Doing Business 2020

World Bank Group

The Doing Business Index is a high-profile benchmarking index that tracks the “ease of business” across 190 economies. The 2020 iteration is the 17th in this series of annual reports and provides quantitative analysis and insights into the regulations that constrain or enhance the activities of businesses.  Read it here.

Measuring Value Created by Impact Incubators & Accelerators

I-DEV International, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) & Agora Partnerships

This report analyzes the role of impact incubators and accelerators in the social innovation ecosystem. Their popularity has grown as interest in entrepreneurship has risen. This report quantifies the value created by incubation and acceleration programs and proposes an assessment framework to compare and benchmark them against each other. It draws upon more than 100 stakeholder interviews and surveys, including from Asia.  Read it here.

Philanthropy and Islam

Mohamed Amersi & Ayatollah Fazel Milani (Philanthropy Impact Magazine)

This article analyzes the significance of charity in Islam. While philanthropy is embedded in most religions, it is one of the central tenants in Islam, instructing followers to connect with each other and the community at large. This article examines the two kinds of philanthropy practiced in Islam: obligatory (zakat and fitrana) and voluntary (sadaqa and waqf). Read it here.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle

World Bank Group

This series provides the most up-to-date estimates and trends on global poverty and shared prosperity. The 2018 edition broadens the way poverty is defined and measured, introducing a multi-faceted measurement approach connected to household consumption and the international poverty line (US$1.90 per person per day). Lack of access to infrastructure and education is also included as a facet of poverty. Relative poverty within households, sliced by gender and age, is also analyzed. The report shows that countries in East and South Asia have made impressive progress in poverty reduction. The poverty rate in countries in East Asia and the Pacific dropped from 62% in 1990 to less than 3% in 2015. And the number of poor people in South Asia dropped from half a billion in 1990 to 216 million in 2015. Read it here.

Aid barriers and the rise of philanthropic protectionism

Douglas Rutzen (International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law)

This article discusses the restrictions imposed by many countries on civil society organizations that impede them from receiving foreign funding. These organizations are coming under increasing scrutiny as governments grow wary of foreign influence and increasingly perceive it as a threat to political stability. It explores the rationale for increased restrictions on foreign funding in this context and draws from several examples from Asia including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. Read it here.

The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy

Palgrave Macmillan

This publication is a comprehensive guide to the philanthropic sectors of 26 economies, including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. It provides an overview of the landscape of giving, the role that government and religion play, fiscal incentives, and the legal policies that shape philanthropic giving. It also seeks to understand what motivates individuals to give and why the level of giving varies across countries. Read it here.

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

16 March 2020 - 29 March 2020

THE GIVERS
Philanthropists are funding vaccine research, donating supplies, and setting up funds to support hard-hit communities. Crowdfunding websites in Indonesia and Singapore are also seeing a surge in donations.

Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder, has donated millions of masks, test kits, and other relief materials to countries around the world. This includes the hardest-hit countries—the United States, Korea, Iran, Spain, and Italy—as well as other countries across EuropeAsia, Latin America, and Africa. Ma’s initiative is a collaboration between his eponymous foundation and Alibaba Foundation. The Jack Ma Foundation pledged US$14.4 million to vaccine research—including US$2.15 million to Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and US$2.15 million to researchers at Columbia University in New York. 

Anand Mahindra, Mahindra Group chairman, offered 100% of his salary to a new Mahindra Foundation fund that will assist hardest-hit communities like small businesses and self-employed individuals.

Lei Jun, Xiaomi CEO, contributed US$1.8 million to relief efforts. The donation went to his home province of Hubei—the epicenter of the outbreak.

Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong tycoon, donated US$13 million to help Wuhan amidst its outbreak. His eponymous foundation also sourced medical supplies for hospital workers in Hong Kong and Wuhan.

The Lee family, which controls Henderson Land Development, set up an anti-epidemic foundation with seed-funding of US$1.4 million.

