Who’s Doing Good?

3 February 2020 - 16 February 2020

THE GIVERS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation increases donation to US$100 million for coronavirus relief efforts. Having initially pledged US$10 million to help combat the novel coronavirus, the Foundation recently announced it is increasing its spending to US$100 million. A statement by the Foundation said that its funds will be used to “find a vaccine for the virus, limit its spread, and improve the detection and treatment of patients.” US$20 million will be immediately directed to groups including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organizations. Funding will also be allocated to public health agencies in China and other affected countries. Prominent business leaders also continue to pledge millions, including Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun who recently contributed US$1.8 million to relief efforts in his home province of Hubei—the epicenter of the outbreak.

THE THINKERS

Encouraging businesses to give back to society. CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro discusses the upcoming Doing Good Index 2020 in The Annapurna Express. The index examines philanthropic environments across 18 Asian economies through the lenses of regulations, tax policies, procurement and societal ecosystems related to private social investment. Shapiro states, “By compiling the DGI, we want to understand what enables the giving and receiving of money and other resources, and what holds it back.” Shapiro also highlights the importance of philanthropy, and how it goes beyond charity, “Philanthropy is more systematic. We are trying to bring about system change instead of a one-off reaction. So philanthropy is a more strategic way to help others.” Doing Good Index 2020, which covers three extra economies (Nepal, Bangladesh, and Cambodia) compared to the inaugural 2018 edition, will be released in Spring 2020.

THE BUSINESSES

Corporate China opens its wallet to fight coronavirus outbreak. Nikkei Asian Review reports on the rise of charitable contributions by Chinese companies amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Around 130 listed companies have pledged ¥725 million (US$104 million) in cash or in-kind donations, according to a Nikkei Asian Review tally of official disclosures on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchange websites. Some companies are leveraging their global networks to source in-kind donations ranging from masks and protective suits to free meals and drinking water. While companies are driven by a desire to help during uncertain times, the article highlights that over 20 companies have indicated hopes that their donation will help reflect their commitment to social responsibility and raise their social profile.

KKR closes US$1.3 billion global impact fund. The leading global investment firm announced the final closing of the KKR Global Impact Fund at US$1.2 billion. The Fund is “dedicated to investment opportunities in companies whose core business models provide commercial solutions to an environmental or social challenge.” The Fund is focused on identifying investment opportunities in lower middle market companies that contribute measurable progress towards at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A KKR partner noted, “We are thrilled to see our investors’ shared enthusiasm for the tremendous opportunity we see ahead for KKR Global Impact and will build on this to help set the new standard across investing, value creation and measuring success in the space.”

THE INNOVATORS

Tech startup Village Link is improving yields for farmers in rural Myanmar. Founded in 2016, Village Link focuses on strengthening Myanmar’s agriculture sector, which is estimated to account for 38% of the country’s GDP. Since agricultural productivity in Myanmar is still relatively low, the tech startup launched an app, Htwet Tow, for farmers to connect and learn from agriculture experts. For example, farmers can upload photos of their crops for a “diagnosis” and receive advice on best practices. The app also connects farmers to distributors and buyers, and offers updates on weather changes, market prices of crops, and best crop cultivation techniques. According to the startup, the app has gained around 46,000 monthly active users as of December 2019 and recently became the first winner from Myanmar in the ASEAN AgTech category at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) unveils venture platform to invest in impact technology startups. ADB Ventures will support and invest in startups offering impact technology solutions focused on the Sustainable Development Goals in the Asia-Pacific region. ADB Ventures Investment Fund 1—the facility’s anchor trust fund—has a target size of US$50 million. Unlike traditional venture capital funds, ADB Ventures Investment Fund 1 has a three-year US$12 million technical assistance program through two arms. ADB Ventures SEED is a grant program to de-risk technology pilots and promote expansion into emerging markets. ADB Venture Lab is a suite of corporate innovation programs, industry, and accelerators, which will support these startups and help generate technology pilot opportunities.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Food charities in Singapore get wave of help following appeal. Food banks and other volunteer-run charities are facing challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Singaporean nonprofit Food From The Heart saw 90% of its volunteering sessions cancelled as companies suspended their CSR volunteer programs for employee safety reasons. Monetary donations are also declining in this uncertain climate. The nonprofit Free Food For All estimated a 50% drop in donations received, but its founder said that “asking for donations during this time is a thorny issue.” Luckily, individual volunteers are stepping up to fill this gap. One food charity saw a surge in offers to help from schools, corporations, and even the Singapore Land Authority. Singapore’s National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) has also set up a centralized platform to “give all donors and volunteers a single point of reference for the most pressing needs during this period of the COVID-19 outbreak.” Here, charities can appeal for volunteers and share their fundraising efforts.

Who’s Doing Good?

