity to act on predictions, and the ability to maintain the machine-learning algorithms are critical in ensuring relevant and accurate prediction models for informed decision-making. To truly drive social impact with machine learning, philanthropy and government will also have an important role to play in funding the collection of accurate and geographically representative data.

Joint philanthropy and impact investing can enhance efforts to meet SDGs. While impact investing and philanthropic giving have traditionally been seen as separate silos in the financial world, efforts to meet the demands of the SDGs are bringing the two forms of financing together. Many social and environmental projects that may have the potential to become viable impact investments need assistance in their early stages. Philanthropic financing can play a pivotal role in helping these organizations and projects evolve and become mature enough to attract impact investments. While the SDGs have been pushing both philanthropy and impact investing towards a common goal, stronger linkages between the two forms of financing can complement each other’s needs and requirements and scale impact to meet the huge demand.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore nonprofit, Willing Hearts, serves customized meals to the aging poor. Former businessman, Tony Tay, founded Willing Hearts, a nonprofit aid organization wholly run by volunteers that serves the aging poor in Singapore. With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, Willing Hearts prepares and delivers customized meals to more than 6,000 low-income elderly individuals every day of the week. Tay’s nonprofit has grown significantly over the years in response to the growing demand of an aging society, and Willing Hearts now offers additional services including dental care, optical care, and legal aid.

Who’s Doing Good?

04 February 2019 - 10 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Mukesh Ambani tops Hurun India Philanthropy List 2018. From October 2017 to September 2018, Ambani and his family donated Rs 437 crore (approximately US$61.4 million). Reliance Industries’ chairman was followed by Piramal Group’s chairman, Ajay Piramal, whose son recently married Ambani’s daughter. Piramal donated Rs 200 crore (approximately US$28.1 million) during the same period, in addition to giving Rs 71 crore (approximately US$10 million) for Kerela flood relief. Other notable philanthropists on this year’s list include the Premji, Godrej, and Nadar families.

Prince Charles unveils US$100 million fund for women empowerment in South Asia. The proposed fund, led by the British Asian Trust (BAT), will channel bond investors’ money to give half a million women and girls access to better education, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities over the next five years. The BAT will seek funding from the charity units of big banks for the initial risk investments and from national governments and other big donors for underwriting the final payment. Announcing the initiative, Prince Charles, called it the BAT’s “most ambitious venture to date.”

THE THINKERS

The Foundation Center and GuideStar merge to create Candid, a mega data portal. Two leading nonprofit and philanthropic intermediaries merge to create a data portal with a worldwide reach, combining years of research and experience in the social sector. The merge has been a decade in the making with top funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Lodestar Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid., and Jacob Herald, president of GuideStar, will serve as executive vice president. Operating with a budget of approximately US$38 million, Candid. will leverage both organizations’ complementary missions, datasets, and networks to be at the forefront of information-sharing in the nonprofit sector.

Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah call for more philanthropic giving at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019. According to a recent Oxfam report, Indian billionaires have added Rs 2,200 crore (approximately US$307 million) per day to their wealth, however in the “commitment to reducing inequality index,” India ranked 147 out of 157 countries. Rohini Nilekani and Vidya Shah, two leading female entrepreneurs and philanthropists, brought light to these numbers at The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019, and they advocated for more giving to causes such as healthcare, education, and social protection. In accord, they encouraged greater engagement in philanthropy, calling on community members to devote more time and money to causes that address the country’s glaring inequality.

How nonprofits can help donor-advised fund philanthropists listen and learn. The use of donor-advised funds (DAF) has increased in popularity over the years as philanthropists seek greater impact through more organized and thoughtful forms of giving. As DAF donors work to enhance their giving portfolios, they should listen to feedback from the communities and individuals they seek to help. This enhanced communication between donors, intermediaries, and communities is an emerging trend in philanthropy, and DAF donors are poised to advance the practice of listening. The article highlights new approaches such as test-and-learn gifts, volunteering, survey and focus groups, and expert consultation.