Adrian Cheng, scion of the family group behind New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, donated over US$7 million to nonprofits, schools, and hospital in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Indonesian crowdfunding platform Kitabisa sees surge in fundraising campaigns for Covid-19. A total of 513 campaigns have been initiated by public figures, nonprofits, and members of the general public. Total donations amounted to US$1.4 million as of March 23.

Giving.sg, sees 67% spike in donations. More than US$1.5 million was raised on Singapore’s official fundraising site. 15% of the total was raised from campaigns included in the SG United Movement—a government initiative launched on February 20th to streamline contributions to coronavirus-related initiatives.

THE NONPROFITS
Charities in different cities are stepping up their operations and raising money for communities both at home and abroad.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust set up a HK$50 million (approximately US$6.5 million) Covid-19 Emergency Fund to provide emergency support to local communities and mitigate the health and societal impact of the outbreak.

Singapore Red Cross collected donations worth more than US$4.5 million for relief efforts related to the outbreak. Approximately US$1.7 million went to purchasing and distributing protective equipment for hospital staff and other healthcare workers in China. The charity also worked to educate Singaporeans about the outbreak by calling and visiting senior citizens to ease their concerns.

Pakistan’s largest charities, including Al-Khidmat Foundation and Saylani Welfare, are aiding the country’s Covid-19 efforts. Al-Khidmat Foundation is distributing soaps, sanitizers, and face masks across the country, and has designated isolation wards in the 52 charity hospitals it runs. Saylani Welfare has introduced a mobile phone application and telephone service where families in need can register themselves to get rations and supplies.

THE BUSINESSES
Companies are setting up their own Covid-19 relief funds, leveraging their resources to contribute to relief efforts, and supporting government initiatives. Others are donating through charities or donating needed medical supplies. Companies across Asia are also taking a “business not as usual” approach to help relieve financial stress.

Setting up funds to help combat Covid-19.

Tencent announced a US$100 million Global Anti-Pandemic Fund, with an initial focus on sourcing medical supplies for hospitals and healthcare workers. Prior to this global fund, Tencent had also established the China Anti-Pandemic Fund, which had allocated US$211 million towards research, medical supplies, technology support, as well as towards support for frontline workers, patients and their families. 

Alibaba set up a US$144 million fund to source medical supplies for Wuhan and Hubei province.

Godrej Group earmarked a fund of around US$7 million for community support and relief initiatives in India focused on public health.

Swire Group Charitable Trust (Swire Trust) established the HK$3 million (approximately US$400,000) “Community Fund to fight Covid-19” to support NGOs in delivering their services safely amidst the outbreak. Swire Group also donated over US$1.5 million to help combat the outbreak in Hong Kong.

K. Wah International (KWIH) announced a roughly US$500,000 donation through its KWIH Anti-Epidemic Fund for Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGH). The fund will convert part of the Jockey Club Ngai Chun Integrated Vocational Rehabilitation Centre into a surgical mask production factory. TWGH will provide job training for people with disabilities to assist in the production of an estimated 2.2 million surgical masks per month.

Samsung Group raised nearly US$1 billion for an emergency support fund to aid to its subcontractors amidst Covid-19.

HSBC announced a US$25 million Covid-19 donation fund. The money will support international medical response, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure food security around the world. US$15 million will be made available immediately, with the remaining designated for long-term Covid-19 commitments.

Supporting government initiatives.

Unilever Vietnam committed US$2.245 million and partnered with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Training to implement its “Stay Strong Vietnam” initiative. Unilever also pledged to donate 550 tonnes of personal hygiene items, sanitization products, and food products to over 1.6 million people across 3,000 schools, hospitals, and isolated communities.

Petronas contributed nearly US$5 million worth of medical equipment and supplies for medical front-liners in Malaysia through its CSR arm Yayasan Petronas. The contribution will be carried out in stages in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Agency.

Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and Government-Linked Investment Companies’ (GLICs) Disaster Response Network, is coordinating support from companies to assist the Malaysian Health Ministry in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The Disaster Response Network is managed by a joint secretariat led by Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation under Khazanah Nasional, and Telekom Malaysia. Early contributions from GLCs, GLICs, and private sector entities exceed US$9 million.

