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

30 March 2020 - 05 April 2020

THE GIVERS
Philanthropists are donating supplies and funding initiatives supporting hard-hit communities.

Azim Premji, one of India’s most generous philanthropists, earmarked Rs1,125 crore (nearly US$150 million) to fight Covid-19. This charitable initiative is a joint effort by his eponymous foundation and Wipro, the IT company he founded. The Azim Premji Foundation is giving US$132 million, Wipro’s commitment is around US$14 million, and Wipro Enterprises around US$4 million. The funds will focus on providing immediate humanitarian aid.

Ratan Tata, Tata Trusts chairman and CAPS advisory board member, took to Twitter after he announced a Rs500 crore (approximately US$66 million) donation. In his message he stated, “In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the Covid-19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face.” Tata Sons and Tata Trusts have contributed a combined Rs1,500 crore (approximately US$200 million) to the fight against Covid-19.

Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, co-founders of Alibaba, have donated 2.3 million masks, 170,000 pieces of protective gear, and 2,000 ventilators to New York—the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Meer Foundation, an NGO that works to rehabilitate burn and acid attack survivors and empower women in India, is joining the fight against Covid-19. Along with Ek Saath-The Earth Foundation, it will provide food to over 5,500 families and set up a kitchen to produce 2,000 cooked meals for households and hospitals in India. Meer Foundation and Roti Foundation will provide 300,000 meal kits for 10,000 people per day for at least a month. Meer Foundation will also provide essential items and groceries to over 3,500 wage workers across Delhi.

China NGO Consortium for Covid-19 was jointly launched by foundations (including the Narada Foundation) and local NGOs on February 2, 2020. So far, 67 Chinese foundations and NGOs have joined the consortium to share information and technical knowledge, build the capacity of front-line NGOs, and mobilize funding. The consortium also fosters collaborating to coordinate the social sector’s response to the pandemic.

Singapore’s Community Chest, the fundraising arm of the government’s National Council of Social Service, is giving SG$3,000 (approximately US$2,100) to social service agencies to cope with outbreak-related expenses.

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 offering medical supplies, food and beverages, and cash vouchers to affected communities. 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.

Hang Lung Group established the Hang Lung Novel Coronavirus Relief Fund to support a series of volunteering activities to combat Covid-19. This includes delivering health and food kits to over 10,000 beneficiaries in Hong Kong and mainland China. Hang Lung also donated nearly US$1 million from the Fund to Leishenshan Hospital.

Bajaj Group committed Rs100 crore (nearly US$14 million) to the fight against Covid-19 in India. The funding will go towards multiple initiatives including upgrading healthcare infrastructure, testing, and procuring medical equipment. A significant portion will go towards an economic aid program in rural areas, which includes direct survival grants followed by a livelihood intervention using a revolving fund mode. 

Jollibee Group allocated nearly US$20 million for an emergency fund to provide its employees with the needed financial support during the quarantine period enforced in the Philippines. The fund covers all employees of the Group’s offices, stores, commissaries, and logistics centers, including senior citizens and people with disabilities assigned to stores under the joint employment program with local government units.

Gokongwei Group’s philanthropic arm, the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, established a near US$2 million fund to help fight Covid-19 in the Philippines. Funds are earmarked for front-line healthcare workers and will be distributed among UP Medical Foundation, referral hospitals identified by the Department of Health, and other hospitals at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. The Foundation has also distributed in-kind donations, including PPE.

The Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings Group of the Ty family pledged a US$4 million fund for initiatives that support the fight against Covid-19 in the Philippines. These initiatives will help produce test kits and purchase PPE for front-line healthcare workers.

Macquarie Group is joining the effort and allocating A$20 million (approximately US$13 million) to the Macquarie Group Foundation to support select nonprofits in their response and relief work for Covid-19. Alongside this, the Foundation is offering flexible funding to its grantees during this time.

Supporting government initiatives.

