Who’s Doing Good?

10 December 2019 - 22 December 2019

THE GIVERS

UBS Optimus Foundation launches Singapore office. Swiss bank UBS has opened its Singapore office to expand its foundation’s philanthropic offerings in Asia. The new office will engage clients on philanthropic initiatives related to education, health, and child protection. The foundation also has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, and approximately 40% of its grant making is in the Asia-Pacific region. Chairman of the UBS Optimus Foundation Singapore stated, “We expect unprecedented amounts of wealth in Asia to be transferred across generations over the next 20 years. This will be a significant boost on philanthropy as many entrepreneurs are committed to using their wealth to create a legacy that has a positive social impact.”

THE THINKERS

Tatler asks CAPS Chief Executive to weigh in on the state of philanthropy in Asia. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro gives insight into new philanthropic trends in the way people, government, and companies are addressing challenges across the region. Shapiro highlights growing interest in impact investing and support for social enterprises, both of which are examined in CAPS’ newly released study, Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia. She notes two trends specific to Asia, public-private partnerships and the role of government, illustrating each with examples from across the region. She also discusses increased commitment to ESG (environment, social, and governance) goals, broadened notions of corporate social responsibility, and other ways in which private sector entities are blurring the lines between profit and purpose. 

THE BUSINESSES

100 female scholars in rural Cambodia complete inaugural Girls Learning & Leading Program.  Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido partnered with The Asia Foundation earlier this year to launch the Girls Learning & Leading Program (GLL). The program aims to empower marginalized young women by offering academic support, soft-skills development, and mentorship. Mentors include local Cambodian leaders as well as senior Shiseido staff, including Jean-Philippe Charrier, president and CEO of Shiseido Asia Pacific. With the success of the first pilot GLL program in Cambodia, Shiseido and The Asia Foundation plan to expand the program to more high schools in Cambodia in 2020, as well as other Southeast Asian countries in the longer term.

Microsoft and Humana People to People launch digital classroom project in India. Development organization Humana People to People India has joined hands with Microsoft, Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, and the Government of Chhattisgarh to introduce the Digital Learning Programme. Under its school learning component, the program aims to “enhance the learning levels of students through the strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), while simultaneously developing their critical thinking and creativity.” The adult literacy component of the program aims to “promote and enhance functional literacy among the illiterate adults of both the districts.” The program is launched under the corporate social responsibility arm of Microsoft India, and it will be rolled out in 16 schools in Raigarh and Mungeli districts of Chhattisgarh.

THE INNOVATORS

Moral Money Special Edition: Hiro Mizuno, Japan’s $1.6tn man. Financial Times’ Moral Money interviews Hiro Mizuno, chief investment officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF)—the world’s largest pension fund at US$1.6 trillion. Since his appointment in 2015, Mizuno has helped spark change by moving more largesse into domestic and global equity markets and by embracing ESG principles. In the interview, Mizuno discusses his initiatives for building a healthier investment climate. This includes the GPIF’s announcement earlier this month that it would “stop lending its global equity stocks to short sellers, arguing that it was antithetical to ESG.” 

U2’s Bono unveils blood-by-drone delivery service plan in Philippines. A day before U2 was set to perform in the Philippines, the band’s lead singer Bono announced a new drone-based blood supply delivery service for the Philippine Red Cross. This initiative for on-demand and emergency blood deliveries by drone is a partnership between the Philippine Red Cross and Zipline, an American automated logistics company, of which Bono is a board member. Through this service, health workers can place orders via text message and receive deliveries in about 30 minutes. The blood-by-drone service aims to bridge the delivery gap for millions of Filipinos living in geographically disadvantaged areas. It is expected to launch summer of 2020 with its first of three distribution centers in the Visayas.

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?

11 November 2019 - 24 November 2019

THE GIVERS

Seoul City facilitates donation procedure upon death for unaffiliated persons. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has set forth a new initiative that encourages unaffiliated individuals—citizens who have no heirs or are living in isolation from heirs—to bequeath their wealth to society. Unaffiliated individuals will receive assistance from KEB Hana Bank and the Korea Federation of Centers for Independent Living of Patriots with Disabilities to aid in this process. The Bank will be in charge of the contract and operation of the will-only trust, and the centers will be in charge of the donation system and supervision of the management subject to the donation. All individuals using self-help living centers in Seoul are eligible for support.