20 January 2020 - 2 February 2020

THE GIVERS

Jack Ma donates US$14 million to develop coronavirus vaccine. CNN reports that China’s richest man Jack Ma has donated a total of ¥100 million (US$14.4 million) through his eponymous foundation to help develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The Alibaba founder has earmarked ¥40 million (US$5.8 million) for two Chinese government research organizations, while the remainder will support prevention and treatment measures. Alibaba has also announced a ¥1 billion (US$144 million) fund “to buy medical supplies for Wuhan and Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.” According to the China Daily, other Chinese companies are also donating funds and offering measures of support to coronavirus treatment efforts.

Chinese tech giants and global philanthropists donate to help fight coronavirus outbreak. In addition to Alibaba, Chinese tech giants Baidu, Tencent, Huawei, and ByteDance are also offering support to help combat the novel coronavirus. Together, Baidu, Tencent, and ByteDance have pledged ¥800 million (US$115 million) to research new treatments and help authorities in the most-affected areas. Huawei has contributed by supporting the construction of the new Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan. Other companies from Chinese sportswear brand Anta Sports to large multinationals in the U.S. and Europe are also joining the effort. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would commit US$10 million to support first responders in China and Africa, including US$5 million for treatment and vaccine development.

THE THINKERS

Philanthropists save their legacy, but the next generation saves the world, according to new report. A new Campden Wealth report, Global Trends and Strategic Time Horizons in Family Philanthropy 2020, reveals little variation in environmental priority for philanthropists globally. Educational causes remained the biggest beneficiaries of average philanthropic portfolios—with Asia-Pacific families being the biggest allocators to education. But next-gen philanthropists are shifting priorities as they move into decision-making roles in their families’ charities. Campden Wealth’s director of research noted, “Beyond next-gens’ strong influence in the sustainable investment space, they are also set to significantly affect philanthropic giving. This can result in more meaningful funding for certain important causes, such as the environment.”

THE NONPROFITS

Gates Foundation launches new agriculture-focused nonprofit. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Agricultural Innovations, or Gates Ag One, is a new nonprofit subsidiary of the foundation. It will focus on helping smallholder farmers—the majority of whom are women—adapt to climate change. As the president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Growth & Opportunity division noted, “While smallholder farms are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the private sector is not incentivized to bring promising early-stage discovery to development in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.” Gates Ag One will work to not only accelerate agricultural research and development, but also make early-stage discoveries more accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers. 

THE BUSINESSES

SK Chairman Chey Tae-won advocates social value measurement model in Davos. Mr. Chey has advocated corporate social value creation since 2013, when he first proposed the concept at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It is not an option but an obligation to change the goals and systems of corporate management from the interests of shareholders to those of stakeholders,” Chairman Chey said. At this year’s forum, he discussed SK’s developments in this area including the Group’s social value measurement model, which has been used to measure social value created by social enterprises since 2014 and by SK affiliates since 2018. In addition, SK Group has joined forces with the OECD, World Bank, the world’s four biggest accounting firms, and other companies to form the nonprofit Value Balancing Alliance and develop a standardized measurement model that can be accepted internationally. 

Top Indian companies’ CSR arms join forces to combat climate change. The philanthropic arms of leading Indian corporates announced a new partnership to combat climate change: the India Climate Collaborative (ICC). ICC will work to “strengthen the climate community locally, build a climate narrative, and drive solutions that will ensure both the natural world and people thrive.” The collaborative includes industry leaders such as the Tatas, Mahindras, Godrejs and Premjis. Vodyah Shah, Rohini Nilekani, and Harmendra Kothari are also part of the 40-member collective. Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata had this to say about the ICC, “Our collective leadership through the ICC will indicate to the world that Indian philanthropy is ready to be a leader in climate action.”

THE INNOVATORS

Malaysia urged to make social enterprise scheme simpler. Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on the 22 social enterprises in Malaysia who received accreditation this month through a new government-backed scheme. The accreditation officially recognizes social enterprises and offers tax deductions and access to grants. Entrepreneurs expressed hope that accreditation will help raise awareness among the public and businesses. However, some said the registration process was too cumbersome. Analysts warn that regulations can sometimes have the unintended consequence of hindering the growth of social enterprises. This article urges Malaysia to make its new social enterprise registration simpler and to offer greater financial incentives to boost the growing sector.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Local Red Cross under fire over China coronavirus donations remaining in warehouse. Aljazeera reports on recent allegations against the Wuhan Red Cross and Hubei provincial Red Cross over their distribution of donations. A report from Hubei’s Red Cross revealed that only 200,000 of 2 million masks donated from across China had been delivered to hospitals. It was also revealed that hospitals designated to treat coronavirus-infected patients were receiving fewer supplies than others. A Red Cross official explained their decision, stating that the masks were “KN95” standard rather than the “N95” standard required for frontline medical workers. Wuhan Red Cross is also being questioned about the ¥390 million (US$56 million) cash donations it received, of which only 13% has been spent on supplies. According to the article, Hubei Red Cross later apologized on its official Weibo account, saying it was “deeply regretful” about what had happened. Some hospitals are now only accepting direct donations and bypassing intermediaries.