Malaysian companies including Spanco, DRB-HICOM, MMC Corp, and YTL Corp contributed donations ranging from US$230,000 to US$500,000 to the Covid-19 fund launched by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

11 Filipino-Chinese organizations, led by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced a donation of nearly US$2 million worth of medical supplies. The donation will help the Philippines’ Department of Health acquire testing kits and other protective equipment.

Tencent joined Baidu and ByteDance to donate a total of US$115 million towards researching new treatments and helping authorities in the most affected areas in China.

Adaro Energy, Indonesia’s major coal producer, gave the government US$1.3 million to help it fight Covid-19 through its task force.

Leveraging their own resources.

Alibaba Cloud, DAMO Academy, and DingTalk together launched a series of AI technologies and cloud-based solutions to support companies and research organizations worldwide.

Mahindra Group offered resorts owned by the company to be used as Covid-19 hospitals. The Group’s chairman announced that the company is prepared to help government efforts. The Group’s engineering team also indigenously developed a prototype for a ventilator that could cost less than US$100 each.

Reliance will make 100,000 masks per day and offer free fuel to emergency vehicles. Reliance’s CSR arm has prepared one of its hospitals in Mumbai to be India’s first 100-bed facility for Covid-19 patients, and is offering free meals in various cities to support affected communities.

New World Development is outfitting a factory to manufacture more than 200,000 masks per day, and it has partnered with a nanotechnology company to research how nanodiamonds can be used to make masks more protective against bacteria and viruses.

Donating through charities or donating supplies.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs in India announced that the spending of CSR funds towards Covid-19 initiatives is eligible to be counted as CSR activity under the Companies Act. This frees up around US$2 billion in philanthropic capital to go towards combatting Covid-19.

Tata Trusts has committed nearly US$200 million to fight Covid-19. The funds will be used to buy protective equipment for medical workers, respiratory systems, testing kits, as well as for setting up modular treatment facilities for patients.

Shimao Property Holdings donated around US$4 million, via the Red Cross Society of China, to help combat the outbreak.

APP, a subsidiary of Indonesia-based Sinar Mars Group, donated US$14.4 million to the Overseas Chinese Charity Foundation of China.

Huawei contributed to the construction of the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan and donated medical supplies, computer tablets, and other technological equipment to several European countries. This includes 2 million face masks.

Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, and LG Group donated over US$4 million each to the Community Chest of Korea to assist the hardest-hit city of Daegu and North Gyeongsang province.

Samsung Group donated a combined US$24.6 million to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Hana Financial Group, Shinsegae Group, Doosan Group, and CJ Group each offered nearly US$1 million in donations to the Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Lotte Group donated nearly US$1 million, of which US$254,000 went to the Korean Red Cross.

For hard-hit communities, including those in North Gyeongsang province, SK Group’s SK Siltron announced nearly US$400,000 for face masks and hand sanitizers. LG Household & Healthcare announced nearly US$1 million for hand sanitizer. Lotte provided meals and hygienic supplies to welfare facilities and gave sanitization products, food, and daily necessities to lower-income households, senior citizens, and healthcare workers.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pledged to donate 1 million masks to elderly care facilities and doctors in Japan.

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is donating 10 million masks to medical institutions in Japan and around the world. It’s also donating garments for medical staff and 1 million masks to countries with high infection rates—including the United States and Italy. 

Shiseido Group donated US$1.43 million to the Shanghai Charity Foundation and US$143,000 to the Charity Foundation of Wuhan. It also announced the Relay of Love Project, which will allocate 1% of the Group’s sales in Asian markets, between February and July this year, as in-house funds to support regions most affected by Covid-19.

Ayeyarwady Foundation together with Max Myanmar Group, AYA Bank, and AYA Sompo Insurance contributed over US$72,000 worth of medical supplies, hospital equipment, and protective materials to Waibargi Hospital and Yankin Children Hospital.