THE THINKERS

Shift gears and accelerate: SDGs 2030 depend heavily on India’s progress. Neera Nundy, co-founder of Dasra, highlights the need for a step increase in Indian philanthropy to realize the SDGs. India faces a US$60 billion price tag to achieve just five of the 17 development goals, and the country contributes to 20% of the global SDG gap in 10 of the 17 goals. According to Nundy, philanthropy can play a key role by prioritizing investments in the most vulnerable; focusing on outcomes; and taking an aggregated approach. While the government continues to be the largest development player for India, Nundy calls on philanthropy to be a positive disruptor by supporting fresh perspectives, testing innovations, and taking proven solutions to the government for systemic integration. 

Do mobile payment games spur green living? Alipay’s social game Ant Forest has received praise—and two United Nations awards—for scaling up public climate action. The app, which has more than 500 million users, gamifies climate action: users participate in “low-carbon action,” like walking and biking, to gain “green energy.” After feeding virtual trees with “green energy,” users can have Alipay plant a real tree or adopt a patch of protected land. As of August, Ant Forest has planted 122 million trees offsetting 7.9 million tons of carbon emissions, according to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. As other countries begin to replicate this model, this article explores its strengths and limitations as a platform for public climate action.

THE BUSINESSES

Tata Power and The Rockefeller Foundation partner for 10,000 microgrids in rural India. The Rockefeller Foundation has been working with a network of partners in India to increase access to power and energy for rural communities. Its most recent partnership with Tata Power to develop 10,000 microgrids in India will help 25 million households, especially those in rural areas, gain access to affordable electricity. The Rockefeller Foundation is also exploring opportunities to step up collaboration in the health space and to invest in India’s startup space.

Southeast Asian companies jump on impact investment bandwagon. According to the chairman of the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, Asia-focused funds accounted for half of the approximately US$14 billion raised in impact and ESG investments globally between 2016 and 2019. Asia is now also home to 10 exchanges that require listed companies to report ESG investments—more than in Europe where ESG-linked lending is more common. Asian businesses such as Olam International, the Thai Union Group, and Singapore’s state-backed investment fund, Temasek Holdings, are among those leading the charge. As Asian businesses grow conscious of their impact, a wave of new strategies is emerging. Olam International, for example, announced plans to sell business units in sugar, rubber, and wood products and use the anticipated US$1.6 billion in proceeds to establish “greener” businesses.

Honda Foundation donates motorcycles to Philippine Red Cross to boost life-saving services. The corporate social responsibility arm of the leading motorcycle manufacturer donated a total of 21 motorcycles last week to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). The Honda Foundation has committed to donating a total of 104 motorcycles to PRC offices nationwide. This commitment follows Honda’s “ONE DREAM” campaign, which aims to “make Honda products serve as tools in achieving one’s dream and to unite Filipinos through meaningful action.” The PRC, the country’s premier humanitarian organization, will use the motorcycles to bolster on-time delivery of services, particularly in emergency situations. Similarly, as featured in the last edition of Who’s Doing Good, Korean conglomerates Samsung and LG have been donating their own signature products to meet societal needs in more tangible ways.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Once beneficiaries themselves, Singaporean volunteers pass on the baton of “doing good.” The Straits Times profiles two individuals—Mr. P. Ramesh and Ms. Callie Ng—who received guidance from volunteers and are now giving back to society themselves. Mr. Ramesh grew up in a troubled neighborhood, but at 15, he met his mentor at a football intervention program for youth. He credits his mentor for teaching him important life skills and guiding him. Three years later, Mr. Ramesh volunteered at a similar initiative and, now 39, has continued his commitment to giving back ever since. Ms. Ng, 17, now volunteers at the “Light Up Children’s Initiative,” through which she met her mentor when she was in school. Ms. Ng stated that she is committed to having the same positive impact on her mentee.

THE INNOVATORS

Rabo Foundation partners with USAID Green Invest Asia to cut global carbon emissions. The partnership will pilot a carbon monitoring methodology in Indonesia, one of the world’s top five greenhouse gas-emitting economies. Results from the pilot will assist the Rabo Foundation in shaping climate mitigation policies for loans it offers to cooperatives and to small- and medium-sized businesses. The Rabo Foundation’s portfolio of such investments spans 22 economies across the globe, including seven in Asia. The USAID Green Invest Asia platform, which was launched in 2018, is mobilizing investments worth US$400 million to reduce global carbon emissions by 20 million metric tonnes. The platform supports companies sourcing sustainably and connects companies to funders investing in sustainable agriculture businesses in Southeast Asia. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

India’s federal police raid local Amnesty International offices. Reuters reports that according to the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s federal investigative agency raided the Bengaluru and New Delhi offices of Amnesty International earlier this month. The federal agency explained the raid as a probe into alleged violations of foreign funding rules. It noted that the Indian offices had received contributions from Amnesty International UK, despite government restrictions under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010. Amnesty has issued a statement questioning the motivation behind these raids.