Aboitiz Group’s Ramon Aboitiz Foundation partnered with the Cebu City government and the Metropolitan Cebu Water District for #HUNAW, a handwashing campaign to help mitigate Covid-19. The initiative includes installing sinks in areas with low water supply and without clean handwashing facilities, as well as deploying handwashing trucks to reach impoverished communities and densely populated informal settlements.

PLDT, one of the Philippines’ largest telecommunications companies, teamed up with the Department of Health to establish an emergency hotline for Covid-19. PLDT chairman and chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said the collaboration is part of the company’s continuing efforts to fight Covid-19, noting that the hotline can help provide information and enable health authorities to deliver proper patient diagnosis and treatment.

India’s PM CARES fund, the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, has seen significant contributions from India’s private sector. Among the list of donations are: Rs500 crore (approximately US$67 million) from Reliance Industries; Rs400 crore (approximately US$53 million) from Aditya Birla Group; Rs150 crore (approximately US$20 million) from HDFC Group; Rs105 crore (approximately US$14 million) from LIC; and Rs50 crore (US$7 million) from Uday Kotak and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Bangladesh Association of Banks donated Tk147.73 crore (approximately US$18 million) to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for purchasing medical equipment to combat Covid-19.

Indonesian conglomerate Bakrie Group donated US$1.2 million to the Covid-19 taskforce led by the government’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Bakrie Group CEO and president director Anindya Bakrie stated that his company wanted to contribute to helping the government combat the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia as the pandemic had led to a “multi-dimensional crisis”.

Korean conglomerate LG will donate 50,000 diagnostic test kits to Indonesia to help the Indonesian government handle the spread of Covid-19.

Companies are leveraging their resources to help fight Covid-19. Examples include: Godrej Group, which launched the #ProtektIndiaMovement, a nationwide campaign to promote mass awareness around handwashing. As the country’s second-largest soap maker, the Group has pledged to ramp up its production to meet the demand for soap and sanitizers. Indorama Ventures (IVL), the Thai petrochemical company, is accelerating the production of a fiber to make 54 million masks in one month.

Companies are donating PPE, test kits, and other medical equipment to front-line healthcare workers and affected communities. Examples include: Hang Lung Group in Hong Kong and mainland China; Aboitiz Group, SM Group, and Filinvest Development Corp in the Philippines; Chaudhary Group in Nepal; and Sido Muncul and Mayapada Group and the Tahir Foundation in Indonesia.

Companies are donating food, beverages, and cash vouchers to communities affected by quarantine measures, such as low-income families and daily-wage earners. Examples include: Aboitiz Group’s food subsidiary Pilmico, Fruitas Holdings, Manila Water Foundation, Jollibee Group, and San Miguel Corporation in the Philippines; Chaudhary Group in Nepal; Sido Muncul and Mayapada Group and the Tahir Foundation in Indonesia; and Reliance Industries in India. Companies with large numbers of daily-wage earners in their ecosystem, like Zee Group in India, are committing to continuing their pay to ensure that families of daily-wage earners are not severely impacted during Covid-19.

Companies in the Philippines are joining forces through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a private sector disaster risk reduction and management network. PDRF has partnered with Globe Telecom’s e-wallet service Gcash, Fintech Alliance Philippines, Smart Communications’ e-wallet service Paymaya, and crowdfunding platform Gava Gives to purchase PPE for healthcare institutions. Another example is Project Ugnayan, a fundraising initiative led by top business conglomerates in cooperation with the PDRF and Caritas Manila. The initiative has reached a total of P1.62 billion (approximately US$33 million) in donations to aid those economically displaced by the ongoing Enhanced Community Quarantine in Greater Metro Manila.

Real estate companies are waiving rent so that tenants can lend more financial assistance to their employees. Examples include: SM Supermalls, Gokongwei Group’s Robinsons Land Corp, and Filinvest Lifemalls in the Philippines; and Central Pattana, Phuket Square, and Rangsit Plaza in Thailand.