THE NONPROFITS

Five Hong Kong charities that save the environment. Hong Kong Tatler highlighted five nonprofits for their work in environmental protection: Clean Air Network, EcoDrive Hong Kong, Ocean Recovery Alliance, Project C: Change, and The Nature Conservancy. As Hong Kong faces air quality and waste management challenges, awareness, education, and policy change will be pertinent in mitigating deleterious effects on the environment. Together, these nonprofits are raising awareness, connecting key stakeholders, and building more sustainable solutions for the future.

Nonprofits join in a campaign to reduce financial support for forest-risk businesses. According to new data released by the Forests and Finance campaign by the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Malaysian banks were the biggest funders of forest-risk activities and the least likely to have internal policies restricting environmental damage. RAN is joining forces with two nonprofits, TuK Indonesia and Profundo, to campaign for less financial support for forest-risk businesses including unsustainable palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, and timber developments, thereby reducing their negative impacts on the environment.

THE BUSINESSES

Marriot, the world’s largest hotel operator, partners with Generation Water to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. According to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, as much as 60% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from five Asian countries including Thailand. The growing tourism industry in Thailand is taking a detrimental toll on the environment, and industry leaders are recognizing their need to take responsibility. Marriot International’s director of operations for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar stated that the company understands its greater obligation and responsibility as its global footprint grows, and the hotel operator has partnered with the startup, Generation Water, to implement water plants that collect 4,000 liters of water a day from vapor condensation. Marriot has now been producing its own water for four months—reducing its number of used plastic bottles by more than 100,000 plastic bottles—and plans to expand water plants to all Marriot resorts in southern Thailand.

THE INNOVATORS

Venture fund, Quest Ventures, helps social organizations create and scale impact. A recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network has highlighted the significant growth of Southeast Asia’s impact investing ecosystem over the past decade, with US$904 million invested in the region by private impact investors. The venture fund firm, Quest Ventures, is joining other impact investors through its new impact fund to support startups addressing real-world problems. In the upcoming year, Quest Ventures plans to roll out their new fund and invest in 60 companies, 50 of them being social enterprises, in Southeast Asia to help entrepreneurs create and scale social impact in their communities. In addition to capital, the firm aims to support founders through their networks and mentorship services.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Number of volunteers in China hits hundreds of millions. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 100 million Chinese have registered as volunteers by the end of 2018. Specifically, approximately 12,000 volunteering organizations were registered by the end of 2018, collectively providing more than 1.2 billion hours of community service. A statement from the China Volunteer Service Federation said that more efforts will be made to encourage volunteers’ participation in public service and social governance, as well as improving the quality of their service.

Who’s Doing Good?

28 January 2019 - 03 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Vogue India lists most generous billionaires who are using money to address the country’s income inequity. The list features India’s richest trailblazers in philanthropy from Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, to Sangita Jindal, chairperson of the JSW Foundation. The list also highlights two of India’s billionaires, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Rohini Nilekani, who have signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet that asks billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. These twelve Indian billionaires lead the way in applying financial acumen to enhance impact, and their work is an inspiration for others to dedicate their wealth to address their country’s most pressing social issues from education to healthcare development.

THE THINKERS

Rohini Nilekani urges social sector to speak up about failure. In the social sector, success stories are celebrated with awards and funding, and this leads social organizations to quieten stories of failure. Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani highlights how this fear of failure in the social sector inhibits innovation and growth. The path to change at scale in the social sector needs experimentation; thus, the acceptance of failure is essential for the success of the social sector. Nilekani calls for more candid communication between social entrepreneurs and the philanthropic community and points to leaders in the sector to collaborate more, pool resources and experience, and take bigger risks to pave way for greater social impact.