Who’s Doing Good?

6 January 2020 - 19 January 2020

THE GIVERS

Heroes of Philanthropy 2019: Azim Premji is Asia’s biggest giver. Forbes India released its 13th annual Heroes of Philanthropy list, which honors 30 individuals across the Asia-Pacific region for their philanthropy. The list focuses on individuals who go beyond just donating money and are personally committed to achieving a long-term vision for society. Azim Premji became Asia’s most generous philanthropist in 2019 by donating US$7.6 billion worth of Wipro shares to his eponymous foundation, raising his total lifetime giving to US$21 billion. The list also includes Jack Ma, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, and Atul Nishar, among others

Chinese tycoons have a duty to follow Jack Ma into philanthropy, says Asian philanthropist. In this Nikkei Asian Review piece, Chairman of Wahum Group Holdings James Chen shares his journey in catalytic philanthropy to advance eye care solutions in China. Chen calls on China’s business elite to understand the role they can play in growing the economy and addressing social problems via philanthropy. This is especially important as China’s wealthy now outnumber their American counterparts, according to research by Credit Suisse. Mr. Chen underscores that Chinese tech leaders are well-positioned to do more as they have both the skills and capital to drive solutions to the country’s most pressing social issues. 

THE THINKERS

Bangladesh’s dynamic duo battle global health inequity. In his latest Gates Notes, philanthropist Bill Gates profiles Dr. Samir Saha and Senjuti Saha, a father-daughter team working to reduce child mortality in Bangladesh. Senjuti, a microbiologist, works with her father at the Child Health Research Foundation, an organization he helped found. They are using data, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and vaccines to battle infectious diseases and close the gap in healthcare delivery between low-income and high-income countries. Gates gives insight into the impact of their work and the importance of this type of research for Bangladesh and other countries that lack many of the resources needed to diagnose and treat illnesses. 

THE BUSINESSES

Chinese companies get to grips with tougher ESG disclosures. Financial Times reports that authorities in China are urging companies to say more about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s call for the development of “green finance” to attract more foreign investment. Hong Kong’s latest move will require all exchange-listed companies to disclose the board’s consideration of ESG risks, as well as materiality assessments. The stock exchanges of Shanghai and Shenzhen are expected to follow Hong Kong’s lead this year. At the same time, issuers of bonds are also coming under increased scrutiny as foreign investors remain wary of China’s “green bonds.” In the third quarter of 2019, only 40% of green bonds from Chinese issuers were in line with international norms on the use of proceeds, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative, a London-based nonprofit organization. 

Takeda and MIT School of Engineering join to advance research in artificial intelligence and health. The MIT-Takeda Program will support MIT faculty, students, researchers, and staff who are working at the intersection of AI and human health. The program will offer them access to pharmaceutical infrastructure and expertise from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, one of Asia’s largest pharmaceutical companies. It will be housed within the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (J-Clinic), leveraging the combined expertise of both programs, and it will aim to “fuel the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) capability to benefit human health and drug development.”

THE INNOVATORS

With 3 big exits, 2019 was marquee year for Pierre Omidyar in India, says MD Roopa Kudva. Impact investor Omidyar Network profitably exited three portfolio companies in India this past year. These exits show that social investments can yield high portfolio returns, as managing director Roopa Kudva notes, “The exits we did last year highlight our ability to not just create a social impact, but also make money.” The fund, started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has been investing in India for 10 years now and has deployed US$300 million to date. It intends to invest a further US$350 million over the next five years. While 75% of Omidyar’s investments are in the form of equity, the remaining is given as grants to fund research and social initiatives, such as Teach for India.

Asia-Pacific’s first-ever multi-country listed gender bond series gains new support from the United Nations. Impact Investment Exchange (IIX)’s award-winning Women’s Livelihood Bond Series (WLB Series) has gained new support from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and The Rockefeller Foundation. Private investors in the WLB Series will benefit from first-loss capital provided by The Rockefeller Foundation and a 50% loan portfolio guarantee provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Rockefeller Foundation’s managing director notes that this is a prime example of catalytic capital, “where risk-tolerant, impact-prioritizing funding is leveraged to unlock private sector capital.” Through this form of innovative finance, the WLB Series aims to create sustainable livelihoods for over 2 million women across Asia.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Questions raised over charity’s handling of donations after death of Chinese student Wu Huayan. BBC reports on corruption allegations against China Charities Aid Foundation for Children (CCAFC) following Wu Huayan’s death. Charity 9958, a project under the CCAFC, collected US$144,000 in online donations for Ms. Wu’s heart surgery. Official records seem to suggest that just about US$2,900 was paid towards her hospital bills, and according to the BBC article, the surgery never took place. The charity responded saying that it was holding onto the money on her family’s request and that Ms. Wu had not met the criteria needed to undergo the surgery—official media reported that she weighed less than 30kg when she died. As different allegations surface over the issue, BBC gives insight into how past scandals related to the misuse of donations have had negative repercussions for the charitable sector.