Banks are setting forth financial relief measures for their customers. The Straits Times shares examples of banks around the world, including in Singapore and Malaysia, that are suspending loan repayments as Covid-19 upends financial stability for many borrowers. Another example is Gokongwei Group’s Robinsons Bank in the Philippines, which is offering its customers an extension of the payment period for their various loan products.

Another company taking a “business not as usual” approach is Coca-Cola Philippines. It canceled all of its commercial advertising activities and dedicated its advertising budget of US$2.94 million to supporting Covid-19 relief and response efforts. The funds will support front-line healthcare workers and economically challenged communities in the Philippines. The company also pledged support to its distributors who serve small sari-sari stores and carinderias.

THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
While social enterprises are joining the fight against Covid-19, they’re also bearing the financial brunt of the pandemic.

Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre surveyed 239 startups and social enterprises in Malaysia on the impact of Covid-19 on their business. About 25% said they will not be able to survive for longer than two more months, and a mere 3% are confident of surviving at all if Covid-19 continues for more than 12 months. When asked about the need for financial aid, 35% said they needed loans, 24% asked for grants or subsidies, and 4% asked for deferment in repayments. However, the majority (75%) were unaware or unsure of the various support instruments or incentives available during this time. For example, Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara, and CIMB Bank have both set forth financial relief measures for borrowers.

THE INNOVATORS
Social innovation is leading to new ways to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Thai hospitals deploy ‘ninja robots’ to aid coronavirus battles. The robots were first built to monitor recovering stroke patients but have been quickly repurposed to help fight Covid-19. So far, the robots have helped staff at four hospitals in and around Bangkok to reduce the risk of infection by allowing doctors and nurses to speak to patients over video. Later models will be designed to bring food and medicine to patients and to disinfect hospital wards.

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

Azim Premji Foundation published a Covid-19 Pandemic Response Plan, a set of guidelines for civil society organizations in India looking to join the fight against Covid-19 and amplify their efforts. The Foundation brought together experts and practitioners from relevant fields to adumbrate areas of response in which organizations can contribute significantly to relief efforts, including assessing critical needs and conducting the “last-mile connect and delivery” of supplies and services to extend the reach of government relief measures.

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

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

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?

17 February 2020 - 1 March 2020

THE GIVERS

Operation Santa Claus (OSC) raises more than HK$15 million for charities helping Hong Kong’s disadvantaged. Jointly run by South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK, the annual Christmas fundraising drive raised a total of US$1.9 million. This money will be distributed to 13 local organizations that are “directing aid to the city’s underprivileged as well as individuals with mental and physical disabilities.” The article also lists top corporate and school fundraisers, as well as the most creative fundraising initiatives. This is the 32nd edition of the fundraising drive, and South China Morning Post’s chief executive officer underscored its continued importance: “We look forward to many more years of serving our community through OSC. Together, we will elevate this city and make a lasting difference.”

Donations give relief efforts more teeth in Hong Kong. The Li Ka Shing Foundation has announced that it will provide 250,000 masks for more than a dozen social welfare organizations and six elderly homes. Two local banks also announced donations. The Bank of China is set to donate HK$13 million (approximately US$2 million) to support the underprivileged and medical staff. The Bank of East Asia has partnered with 10 NGOs to donate HK$2 million (approximately US$300,000) toward helping at least 20,000 individuals, primarily the underprivileged including the elderly and disabled people.

Singapore Red Cross to send SG$2.3 million worth of aid to China, steps up local outreach to seniors. The charity has raised more than SG$6 million (approximately US$4.5 million) in donations towards relief efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak. SG$2.3 million (approximately US$1.7 million) will be sent to China for the purpose of purchasing and distributing protective equipment for hospital staff and other healthcare workers. The charity also stated that it is stepping up local efforts to educate Singaporeans about the outbreak by visiting senior citizens and making phone calls to them to ease their concerns. According to Straits Times, the government is also supporting the effort: “The charity launched its public appeal for funds to aid those in China affected by the outbreak on February 4, with the Singapore Government on the same day contributing SG$1 million (approximately US$800,000) to kick-start fund-raising efforts.”