“How charities can avoid turning off potential donors.” Sara Kim and Ann L. McGill, authors of “Helping Others by First Affirming the Self: When Self-Affirmation Reduces Ego-Defensive Downplaying of Others’ Misfortunes,” explore a common dilemma that charities face. That is, “charities dealing with distressing topics such as illness, starvation, or war have to walk a fine line: they need to increase awareness of what they do without turning off potential supports and donors.” The solution, according to Kim and McGill, lies in “self-affirmation.” The authors claim that if people were reminded of who they are at heart, they might be less likely to downplay others’ misfortunes because they would not feel threatened or defensive. Through multiple behavioral psychological experiments, the researchers observed results in which participants who completed self-affirmation tasks were more likely to donate to nonprofits with no personal relevance or connection. For example, male participants who completed the self-affirmation task read about a breast-cancer charity for longer and donated more money to it.

THE NONPROFITS

Shanghai charity makes English fun for migrant children. In recent years, a number of organizations have emerged to assist the children of migrant workers in China’s major cities. Stepping Stones, a volunteer organization that helps migrant children build fluency in English, is one of the longest-running organizations with more than 300 regular volunteer teachers. In a recent interview, the founder of Stepping Stones highlighted the legislative challenges the organization faced and the need for clearer legal guidelines and regulations for nonprofits in China. As the population of migrant workers continues to grow, organizations addressing needs of migrant children will need more support from the government and funders to emulate the same quality and scale of services that Stepping Stones has achieved over the past ten years.

Charitable foundation in China reported having spent over 250 million yuan (US$37 million) fighting poverty in 2018. Established in 2007 by the Central Committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association to prompt enterprise engagement in poverty relief and other charitable projects, the China Siyuan Foundation for Poverty Alleviation announced that it had spent over 250 million yuan to fight poverty in 2018. According to the foundation, around two million individuals benefited from its various programs—from medical care to education. In 2019, the foundation plans to spend a further increased amount of 265 million yuan (approximately US$39.3 million) for poverty alleviation.

Two Greenpeace offices shut after donation row. Environmental group Greenpeace announced it had been forced to shut two of its regional offices in India and had asked its staff to leave due to a block on its bank account after accusations of illegal donations. Since 2015, Greenpeace has been barred from receiving foreign donations, and India’s financial crime investigating agency froze the group’s bank account in October 2018.

THE BUSINESSES

Cathay Pacific enhances community engagement strategy with two new programs. Hong Kong’s home airline has partnered with Social Ventures Hong Kong to develop two new community engagement programs. The first initiative, “Cathay Changemakers,” recognizes positive contributions by Hong Kong residents and promotes their causes across a wide audience including passengers, employees, and business partners around the world. The second initiative, “World As One,” partners with the nonprofit VolTra to provide underprivileged youth, including ethnic minorities and reformed drug addicts, the opportunity to travel on volunteer work trips. Cathay Pacific hopes to effect greater social change by leveraging its strength in connecting people and places and by collaborating with partners across different sectors.

Courts Singapore employees help spring-clean homes of elderly as part of the company’s new CSR program. Courts Singapore has partnered with the nonprofit Care Community Service Society (CCSS) to launch its new CSR program: Courts Charity Home. Through the new initiative, Courts will donate products to beneficiaries served by CCSS, including elderly, at-risk youth, and disadvantaged children. To kick off the program, staff volunteers delivered new home necessities to underprivileged elderly, matched their wish-list items (such as rice-cookers and electric kettles), and helped spring-clean their homes. The launch of Courts Singapore’s new CSR program last week ushers in Chinese New Year with a strong charitable spirit and deepened commitment to service and community.

THE INNOVATORS

Globe Telecom brings digital donation channel to nonprofits. Globe Telecom, a major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines, made it easier for its over 8,000 employees and thousands of guests to donate to their chosen nonprofits through the use of GCash QR codes, raising almost ₱450,000 (approximately US$8,600) in just about two months. These funds were collected via the “Purpose Tree,” which was set up at the company’s headquarters in Manila. Any passer-by, including employees and visitors, can donate from their GCash account to their preferred charity by scanning the assigned QR code on the “Purpose Tree.” “In an era of mobile technology, potential donors want and expect to be able to act immediately. The use of GCash QR codes not only makes giving more convenient but also democratizes it. It puts control on the hands of the donors. They can choose their preferred NGO and donate any amount through GCash scan-to-pay online platform. This is much more efficient and larger in scale than traditional models like donation boxes and envelopes,” said Yoly Crisanto, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president for corporate communications at Globe Telecom.

