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

28 April 2020 - 11 May 2020

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

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

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

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

Giving to Myanmar: A Guide for Asian Philanthropists

Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC)

This report provides insights into Myanmar’s social sector. It offers a toolkit for philanthropists looking to enter this unfamiliar and under-developed market. Recommendations from experienced practitioners related to the regulatory framework and cultural nuances are included. Read it here.

Social Impact Landscape in Asia

Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)

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

Read it here:

Philanthropic Foundations in Asia – Insights from Singapore, Myanmar and China

Agence Francaise de Developpment (AFD) and the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School

This report analyzes the factors driving philanthropy in three Asian countries. Asia is witnessing an emerging trend of wealthy individuals, families, and companies setting up foundations to institutionalize their giving. Drawing on case studies from Singapore, Myanmar and China, the study finds that philanthropic foundations can be characterized by their operational models, governance structures and philanthropic focus. The study further discusses the challenges faced by Asia’s nascent philanthropic sectors in addressing the developmental and structural gaps left by the public and private sectors.  Read it here.

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

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

Read it here:

The Landscape for Impact Investing in Southeast Asia

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) & Intellecap Advisory Services

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

The Landscape for Impact Investing in South Asia: Understanding the current status, trends, opportunities, and challenges in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) & Dalberg Global Development Advisors

This report analyzes the impact investing landscape in six South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Impact investing aims to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns and is a growing practice in South Asia. This report provides independent country analysis and identifies regional trends, opportunities and challenges. Read it here.

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?

16 September 2019 - 29 September 2019

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

8 July 2019 - 21 July 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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