“Business not as usual” approach.

Gojek is offering a stipend to its driver-partners that test positive for Covid-19. Gojek is also extending support to healthcare workers in Indonesia by waiving food delivery fees in areas near hospitals and offering vouchers for trips to and from hospitals and testing centers.

Ayala Group announced around a US$47 million response package to offer financial relief to businesses within its ecosystem. This includes salary continuance for affected employees and partners, as well as rent-free periods for tenants of Ayala malls, which are closed during the community quarantine till April 14.

Bangkok Bank donated over US$300,000 to Thammasat University Field Hospital, the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and Thai Red Cross Society. The bank is also introducing financial relief measures such as reducing minimum payment rate for credit card customers to 5%.

CIMB in Malaysia is offering a six-month moratorium for customers on all types of financing payments except for credit cards. Credit card customers can now opt in to convert their outstanding balances into a term loan/financing over a period of up to 36 months.

THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
Social enterprises are adjusting their work to address the needs arising from Covid-19.

Hong Kong social enterprises are rising to the occasion to help combat the outbreak. SoapCycling has distributed masks and soap salvaged from local hotels to nearly 3,000 of the city’s street cleaners. Sew On Studio is selling face mask kits with fabric made by the city’s elderly tailors. Rooftop Republic, which usually promotes urban farming, is making washable, eco-friendly masks that can be worn over surgical masks.

Chinese social enterprise Yishan, a data-driven donor advisor, has built a platform for donations towards supporting Covid-19 relief efforts. So far, Yishan has registered over 40,000 grantmakers and 5,000 public charities, who have raised over US$4.5 billion thus far for their efforts in fighting Covid-19.

THE VOLUNTEERS
New volunteers are stepping up and coming together to help their communities during the crisis.

A new generation of volunteers emerges in Wuhan. Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, ordinary people stepped up and joined forces to take care of emergency needs unmet by an overwhelmed government. Networks of young volunteers were formed over social media to respond to a variety of needs, from sourcing masks for hospitals to driving medical staff to and from work.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

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

RESOURCES
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought much attention to financial markets and businesses, but the nonprofit sector has also been severely impacted in these unprecedented times. These resources offer guidelines for how the sector can weather the storm.

India Development Review highlights five ways funders around the world are helping their partners cope with Covid-19. IDR has also crowdsourced guidelines and practices that social sector organizations—from donors to field workers—are taking in response to Covid-19.

Who’s Doing Good?

02 March 2020 - 15 March 2020

THE GIVERS

Jack Ma to donate test kits, masks to US in fight against coronavirus. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announced a donation of 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and 1 million masks to the United States, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Ma’s initiative, a collaboration between his eponymous foundation and Alibaba Foundation, also includes donating relief materials to Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran, and Spain. Ma has also urged for international cooperation and speedy, accurate testing to fight the health crisis. “The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country,” he said in a statement. As the number of cases rise in the United States, American billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have also recently announced initiatives to expand testing in their localities.

THE NONPROFITS

Gates Foundation and Wellcome set up US$125 million coronavirus drug fund. The world’s two largest medical research foundations are committing US$50 million each in “seed funding” for a Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, according to Financial Times. Mastercard’s Impact Fund charity is joining the effort with a US$25 million contribution. The Accelerator aims to develop treatments for Covid-19 and serve as a catalyst to draw in more funding. Wellcome director Jeremy Farrar expressed hope that other donors will see the Accelerator as an attractive vehicle to support research and development of Covid-19 treatments. Farrar sits on the board of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which recently estimated that US$1.5 billion will be required for research and development of a portfolio of four Covid-19 treatments. The Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, governments and the private sector to provide fast and flexible funding at all stages from research to scale-up.