THE THINKERS

Can ethical businesses bring a breath of fresh air to Asia’s polluted cities? Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on social enterprises that are tackling air pollution by making air purifiers affordable for the most vulnerable. According to the article, India is home to 15 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, yet businesses are selling air purifies at prices “well beyond the reach of the average resident.” Social enterprises are stepping in to bridge this gap. An associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago underscored how the social enterprise model is particularly important for making purifiers accessible when the industry is failing to do so. “This industry is clearly divorced from reality—in a way that harms people. That’s where social enterprise is most needed.”

How digital technology is paving the way for a more socially responsible India. Forbes looks at the role of digital technology in amplifying the impact of India’s social enterprise sector. This article gives insight into the digital journeys of three Indian social enterprises and explores how digital technology can be a critical tool for helping social enterprises scale in different ways. According to a British Council report, there are an estimated 2 million social enterprises in India, and they have lofty ambitions: 78% of Indian social enterprises aim to expand into new areas and 73% aim to increase their customer base. CAPS’ recent report, Business for Good: maximizing the value of social enterprises in Asia, also explores how most social enterprises in Asia aim to scale, but scaling can take on different forms—from scaling out geographically to expanding to new beneficiaries to scaling up to effectuate policy change. 

THE NONPROFITS

Civil society organizations ally to combat malnutrition in the Philippines. Civil society organizations (CSOs) from across the Philippines will convene to unify efforts in combatting malnutrition. The event will focus on the important role of CSOs in tackling malnutrition in partnership with the government, as it aims to “create a collaborative environment where CSOs can align their distinct strategies, programs, and resources with the government’s national nutrition priorities.” The event is part of an 18-month project titled “Strengthening capacities of civil society and government stakeholders on nutrition-sensitive programs.” This project is jointly run by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, the Scaling-Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Philippines, and the government’s National Nutrition Council. 

THE BUSINESSES

Social enterprises help out with coronavirus across Asia. While schools and offices are closed across Asia due to the coronavirus outbreak, social enterprises are stepping up to help meet community needs. This article highlights how by sharing examples of Hong Kong social enterprises that are rising to the occasion. Soap Cycling has distributed hygiene kits and masks to about 3,000 of the city’s 21,000 street cleaners, and Sew On Studio has created face mask kits made for the elderly to assemble at home. Rooftop Republic is also joining these efforts and has teamed up with a uniform supplier to create washable, eco-friendly masks that can be worn over surgical masks in humid conditions.

THE VOLUNTEERS

A new generation of volunteers emerges in the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis. Time gives insight into the legion of new volunteers in Wuhan—the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak—and how they are stepping up to help. The article states, “Against the backdrop of the outbreak, ordinary people in the city of 11 million are stepping up and joining forces to create an informal civil society taking care of emergency needs unmet by an overwhelmed government.” These young volunteers are responding to a variety of needs, from sourcing masks for hospitals to driving medical staff to and from work. Networks of volunteers are also being built across social media. Time also looks at brewing mistrust of the Red Cross amidst recent allegations of under-utilized or misused donations. Many in China are choosing to donate through close friend networks instead. Some of these volunteer networks are creating logistics supply chains for equipment to be donated directly to hospitals in need, effectively bypassing large charities.

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. 

Business for Good

Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia

Asia is home to one-third of the world’s wealth and also to two-thirds of the world’s poor. The confluence of unprecedented wealth and unmet needs gives it both the mandate for and ability to leverage the power of social enterprises.

Our action-oriented study explores how. We identify gaps and quantify needs in funding, mentorship, talent and government support. But we also highlight how enablers—including incubators, accelerators, universities—can continue to support social enterprises. We suggest ways for social entrepreneurs and investors to align expectations in the hope of increasing deal flow and investment into the sector. And we outline how governments can strategize to better support social enterprise ecosystem.