Who’s Doing Good?

23 December 2019 - 5 January 2020

THE GIVERS

Charity campaign “Operation Santa Claus” raises HK$9.7 million (approximately US$1.2 million) for 13 Hong Kong charities. Now in its 32nd iteration, the annual campaign offers financial and non-financial assistance to a curated set of beneficiaries. This year’s beneficiaries include social delivery organizations working with children and youth, community, and people with physical and mental disabilities. First-time partner, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, helped launch the campaign in November and contributed HK$500,000 (approximately US$64,000) to its tally. The campaign housed auctions, corporate volunteering, and singing and sporting events.

Thai rock star’s charity run raises Bt$18 million (approximately US$600,000) for regional hospitals. Athiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Khongmalai led more than 20,000 participants in the 10.4-kilometer run held in the Muang district of Chiang Mai. This was part of the “Kao Khon La Kao” charity run campaign spanning nearly 300 kilometers across 5 provinces in total. Donations received during the campaign will help buy medical equipment for seven regional hospitals. Khongmalai, a popular musician, is an active runner for good: his 2215-kilometer run in 2017 amassed donations worth approximately US$45 million for 11 public hospitals, while his 400-kilometer run in 2016 collected approximately US$2 million.

THE THINKERS

Rising public awareness set to buttress philanthropy in China. Researchers from the IMD Global Family Business Center give insight into the past, present, and future of Chinese philanthropy. This article highlights how the nation’s response to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake galvanized the sector, as the public’s response resulted in a 30-fold increase in charitable giving by the end of 2008. The Center also points to key trends in Chinese giving, such as employing technology as a catalyst for doing good, channeling funds towards historically overlooked areas like climate change, and rising volunteerism. They add that while a lack of trust among the public and poor career prospects are inhibiting the potential of philanthropy in China, rising awareness and more opportunities for giving back augur well for the sector.

Strategic waste management central to sustainable consumption and a pressing challenge for Asia in 2020s. Pat Dwyer, founder and director of The Purpose Business—a network of sustainability consultants—notes that ballooning consumption and lagging strategies on mitigating waste have led to a precarious situation in Asia. According to research from UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the region is set to miss all 17 SDGs by 2030 at its current pace. For Dwyer, strategic alignment with this problem is an opportunity no Asian business can afford to waste. Dwyer suggests that businesses play their part by targeting any stage of their product’s lifecycle—from design and production to collection and disposal—to mitigate the problem. Dwyer goes on to highlight emerging examples from the region such as India and Thailand, where plastic waste has successfully been repurposed for road construction. 

THE BUSINESSES

ESG investment starts to gain a foothold in China. Fiona Reynolds, CEO of Principles for Responsible Investment, spotlights the rise of Chinese companies focusing on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) factors. Reynolds highlights that despite China’s slower developments in embracing ESG factors, the country has seen an increase in number of Principles for Responsible Investment signatories—those who agree to invest according to the six ESG-based principles. According to Reynolds, there is great opportunity for ESG to take hold in China over the coming years. In her Nikkei Asian Review article, she points to upcoming regulations that will make disclosure of environmental factors mandatory for 3,000 of China’s listed corporations and primary bond market issuers, as well as other developments that augur well for ESG integration. 

THE INNOVATORS

Results of Hong Kong’s SFC’s Survey on ESG and Climate Change in Asset Management. Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued the results of its Survey on Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Factors and Climate Risks in Asset Management. Survey respondents included 794 firms active in asset management and 14 asset owners. The results offer a snapshot of the evolving ESG landscape across the Asia-Pacific region, including examples of ESG integration and existing practices in the asset management industry. The results also reveal gaps between the expectations of asset owners and the ways that asset managers are responding, as well as insights into trends that may shape the future of ESG practices in the industry. 