Y Analytics launches to bring together capital and research for good. The impact measurement arm of TPG’s Rise Fund has branched off into an independent research organization—Y Analytics—to expand its research framework for informed decision-making to a larger network of investors. The organization will bring together leading economists, researchers, and capital allocators to evaluate and predict impact pre-investment and manage and measure impact thereafter. While the organization will build upon the Rise Fund’s “Impact Multiple of Money” system for informing capital in pursuit of change, it will also develop a research advisory council with partners including the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT and the World Resources Institute. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., Y Analytics will translate its new findings to both bolster the research basis for informed impact investing and advance knowledge in the field.

Who’s Doing Good?

21 January 2019 - 27 January 2019

THE GIVERS

India’s most respected business tycoons attend The Economic Times Family Business Awards. At the second annual ceremony, those who received an award shed light on their family businesses’ key to success. Shekhar Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Electricals, highlighted the importance of exercising leadership by example. Arun Bharat Ram, chairman of SRF, noted the importance of governance structure and cohesion. Vinati Saraf, managing director and CEO of Vinati Organics, brought attention to the need to recognize the role of women, and her message was echoed by Rafique Abdul Malik, chairman of Metro Shoes. At large, many agreed that giving back to society was a key element to their family businesses, as Yusuf Hamied, chairman of Cipla, stated, “Success doesn’t make a company, an individual, or a family great. What matters is the social contribution.”

THE THINKERS

China’s philanthropy booming alongside the growth of billionaires. From 2010 to 2016, donations from the top 100 philanthropists in China more than tripled, reaching US$4.6 billion. In 2016, the National People’s Congress (NPC) enacted the Charity Law, attempting to add transparency and accountability to the broader social sector. The article also notes that Chinese philanthropic foundations now function more like traditional for-profit enterprises with specialized management teams that operate under strict guidelines. The concept of philanthropy is a cornerstone to Chinese culture, revered throughout Confucian texts, and now, the growing number of billionaire philanthropists is trailblazing a new path for more impactful philanthropic giving by expanding the volumes and areas for charitable support.

President Arif Alvi calls on Pakistani businesses to engage in CSR work. At the 11th International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit and Awards organized by the National Forum for Environment and Health, Pakistan President Arif Alvi highlighted the need for legislating regulations that bind the local corporate sector to commit a minimum of 1% of annual profits to projects in health, education, and social development. Alvi’s message closely resembles and mirrors a trend first set by the Indian government, which requires large companies to spend at least 2% of their profits for CSR.

Bain report on digital philanthropy in China raises six questions for stakeholders to consider when developing digital strategies. Digital philanthropy has grown precipitously over the past decade, and online fundraising platforms have made individual giving easier and more accessible. Beyond the oft-reported Tencent and Alibaba and their control of 90% of China’s online fundraising, new players are diversifying the digital philanthropy landscape, including China’s two largest banks, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which obtained approval to operate online donation platforms last year. The report highlights the need to pursue digital opportunities and six key areas organizations should consider when developing their digital strategies.

THE NONPROFITS

Malaysian nonprofit opens “The Big Heart” learning center. The Dignity for Children Foundation (DFCF) was founded in 1998 by Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina to educate and train impoverished children and refugee youth in urban Kuala Lumpur. The Sharjah-based Big Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, organizes the annual Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support. In the 2018 edition last April, DFCF won and received an award of AED 500,000 (approximately US$136,000). At the awards ceremony, Sharjah ruler Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi donated an additional US$1 million to DFCF, which was used to expand its flagship project, the Urban Youth Education Village, into the organization’s newly opened learning center, “The Big Heart.”