We do this by not only drawing upon a global literature review, but listening to what Asian social enterprises themselves say. We surveyed 584 social enterprises from 6 economies: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan and Thailand, and profiled China and India. We also interviewed 140 social enterprise founders, incubators, accelerators, investors and government officials in depth. This original data not only informs our insights, it forms a unique repository of evidence in this space. Our data makes it easier to see Asia’s social enterprises as they really are.

As many families and companies are thinking about or starting to invest in social business as well as in incubators and ecosystem organizations, our findings are particularly timely and relevant. The 6 economies we gathered data from have more than 1.2 million social enterprises, and attract at least US$100 million of direct and indirect government spending per year. These economies are understudied, have growing social enterprise sectors with enormous potential, and—most importantly—are diverse enough for our insights to be generalizable to other regions in Asia.

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?

28 October 2019 - 10 November 2019

THE GIVERS

RS Group and Convergence launch US$3 million blended finance funding window for natural capital in Asia. Convergence, a global network for blended finance, and RS Group, a Hong Kong-based family office, have launched the Asia Natural Capital Design Funding Window to support “practitioners who are finding new ways to enhance and protect the world’s stock of natural assets, including water, land, soil, air, plants, and animals.” By using blended finance solutions, the Window aims to draw new investors into this underfunded development area. Channeling investment into natural capital is especially important for bridging the US$200-300 billion annual funding gap in preserving the world’s last healthy ecosystems. 

Programs by National Parks Board and donation from billionaire Peter Lim will help young Singaporeans develop green thumb. Together with partner organizations, National Parks Board (NParks) will create more opportunities for young Singaporeans to learn about greenery and biodiversity. These efforts are bolstered by billionaire Peter Lim’s SG$10 million (approximately US$8 million) donation to NParks’ Garden City Fund–the single largest donation by any individual to the fund. Thanks to Lim’s generosity, students from less-privileged backgrounds will have access to NParks’ programs including the new Green Friends Forum and Youth Stewards for Nature. NParks offers programs for students from pre-school to university. 

THE THINKERS

The Macquarie Group Foundation and Seefar Enterprise launch new report on forced labor in Asia. Seefar Enterprise, a social enterprise that conducts research and supports vulnerable groups in Asia, recently launched their report, “Making Migration Work: Understanding forced labour amongst migrant domestic workers in Asia.” The report focuses on the forced labor of migrant domestic workers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation, the study surveyed over 3,000 returned and current migrant domestic workers, of whom 77% reported indicators of forced labor. The report shares migrant workers’ perspectives and compares recruitment processes and working conditions across the four economies. 

THE BUSINESSES

Philippine private sector responds to Mindanao earthquake. Through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), the Philippine private sector has provided air and ground transportation, relief goods, water, and sanitation support to those affected by the magnitude 6.5 Mindanao earthquake. Private sector actors who have stepped up include Aboitiz Foundation/Aboitiz Power, the Ayala Foundation, Globe Telecom, Manila Water, and Air Asia, among others. Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, who is also co-chair of PDRF, stated, “The private sector is committed to helping people affected by the Mindanao earthquake. Through PDRF, we are extending assistance and mobilizing resources for relief and recovery.”

DBS Asia Hub 2 opens Digital Literacy Centre in Hyderabad, India. In partnership with the NASSCOM Foundation, DBS Asia Hub 2 opened its Digital Literacy Centre in Hyderabad. The center aims to facilitate training infrastructure in support of the National Digital Literacy Mission initiative by the Government of India. This includes teaching basic computer and digital skills as well as empowering beneficiaries to leverage the power of social media and the internet. Alex Woo, CEO of DBS Asia Hub 2, stated, “Digital Literacy Centre aligns with the larger ethos of being purpose-driven and making a positive impact on lives. This initiative is a step towards fulfilling our vision to become the best bank for a better world.”