Aavishkaar’s Anurag Agrawal on investing for social change. Aavishkaar Group, founded in 2001, is one of the world’s largest impact investors. Under its equity investment arm—Aavishkaar Capital—the Group has launched six funds across India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. In this interview, the Group’s COO and Partner, Anurag Agrawal, gives insight into what he has learned from his social impact investment journey. Agrawal discusses the nuances of taking a venture capital approach in the social impact field, noting, “We are not investing in the next Google or Uber of the world. We are investing in tried and tested models and taking them to difficult geographies.” Agrawal also shares examples of the fund’s successful impact investments and discusses the fund’s plans for the coming year.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singaporean companies that give employees time to volunteer. Channel News Asia spotlights companies that offer volunteer leave for their employees. One example is bank UOB, which, in 2019, increased volunteer leave entitlement from two to three days and gave its first employee volunteer of the year award. In the first 11 months of 2019, UOB employees completed 56,000 volunteering hours, a 7% increase from the same period in the previous year. The article highlights other companies that offer volunteer leave, but it notes that such volunteer schemes remain a rarity in Singapore. According to a 2017 survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), only 30% of companies that engaged in volunteering offered paid volunteer leave. 

Who’s Doing Good?

25 November 2019 - 9 December 2019

THE GIVERS

Forbes announces Asia’s 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy. In its 13th iteration this year, the list honors Asia’s leading philanthropists who are helping solve some of the region’s most pressing challenges through donations and their personal involvement. The unranked list features 30 individuals including Azim Premji from India, Jack Ma from China, and Theodore Rachmat from Indonesia. Broadly, 6 individuals from China, 4 from India, 3 each from Indonesia, Singapore and Australia, and 2 each from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Thailand are featured. Korean singer and actress Lee Ji-eun, 26, known by her stage name IU, is the youngest honoree on the list.

Seal of Love Charitable Foundation donates HK$40 million (approximately US$5 million) to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The gift, channeled into the “Seal of Love Foundation Innovation Service Fund,” is aimed at empowering HKUST students to solve real-world problems through innovation and technology. The fund’s first donation is to the pre-existing Student Innovation for Global Health (SIGHT) project, which has been devising creative and affordable solutions to global health issues since 2014. Inventions by SIGHT include a mobile electronic health record system for slums and rural areas in Cambodia and Ghana. The Seal of Love Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 by Lawrence Chan, the heir to Chan Chak-Fu, a pioneer in the global hotel industry.

THE THINKERS

Asia home to the majority of people fleeing ‘climate chaos,’ Oxfam study finds. The study examines the number of people displaced within their home countries by climate-fueled disasters between 2008 and 2018. While the study looks at the impact of ‘climate chaos’ globally, it offers timely insight into displacement finding that 80% of all people forced from their homes by weather disasters over the last decade were in Asia. The report also finds that people are three times more likely to be displaced by environmental disasters (such as cyclones, floods, or fires) than by conflicts. Large populations in some Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, live in areas threatened by cyclones or flooding. For example, this past May, Cyclone Fani alone led to the displacement of 3.5 million people in Bangladesh and India.

THE NONPROFITS

Piramal Foundation and Gates Foundation join hands in tribal health collaborative. The partnership leverages support from the Gates Foundation and other stakeholders including the Indian government to achieve SDG 3, “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.” India’s tribal communities are home to more than 150 million people and have poorer health standards than the national average. For instance, the average maternal mortality rate in India is 130 per 100,000 births while it can be as high as 230 deaths per 100,000 in tribal communities. The goal of the partnership is to build a high-performing and sustainable health ecosystem to address the needs of these marginalized populations. Speaking at the occasion, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Given the complexity and magnitude of the problem, we believe that partnerships with like-minded, values-based organizations such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that seek to complement the Government’s efforts, will provide the much needed impetus.”

THE INNOVATORS

Hong Kong millennials are investing family wealth sustainably, but the learning curve can be steep. Young heirs of family wealth want their money to do more than just generate returns—they want to make a difference. But doing so has not been straightforward. According to Michael Au, the managing director of District Capital, “One of the hurdles is the lack of advisers who understand the contemporary impact investing dialogue from an Asia perspective.” On the other hand, Ronnie Mak, the managing director of RS Group, states that they have been able to build and manage a fully sustainable portfolio and achieve a net annual return of 5 percent over the last 10 years. The old-guard is viewing these experiences with caution, according to Au, since they continue to believe that generating returns and doing good are mutually exclusive. CAPS’ newest report, “Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia” challenges this perception. Viewing social enterprises as a critical vehicle for doing good, it offers actionable strategies to investors and philanthropists to maximize their impact.

World Bank’s catastrophe bonds provide US$225 million cover to the Philippines for dealing with natural disasters. Two tranches of the catastrophe-linked bond (CAT bond), the first of its kind, were released last week. The bond will provide immediate liquidity and insurance cover to the Philippines for three years. Issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, up to US$150 million will be channeled towards tropical cyclone-related losses while the remaining US$75 million will cover losses from earthquakes. The bond transfers risks related to natural disasters from developing countries to capital markets. According to Mara K. Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, the CAT bond “demonstrates the Philippines’ capability to develop innovative financial solutions to mitigate impacts of extreme climate and weather-related events as well as major earthquakes.”