THE BUSINESSES

Google set to fund a 10MW solar farm in Taiwan, its first renewable project in Asia. As the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, Google is funding a solar farm of 40,000 solar panels in Tainan City to compensate for the energy consumed by its nearby data center. Google has been lobbying the Taiwanese government for years, trying to permit non-utility companies to purchase renewable energy from producers directly. Ultimately, amendments in 2017 to the country’s energy regulations gave the green light for Google’s first renewable project in Asia. While the 10MW solar farm in Tainan City will not measure up to the full consumption of Google’s data center, this renewable project and its preceding lobbying efforts will pave the way for more clean energy projects to come in the region.

US$225 million raised from AC Energy’s maiden green bond issuance will bankroll renewable energy portfolio expansion. The energy platform of the Philippines’ Ayala conglomerate, AC Energy, issued its inaugural senior green bonds, a drawdown from the recently established US$1 billion medium-term note program. The bonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), and they will be the first publicly syndicated CBI-certified dollar-denominated green bond in Southeast Asia. On the US$225 million successfully raised, AC Energy chairman, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, expressed, “We are very pleased to see the success of our maiden green bond. This will enable AC Energy to scale up its renewable energy investments in the region.”

THE INNOVATORS

Tata Trusts and New America launch blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. New America’s Blockchain Trust Accelerator and the Tata Trusts publicly announced at the Global Blockchain Business Council their ambitious blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. The blueprint outlines practical examples of blockchain projects that can be translated to the social impact and government technology arena. It also brings attention to efforts on part of governments to embrace blockchain, highlighting ways in which blockchain can contribute to social good, social justice, broad-based economic participation, and enhanced trust in the public square. Blockchain was one of the most cited words at last year’s World Economic Forum, and projects like this blueprint are proving that blockchain is quickly gaining interest and support within the social innovation space as well.

“eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN” workshop fosters the growth of young regional entrepreneurs. The ASEAN Foundation and the Maybank Foundation held a five-day workshop to train 100 Southeast Asian entrepreneurs in program development and field-work. These young entrepreneurs will be implementing pilot programs that provide social and economic benefits and services in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This program was a result of Maybank’s efforts to scale its 2016 program that trained students from top universities in Singapore to a regional level with the goal of empowering the youth and fostering the growth of sustainable development innovation throughout Southeast Asia.

Who’s Doing Good?

14 January 2019 - 20 January 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong Tatler names top 50 Asian philanthropists. The list features 50 of the most notable Asian philanthropists who have established charities or contributed generously to society through their donations. This year sees Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person, topping the list. Through his foundation, Li has committed to donating approximately US$10 billion, a third of his fortune. Other notable philanthropists on the list include Ronnie Chan, Lui Che-woo, and Peter Woo. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, made the largest donation to Harvard University when he donated US$350 million in 2014. Contributions from these 50 individuals span a variety of domains, including the arts, education, cancer research, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Mainstreaming of impact investment necessary to meet funding gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton featured observations from Fran Seegull, executive director of the United States Impact Investing Alliance, and Jonathan Wong of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The experts argue that private investment can not only meet the current funding gap, but also do so in a more sustainable fashion. According to Seegull, however, only the right mix of supportive and mandatory policy instruments can encourage this investment. Governments, therefore, must balance providing incentives and simultaneously preventing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Wong adds that greater rigor in measuring social impact can assist governments in creating relevant evidence-based policy instruments, as well as informing and motivating investors with a clearer idea of potential returns.

Ronnie Chan and Ruth Shapiro’s pioneering journey to understand and promote Asian philanthropy. Ruth Shapiro, chief executive of CAPS, credits Ronnie Chan, one of Asia’s leading philanthropists, for his generous support in establishing CAPS. As per the interview published by Hong Kong Tatler, the modern Asian context served a precursor to CAPS. Chan and Shapiro saw that the exponential increase in private wealth across the region brought with it an increasing desire to give back to society. In order to facilitate this growing interest in philanthropy, CAPS launched its inaugural flagship research, the Doing Good Index, which seeks to measure the regulatory, fiscal, and societal infrastructure and ecosystem that makes it easier to “do good.”