Samsung and LG reach out to society by donating electronics. The Korea Herald highlights how Korea’s leading conglomerates are donating their signature electronic devices to meet societal needs in tangible ways. Samsung Electronics plans to donate a total of 1,000 sets of thermal imaging cameras and other equipment to every fire station across the country. This came to fruition after a fire department official took park in the company’s new CSR program, “Samsung Tomorrow Solution,” and proposed the idea of developing thermal imaging cameras and telecom equipment. LG Group had earlier announced plans to donate over 10,000 air purifiers to schools across Korea in response to heightened concerns about unprecedented levels of fine dust. 

Hong Kong companies rank highest in Asia for environmental sustainability. According to Refinitiv’s inaugural “Financing a Sustainable Future in Asia” report, companies in Hong Kong recorded the best overall performance in Asia for environmental sustainability. The report is the first in a series which examines the ESG (environmental, social, governance) performance of the largest companies across Asia. Asia’s regional average score—based on emissions, resource use, and innovation—scored slightly higher than the global average. While Hong Kong leads the region in adopting emissions policies, Japan ranks the best for emissions reductions targets. China has the largest gap between intention and action, where 77% of companies have emissions policies but only 8% have reduction targets. The report also highlights the notable growth of green finance in Asia.

THE INNOVATORS

Temasek-backed ABC World Asia closes inaugural fund for impact investing at US$385 million. ABC World Asia is a private equity fund for impact investing established by Temasek Trust, the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment company Temasek. It will invest in companies that commit to generating measurable social and environmental impact, alongside a compelling risk-adjusted return. The fund will focus on themes including financial and digital inclusion, health and education, climate and water solutions, sustainable food and agriculture, and smart and livable cities. Investments will be made in China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.

Who’s Doing Good?

14 October 2019 - 27 October 2019

THE GIVERS

Shiv Nadar top philanthropist in India, followed by Premji and Ambani. HCL founder and chairman Shiv Nadar was named the most generous individual philanthropist in India. According to the Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2019, Nadar and his family gave Rs826 crore (approximately US$117 million) in 2018. Azim Premji was second on the list followed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The list also noted an almost two-fold increase from the previous year in the number of Indians who donated more than Rs5 crore (nearly US$1 million) to social causes, excluding religious donations. 

THE THINKERS

Universities in Hong Kong should focus more on practice and less on theory to create social change. A new report, Surveying the Landscape of Social Innovation and Higher Education in Hong Kong, pushes universities to “do less theory and more practice to have genuine social impact.” The main findings of the report show a buildout of social innovation research and teaching in Hong Kong. However, the report notes that scholars need to engage in more practical activity and collaborations outside academia to impactfully tackle social challenges. The article details current collaborations in Hong Kong such as the British Council’s BRICKS (Building Research Innovation for Community Knowledge and Sustainability) consortium, and Nurturing Social Minds, a social innovation teaching program funded by the government’s SIE Fund and Yeh Family Philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Change in India’s sector is being powered by tech, young entrepreneurs, and committed funders. As the revenue pool available for nonprofits grows with increased corporate funding and philanthropic funding, the sector is seeing significant change. This includes a new focus on organization-building, talent development, and leadership training. This comes at a time when there is growing acknowledgement globally that donors need to help nonprofits develop their own capacity to achieve greater impact. India’s sector is catching up with promising trends including nonprofit leadership programs, young professionals entering the sector, and more focus on nonprofit organizational development.

THE BUSINESSES

J.P. Morgan commits US$25 million to aid skills development in India. J.P. Morgan has announced a five-year commitment to skills development initiatives for low- and middle-income communities in India. This US$25 million commitment is part of the firm’s five-year US$350 million global commitment to meet the growing demand for skilled workers and to create economic mobility for underserved populations. In collaboration with government and nonprofit leaders, J.P. Morgan will support skills training and career education programs related to the country’s high growth sectors and aligned with market trends. It will also support actionable research to inform future philanthropic investments in India and to share best practices on education and training programs. 