UNDP and Government of India launch accelerator to champion innovative approaches to development challenges. The India chapter of “Accelerator Labs,” a new UNDP initiative, will be part of a global network of 60 labs where innovative and homegrown solutions to global challenges such as climate change and inequality will be tested and scaled. The labs will employ real-time data and experimentation to quicken progress towards meeting the SDGs by 2030. The Government of India’s Atal Innovation Mission, part of a national effort to harness the potential of entrepreneurship, serves as the lab’s key partner in the country. At the launch, Mr. R. Ramanan, Mission Director of the Atal Innovation Mission said, “We remain committed to finding local solutions that can be scaled up not only in India, but also across the Accelerator Lab network.” The launch also featured #DateForDevelopment, a matchmaking activity aimed at fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Policymakers, impact investors, experts from civil society, scientists, and members of the private sector interacted in the activity to iterate over proposed innovations.

Social stock exchange in the works in India. A 15-member working group, constituted under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), is likely to present a blueprint for a stock exchange for the social sector this month. According to Vineet Rai, co-founder of Avishkaar, a pioneering social enterprise, the social stock exchange will help potential donors find and fund credible organizations that are doing good. As these efforts proceed apace some concerns have also arisen. Former Sebi chairman, UK Sinha, opines that robust impact measurement will be a critical ingredient in the exchange’s success, and yet there are few metrics that combine social impact and financial success and can serve as an effective basis for qualification on the exchange. Despite these hurdles, however, Sinha agrees that the social stock exchange is a step in the right direction.

IN OTHER NEWS…

China’s star healthcare crowdfunding portal, Waterdrop, mired in scandal. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that an undercover media report has shed light on a series of lapses and wrongdoings on the part of Waterdrop and its staff. SCMP reports that Waterdrop staff asked hospital patients to initiate crowdfunding projects and exaggerate their stories to garner sympathy. Waterdrop’s model incentivizes project creations according to one staff member who said he would lose his job if he did not meet the target of 35 projects initiated per month. The report also states that the financial situations of targeted families was not being verified and patients were not required to submit proof of how they were using the donated money. According to SCMP, verification and supervision are the most frequently raised issues about crowdfunding platforms in China. Shen Peng, 32, founder of Waterdrop, has vowed to transfer ownership of the platform to an NGO if he cannot manage it better in the future. Waterdrop had raised CNY1 billion (approximately US$145 million) in June this year.

Environment for NGOs likely to become grim under Sri Lanka’s new president. In an interview for the The Diplomat, Taylor Dibbert, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum, opines: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see NGOs throughout the country–particularly in the heavily militarized north and east–getting visits from security personnel. Offices may be raided.” Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as the island nation’s eighth president earlier this month.

Who’s Doing Good?

2 September 2019 - 15 September 2019

THE GIVERS

US$442 million donated via online platforms in China in 2018. According to a recent report by China Philanthropy Research Institute, Chinese donations to online charity platforms increased nearly 27 percent in 2018 to more than ¥3.17 billion (approximately US$442 million). A total of 20 online platforms attracted donations from 8.46 billion internet users. The report also notes a 34.5 percent increase in the number of registered charitable organizations in China putting the total at 5,620. Guangdong ranks first in the country with 748 charitable organizations, followed by Beijing and Zhejiang.

Donations to earthquake-hit towns in Japan rose sharply in 2018. Through the Japanese government’s furusato nozei (hometown tax donation) system, taxpayers can contribute to their hometowns or other municipalities in return for tax cuts. The Japan Times reports that donations to three earthquake-hit towns in Hokkaido have risen sharply, most notably to Atsuma where they grew 5.4 times from the previous year to over ¥1 billion (approximately US$9 million). The Atsuma Municipal Government intends to channel donations towards reconstruction efforts, among others.

THE NONPROFITS

BRAC, one of the world’s largest charities, charts new path. Founded in 1972, BRAC has grown into one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGO) with 100,000 full-time staff. According to the The Economist, BRAC lent money to almost 8 million people and educated more than 1 million children across Bangladesh and ten other countries in 2018 alone. NGO Advisor has ranked BRAC as the world’s best charity for the past four years.  However, there are challenges ahead. As Bangladesh’s annual GDP continues to grow and government spending on public services continues to increase, large charities are having to think about where else they can contribute. In response, BRAC is venturing into new directions and shifting to income-generating activities to subsidize its philanthropic activities. The Economist notes that, by charting this new path, BRAC can serve as a model for other charities to follow.  

THE BUSINESSES

Japanese companies lead world in disclosing climate risks. According to the Financial Times, more than 60 Japanese companies threw their support behind the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in May, surpassing companies in the US and the UK. Nearly 200 Japanese companies back TCFD measures now. This has been applauded by investors and lenders as a valuable opportunity for obtaining consistent information about companies’ climate risks. The country has also seen a sharp increase in ESG investing. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance reported that Japan’s ESG investing assets quadrupled from US$474 billion to US$2 trillion from 2016-18. 