Coronavirus-battered NGOs say Hong Kong’s charity sector needs government aid to keep doing their work, avoid redundancies. A group of larger Hong Kong nonprofits is calling for help as donations decline amid the coronavirus outbreak. The nonprofits told South China Morning Post that the sector is struggling to stay afloat as many fundraising events have had to be cancelled. This comes after a difficult year for nonprofits, who were already facing fundraising challenges amidst last year’s anti-government protests. While the government rolled out a HK$30 billion (approximately US$4 billion) relief package last month, nonprofits are saying the sector—which employs 52,000 people—is not among those benefiting from the relief package. Sue Toomey, executive director of HandsOn Hong Kong, a charity that connect volunteers with community needs, noted “In the same way as the government seems to be acting quickly to help small businesses, we’d like to see similar consideration given to nonprofit organizations.”

Which charities to donate to? Singapore’s new index to help public decide at a glance. Charities in Singapore could be “graded” by next year in a new initiative announced by the Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community, and Youth. The new regulatory compliance indicator is expected to be rolled out next year on the government’s charity portal website. Aiming to help donors make informed choices, the new indicator will show whether a charity has met the minimum 80% regulatory compliance prescribed in the Code of Governance for Charities and IPCs, and whether its audit opinion has been qualified. A national initiative will also be rolled out to encourage legacy giving (planned donation from a person’s assets). The Community Foundation of Singapore’s chief executive underscored its importance, saying, “There are donors interested in making legacy gifts, but they want more knowledge to make informed choices. They want accountability for their gifts and trust is important before they are willing to donate.” An online pledge system will also be introduced, streamlining the process.

THE BUSINESSES

Hong Kong’s social enterprise sector needs HK$40 million (approximately US$5.2 million) relief package to survive coronavirus crisis, government told. Similar to the nonprofit sector in Hong Kong, the social enterprise sector is also seeking assistance. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) surveyed 214 social enterprises, around a third of the city’s social enterprise sector, to showcase the challenges social enterprises are facing during the coronavirus outbreak. The survey revealed that nearly 20% had no revenue at all, and one in four had either closed or suspended operations. The average turnover of most companies interviewed more than halved in January and February, compared with the same period last year. With around 40% reporting that their cash flow will only sustain them for less than three months, the HKGCSE is urging the government to phase in a series of measures to help such as HK$80,000 (approximately US$10,000) for each social enterprise which has received government funding, rent waivers, and special subsidies to cover the salaries of handicapped staff. Perhaps in response, the Hong Kong government has just announced a HK$5.6 billion (US$722 million) “Retail Sector Subsidy Scheme” under the “Anti-epidemic Fund,” which is open to applications from social enterprises. The Scheme will provide a one-off subsidy of HK$80,000 to retailers facing financial difficulties amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Retail stores of social enterprises are eligible to apply through the Social Enterprise Business Centre (SEBC).

THE INNOVATORS

United Nations ESCAP and SEAF partner to unlock US$150 million in capital to advance female entrepreneurship in Asia. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) have partnered to “catalyze women’s entrepreneurship through impact investing in Asia.” The collaboration aims to unlock growth capital through the development and management of private equity impact funds focused on women. SEAF will launch and manage the SEAF Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund as well as expand SEAF Bangladesh Ventures. ESCAP will support SEAF with technical assistance and grant support. Together the two funds will collectively bring over US$150 million in capital towards catalyzing the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in ASEAN and Bangladesh.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore sees spike in donations, volunteers in February. Giving.sg, a fundraising website run by the Singapore’s National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), supports over 500 organizations in sourcing volunteers and donations. Donations to the site significantly increased last month amid the coronavirus outbreak, raising more than SG$2.2 million (approximately US$1.5 million). According to NVPC, this is 67%, or almost SG$900,000 (approximately US$650,000), more than that raised in the same period last year. The number of people who volunteered through the site in February also rose to over 1,000 volunteer sign-ups, a 10% uptick from February last year, according to Straits Times. The NVPC reported that 15% of the amount raised last month was from its 19 campaigns that are part of the SG United Movement—which the government launched on February 20th—to “streamline contributions to help those affected by the virus outbreak, including linking to coronavirus-related initiatives on the Giving.sg site.”

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.