Japan Inc. plays catch up in scramble to bioplastics. Nikkei Asian Review reports on Japanese companies committing to better recycling practices as they risk losing environmentally conscious investors. This includes household goods producer Kao, which is a founding member of a consortium of 265 companies and associations fighting plastic pollution. Beverage giant Suntory Holdings has also stated it will replace fossil fuel-based materials with items made from used plastic bottles and bioplastics by 2030. Kuraray and Mitsubishi Chemical are also joining in. These efforts are intended to help create a circular economy, where products are made from recycled materials, and in turn are recycled. Such a system is estimated to pump at least ¥20 trillion (US$187 billion) into Japan’s economy—nearly 4% of GDP.

Vietnam ed tech startup aims to fill Southeast Asia’s talent pool. A recent report from Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings highlights the region’s shallow talent pool, which is weighing on efforts to boost the internet economy. Education startups, like Vietnam’s Topica Edtech Group, are pioneering digital training grounds for talent development in the Southeast Asian tech scene. At the forefront of Southeast Asia’s burgeoning “ed tech sector,” Topica is upskilling young professionals for the digital age. The startup, which was launched in 2008, now offers 3,000 e-learning courses and has about 1.5 million students in Vietnam and Thailand. Nikkei Asian Review covers the startup’s pivot and journey towards addressing Southeast Asia’s talent shortage, especially in digital technologies.

THE INNOVATORS

Asian Development Bank invests ฿3 billion in Energy Absolute’s green bond. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) climate financing, which supports climate change mitigation, is expected to reach US$80 billion from 2019 to 2030. ADB recently signed an agreement with Energy Absolute, one of the largest renewable energy companies in Thailand. ADB will invest US$98.7 million in Energy Absolute’s maiden green bond issuance, the first bond dedicated to a wind power project in Thailand. The green bond will help support the long-term financing of the company’s 260-megawatt Hanuman wind farm. As the largest wind farm in Thailand, it is expected to reduce the country’s annual carbon emissions by 200,000 tons by 2020. 

Asia-Pacific issuance of green bonds hits record high US$18.9 billion. A recent HSBC report on sustainable financing found that more than a third of Asian investors surveyed noted that the bulk of their clients had negative perceptions of ESG investing, compared with a global figure of around one fifth. However, the region is now “catching up,” according to Financial Times. Green bond issuance in the Asia-Pacific region has reached a record US$18.9 billion raised from 44 green bond issuances in the year to date. A director at Citi, one of the biggest green bond underwriters in the Asia-Pacific region, underscored the growing interest noting, “The amount of enquiries we get tells us that in the future every bond will need to be marketed with an ESG component.”

Who’s Doing Good?

30 September 2019 - 13 October 2019

THE GIVERS

Beauty brand Clé de Peau Beauté pledges US$8.7 million to UNICEF. The beauty brand–a division of Japan’s Shiseido–made the announcement on International Day of the Girl (October 11). The US$8.7 million donation is the “world’s largest contribution” to UNICEF’s Gender Equality Program, according to the announcement. It will aid UNICEF’s work in Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Niger, and other countries. The donation will go towards girls’ education, particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The beauty brand has also pledged a percentage of sales from Clé de Peau’s The Serum product to UNICEF’s girls’ empowerment programs. Clé de Peau Beauté’s chief brand officer noted that this partnership with UNICEF aligns with the brand’s corporate vision for social value creation.

Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing will donate US$128 million to support local business. The Li Ka-shing Foundation announced a HK$1 billion (US$128 million) fund to support local small and medium sized businesses. The foundation said it made the donation as Hong Kong’s economy faces unprecedented challenges amidst a slowing global economy. The announcement follows recent government relief measures set forth for smaller companies impacted by the US-China trade war and the city’s protests. According to the foundation, its fund will complement these government measures. Regarding the donation Li stated, “I hope the HK$1 billion from the foundation can play a leading role. I encourage different sectors to give their opinions, work together and pool our wisdom.”