China’s Xiamen Airlines vows to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At a recent industry expo, Chairman of Xiamen Airlines (XiamenAir) Zhao Dong confirmed the airline’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2017 XiamenAir was the first airline to sign a cooperation agreement with the United Nations  to formally support the SDGs. Since then the airline has adopted a range of measures including providing passengers with sustainable tissues and bamboo cups, and offering digital news services instead of printed newspapers. According to Zhao, XiamenAir has also achieved a 14.8 percent drop in fuel consumption per ton-kilometer, exceeding the global average of fuel efficiency improvement. At the event, the airline committed to continuing its support for sustainable development in the aviation industry. 

Global Reporting Initiative Regional Hub officially opens in Singapore. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that helps businesses, governments, and other organizations understand and communicate their sustainability standards. The organization officially launched its GRI Regional Hub in Singapore earlier this month, adding to six other hubs around the world. The Singapore hub will support ASEAN companies by helping them “identify, manage, and report their most material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts.” The Hub will be headed by Michele Lemmens, a business executive from Tata Consultancy Services.

THE VOLUNTEERS

With the help of 12,000 volunteers, No Food Waste redistributes surplus food to the needy in India. The food-recovery startup, No Food Waste (NFW), was founded in 2014 to redistribute surplus food to the needy in Tamil Nadu. With the support of a network of 12,000 volunteers, NFW now serves an average of 900 people per day. The organization collects surplus food from banquets at social functions, corporate canteens, and hotels. After being notified of a food pick-up, a city-specific NFW coordinator gets their team of volunteers together to collect and distribute the food. Recently, the startup has been working to incorporate more sustainable measures by banning single-use disposable containers and shifting to serving food on plantain leaves. The food-recovery startup has received a number of awards recognizing its work.

THE INNOVATORS

Singapore-based IIX and Korean government agency commit US$1.2 million to accelerate high-impact enterprises in Asia. Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), a global organization that provides funding and support to social enterprises, has announced a new partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). IIX and KOICA will jointly contribute US$1.2 million over five years to support 18 social enterprises across South and Southeast Asia. Through its Acceleration and Customized Technical Services (ACTS) program, IIX will select the social enterprises and offer them capacity building and technical assistance to ensure they are investment-ready. The enterprises will also gain access to mentors and over 1,000 accredited investors from around the world. This joint initiative aims to impact the lives of 8 million people.

UNDP and 500 Startups launch accelerator for social enterprises in Indonesia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and 500 Startups have launched ImpactAim Indonesia, a social accelerator that aims to boost social entrepreneurship in the country. The accelerator will support eight to ten startups that are serving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a 10-week program in Jakarta. These startups will receive guidance on impact measurement and gain access to prospective impact investors from around the world. According to the article, ImpactAim hopes to amplify social impact through three main objectives: “growing impact ventures, assessing their contribution to the SDGs, and connecting them to networks and funding opportunities.”

Who’s Doing Good?

22 July 2019 - 4 August 2019

THE GIVERS

Tin Ka Ping Foundation donates HK$5 million (approximately US$640,000) to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Dr. Tin Ka Ping’s eponymous foundation has reinforced the late philanthropist’s lifelong commitment to education through its most recent donation. Made to the Tin Ka Ping Education Fund—a permanent fund established in 2008 for HKUST’s Institute for Advanced Study (IAS)—the donation raised the Fund’s principal to a total of HK$11 million (approximately US$1.4 million). The university plans to use the new funds to support its “Dream Chaser Scholarship Fund” aimed at meeting the financial needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. HKUST President Prof. Wei Shyy remarked, “I am sure this donation would help foster whole-person development for students—especially those in need, and help attract more excellent young scholars to our university, further expanding the realms of academic and knowledge frontiers.”

Donations to Kyoto Animation surpass ¥1 billion (approximately US$9.4 million) after tragic arson attack. Support for Japanese anime studio Kyoto Animation has poured in from inside and outside the country in the wake of the July 18th arson attack which resulted in 35 casualties. Over 48,000 donors, including individuals and companies, donated US$9.4 million in just five days after the studio opened a bank account specifically for receiving donations. Outside Japan, Sentai Filmworks, a U.S. company that distributes Japanese anime, managed to raise US$2.3 million for the studio via crowdfunding. Kyoto Animation will use the money to help injured victims and deceased victims’ families as well as aid reconstruction efforts. The firm plans to report the use of these funds to the public.