Regaining public trust key to businesses and governments meeting societal goals. At two events organized in Singapore by French business school INSEAD, participants agreed that alleviating a rampant trust deficit was essential to creating social impact. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that trust in businesses, governments, and media remains dismal, as 60% agree globally that CEOs are driven by greed rather than a desire to “do good.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, recommended that businesses and governments embrace rules-based trading, implement meritocracy, and place societal interests before personal ones to regain trust. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean of INSEAD, argued that training business leaders to understand the relationship between business and society rigorously would also help regain lost trust.

THE NONPROFITS

Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through Indonesia Masters to support tsunami and earthquake victims. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, is serving as the sustainable partner for the 2018 Asian Golf Tour. As part of this partnership, Asian golfers took upon the role of ambassadors during the season to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work. At the Indonesia Masters, spectators and golf enthusiasts will be able to contribute by purchasing merchandise and participating in charity games. The defending champion of the event, English golfer Justin Rose, has already donated US$50,000 to the nonprofit’s work in Indonesia for rehabilitating those affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Sulawesi and Lombok.

THE BUSINESSES

Impact investment asset manager Aavishkaar-IntelleCap Group receives ₹32 crore (approximately US$32 million) in investment from Nuveen, an American asset management firm. Nuveen’s investment will be used by Aavishkaar-IntelleCap to further increase its stakes in its subsidiaries. Nuveen is the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and holds over US$950 billion in assets. Aavishkaar-IntelleCap, based in India, is considered one of the world’s largest impact investing firms and offers a range of services including microfinance, equity financing, and consulting. The current investment by Nuveen follows Aavishkaar-IntelleCap’s efforts to raise US$300 million for its fund focused on Southeast Asia, which scouts opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos. Founded in 2001, Aavishkaar-IntelleCap currently manages a portfolio worth US$155 million spanning high-impact businesses at various stages of growth.

Indian personal care company, Himalaya, releases film to raise awareness about cleft-affected children. Titled “Ek Nayi Muskaan” (loosely translated to “A New Smile”), the film documents the story of Munmun, an eight-year-old girl from a village near Lucknow, India. Each year, over 35,000 babies are born in India with cleft lip and/or palate, and fewer than half receive treatment due to ignorance or poverty. Children with this condition are known to face difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking. The surgery required is considered safe, immediate, and transformative. Munmun is shown in the film to receive support from “Muskaan,” an initiative of Himalaya in partnership with Smile Train, a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. As part of the initiative, money from every purchase of a Himalaya lip-care product will be donated for this cause.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister charged for criminal breach of trust involving charity organization. Beleaguered former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was found to have misappropriated funds worth RM10 million (US$3.2 million) originally meant for Yayasan Akalbudi, his personal charity organization. The loan was discovered to have been passed to Armada Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate. The current Criminal Breach of Trust ruling sees the number of charges against Hamidi swell to 46, amounting to a total of RM223 million (approximately US$53 million).

Chinese businessman jailed for running a pyramid scheme in the name of the poor worth RMB 20 billion (approximately US$2.9 billion). Zhang Tianming and 17 other individuals associated with him have been found guilty of running a pyramid and multi-level marketing scheme, which affected nearly six million people. Zhang’s company had lured investors with promises of high rates of return on projects that were meant to help the poor, but had instead paid out early members purely using funds from new joiners, a court investigation found.

Sexual abuse in the Nepali aid sector puts children at risk. The arrest of five foreign aid workers over the last year for alleged sexual abuse of children in Nepal has escalated fears that the country has become a target of pedophiles. These individuals are thought to be working under the cover of aid work or philanthropy. The most high-profile case of this alarming trend is that of Canadian aid worker Peter Dalglish. After spending nearly 20 years helping some of the world’s poorest children, Dalglish was arrested this year, and police found two boys, aged 12 and 14 respectively, inside his residence. Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker, opines that these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that more or such incidents are to come and to be revealed.