THE THINKERS

Asia must forge a new breed of partnership to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Asia’s greatest challenges today are inextricably linked to business, national growth, and political stability. Addressing these challenges therefore requires greater collaboration, according to The Rockefeller Foundation’s Director of Partnerships and Advocacy in Asia. While the region is already seeing multisector collaboration, this article argues that partnerships must go beyond simply breaking sector silos. To amplify impact, partnerships should design and invest behind solutions at the “nexus of challenges we seek to eradicate.” The article offers examples of The Rockefeller Foundation’s initiatives that aim to achieve multi-issue impact. 

Lessons from India on scaling up market-based solutions. As viable businesses that straddle the commercial and social sectors, market-based solutions (MBSs) have the potential to address poverty at scale. This Stanford Social Innovation Review article notes four common challenges investors and practitioners face and five simple questions they should ask to improve MBSs. The article also offers four recommendations for building stronger MBSs: build innovative and robust business models; invest in sizeable pilots to refine and evolve the business model; understand, address, and leverage ecosystem barrier; and attract experienced business leaders. Together, investors and practitioners can help fortify the nascent sector and build viable businesses that solve complex social problems.

THE BUSINESSES

Human rights in Southeast Asia suppliers become priority in Japan. Japanese companies are putting forth efforts to curb human rights abuses in their supply chains. Ajinomoto, Fuji Oil Holdings, and ANA Holdings are a few companies that are becoming more human rights focused. However, they face a challenge in collecting information on workers’ conditions in developing countries. Companies are therefore partnering with nonprofits to gain insight on actual working conditions. These efforts illustrate how businesses can gather information related to their operations in efforts to resolve human rights-related issues. This comes at a time of increasing recognition that sustainable corporate practices are critical for attracting consumers of the younger generation–one that places great importance on corporate ethics.

Amgen Foundation empowers students to live the life of a scientist. The corporate philanthropy arm of biopharmaceutical company Amgen aims to expose students and teachers to the world of research. The foundation’s Amgen Scholars Program recently held its first Amgen Scholars Asia Symposium in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS). The event brought together more the 60 Amgen Scholars from across Asia, senior executives from Amgen, and speakers from NUS, Kyoto University, Tsinghua University, and the University of Tokyo. The foundation’s other initiative—the Amgen Biotech Experience—has equipped 2,000 students and teachers in Singapore with research-grade lab equipment and teaching materials since its inception in 2017.

THE INNOVATORS

Asian family offices are turning to tech and sustainable investment. The Nikkei Asian Review presents key findings from UBS’ annual report on global family offices. The article highlights changing investment habits among Asia’s ultra-rich families, such as growing private equity investment in technology and real estate. These include investments in healthcare, education, eco-tourism, and shared spaces. This comes amid a period of inter-generational wealth transfer to younger family members. According to UBS, this younger generation is more inclined to invest in companies with a positive impact on the environment and society. The head of UBS’ global family office group in the Asia Pacific notes that 40% of Asian family offices are now engaged in sustainability investing.

Center of gravity of sustainable finance is swinging towards Asia. The demand for green financing is growing in Asia, and banks like Societe Generale are playing a key role. Head of debt capital markets Asia Pacific at Societe Generale, Raj Malhotra, discusses this increased interest. Addressing the region’s complex environmental challenges will require different forms of financing, and bond markets can play a big role, according to Malhotra. He notes positive trends such as the promotion of green finance in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. Corporates and banks in the region are also showing interest in other instruments such as green loans. The green and sustainability financing market in Asia is still nascent, but the region’s upward trend is a positive development in impact finance. If this trend continues, Maholtra states that Asia is poised to be at the center of gravity of green and sustainability financing.