Hui Ka Yan, Chairman of Evergrande Group, tops Forbes’ China Philanthropy List for the fourth time. The chairman of one of the world’s most valuable real estate companies retained his top position on Forbes’ China Philanthropy List after receiving the accolade in 2012, 2013, and 2018. Yang Guoqiang, Chairman of real estate company Country Garden, and Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, were second and third respectively. Hui Ka Yan led with total cash donations worth ¥4.07 billion (approximately US$586 million) followed by ¥1.65 billion (approximately US$237 million) donated by Yang and family, and ¥980 million (approximately US$141 million) under Ma’s name. Donations across the hundred entrepreneurs featured on the list totaled ¥19.17 billion (approximately US$2.8 billion), a seven-year high and a 10.7% increase year-on-year.

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che Woo offers insight into his philanthropic efforts. One of the richest men in Hong Kong, Lui Che Woo, established the Lui Che Woo Prize for World Civilization in 2015 through a donation of US$1.2 billion. Nine laureates have received the prize’s cash award of HK$20 million (approximately US$2.6 million) each so far. In this Forbes interview Lui states that motivation for establishing the prize came from his own experience of World War II, which led him to question why conflict and development gaps continue to exist. The prize focuses on “the appreciation and recognition towards sustainability of world resources, determination in betterment of people and the society, and demonstration of positivity which enables mankind to withstand different challenges.” Lui’s philanthropy is rooted in an idea of being “gifted” by society, and he vows to never forget to contribute back to it.

THE THINKERS

Impact investment rising in Asia, but challenges remain. CAPS’ Director of Research, Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, argues that impact investment in Asia has evoked wide interest but commensurate capital deployment is yet to be witnessed—Asia accounts for less than 10% of global impact investment assets under management. She cites the newness of impact investing in Asia as one inhibitor. According to a poll of ultra- and high-net-worth individuals, 98% of respondents looked to increase their allocations to impact investment, but over half had not made a single impact investment. A mismatch between the types of financing needed by social enterprises and those on offer from impact investors has also surfaced as a gap. But, Mehvesh Ahmed argues, the thinking around impact investment in Asia is constantly evolving and the future for the financing mechanism appears bright. CAPS will be releasing a detailed study on social entrepreneurship and impact investing in Asia this fall.

Increasing inheritance tax levels could boost giving in Asia. Sumit Agarwal, Professor at the National University of Singapore, opines that Asia can do more to spur its ultra-rich to be more philanthropic. Asia has been home to incredible wealth creation in recent years: the number of billionaires in China rose to 819 in 2018 from 571 in 2017, far outpacing growth in the United States. Yet, Agarwal notes, only 10 out of the 182 total signatories of the “Giving Pledge” come from Asia. Low or nonexistent inheritance tax exacerbates the situation, allowing Asians to pass all or most of their wealth to their descendants. Agarwal cites recent research from the U.S. which finds that repealing the inheritance tax for a year led to a decline in charitable giving by US$6 billion. He concludes that the introduction of even a modest inheritance tax could incentivize Asian high-net-worth individuals to donate their growing share of global wealth. (CAPS highlighted the importance of inheritance tax for Asian philanthropy in the 2018 Doing Good Index.

Brookings India releases report on the Indian impact investment landscape. India faces an annual financing gap of US$565 billion towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Impact investment is emerging as one answer: it can help champion innovative ideas in social service delivery, test their effectiveness, and help them scale up. This report from Brookings India surveys market trends and finds that impact investment is beginning to take off. The sector attracted US$5.2 billion from 2010 to 2016 with US$1.1 billion invested in 2016 alone. The report concludes with actionable recommendations for creating an effective social financing ecosystem in India.

THE NONPROFITS

Social donations in China exceed ¥90 billion (approximately US$13 billion) in 2018. Figures from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs have also shed light on the growing importance of online donations for China’s third sector. The 2018 “September 9 Charity Day,” an event backed by internet-giant Tencent, saw 28 million online donors donating ¥830 million (approximately US$120 million) through 20 officially designated online charity platforms. For some major foundations as much as 80% of their donations are now originating from online and social sources. Overall, official figures hold the number of registered charity organizations in China at 7,500 with their net assets totaling ¥160 billion (approximately US$23 billion). 

THE INNOVATORS

Indian clean energy producer raises US$950 million in Asia’s largest green bond sale. Global investors oversubscribed by three times a green bond issued by Greenko Energy Holdings, which currently operates assets totaling 4.2 gigawatts of energy generation capacity and has another 7 gigawatts under construction. The bond sale followed an additional US$329 million commitment from two sovereign wealth funds, Singapore’s GIC Private Limited, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which itself had come on the heels of a previous infusion of US$495 million by sovereign wealth funds for Greenko to build power storage projects. India has set ambitious clean energy targets: it plans to achieve 175 gigawatts by 2022 and 500 gigawatts by 2030. Meeting these goals is estimated to require north of US$250 billion in investments from 2023-2030.

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.