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?

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?

19 August 2019 - 1 September 2019

THE GIVERS

Bangladesh set to receive US$22.7 million from UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched its Refugee Zakat Fund as a new structure of its zakat program that was founded in 2016. The fund has already surpassed its US$26 million target for 2019, raising just over US$38 million in the first half of the year. Most of this came from donors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, and Egypt. The fund has already disbursed over half a million dollars to benefit 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, which is set to receive a total of US$22.7 million. The UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific noted that Islamic philanthropy has yet to realize its full potential within the global humanitarian sector and underscored the important role zakat can play.

Simon and Eleanor Kwok donate HK$5.2 million to injured jockey Tye Angland. According to Hong Kong Tatler, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent horse racing aficionados, the Kwok family, recently announced a HK$5.2 million (approximately US$700,000) donation to jockey Tye Angland. After a jockeying accident in Hong Kong last November, the Australian suffered career-ending spinal injuries which left him a quadriplegic. In an interview with Sky Sports Radio, Angland responded to the donation with gratitude, noting that it will be going into three different trusts for his children’s education and life expenses. The former jockey has been overwhelmed with support from the racing community and hopes to be a role model for others living with disabilities.

THE THINKERS

Levelling up: shattering myths about philanthropy in Asia. Asia is home to more billionaires now than any other region, and this article explores the intricacies of giving among Asia’s fastest-growing economies. CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro weighs in, noting the difficulties of gathering data in this space as most giving is done through companies and often without proclamation. The article discusses the findings of CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, including the trust deficit in the social sector and the important role governments can play. As the region witnesses growing inequality, governments are increasingly looking to private players for support. With more wealth than ever before, Shapiro concludes that Asia has enormous potential to be a world leader in philanthropy.

THE BUSINESSES

The Philippines’ Aboitiz Group supports young robotics enthusiasts. The Aboitiz Group has long supported STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the Philippines, and it recently reinforced its commitment through the launch of the ‘Kabataan Inyovator: An Aboitiz Robotics Competition.’ The competition aims to encourage innovation in solving community problems through robotics. Together with Davao Light and Power Company, the Aboitiz Foundation led the competition launch on August 12 in Davao City. Pinoy Robot Games offered training sessions on robot programming, and project ideation and evaluation, for 20 Davao City public elementary and high school teams. The winning team will have its prototype deployed in its host community, and represent the Philippines in the World Robot Olympiad in Canada.  

Macronix donates NT$420 million to National Cheng Kung University to build Macronix Innovation Center. Macronix International, a global manufacturer of integrated non-volatile memory components headquartered in Taiwan, has made a generous donation to Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). The NT$420 million donation (approximately US$13.5 million) will be used to build the Macronix Innovation Center, a historic new space on campus that will leverage the talent of Macronix and NCKU collaboratively. Miin Wu, the founder and chief executive officer of Macronix is an alumnus of the university, where he studied electrical engineering. Macronix hopes the new creative space will foster new talent as well as demonstrate the company’s dedication to corporate social responsibility. The Macronix Innovation Center adds to NUCK’s nine existing schools by housing the School of Computing, modeled after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) College of Computing.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer-based emergency response system offers solution to road traffic accidents in Bangladesh. Featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, TraumaLink’s pragmatic model shines a spotlight on volunteer-based emergency response systems. In Bangladesh, road traffic injuries (RTIs) are the leading cause of death and disability, with nearly 25,000 road traffic deaths in 2016 according to the World Health Organization. In 2013, TraumaLink co-founders Jon Moussally, an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Mridul Chowdhury, CEO of mPower Social Enterprises, introduced a volunteer-based solution. TraumaLink enlists local volunteers, who live or work along the highway, to provide more immediate first aid to RTI victims. As of mid-2019, almost 2,000 patients have been treated by nearly 500 TraumaLink volunteers.

THE INNOVATORS

Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya to issue first private-sector gender bonds in Asia-Pacific. The IFC (International Finance Corporation) and DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft) have agreed to subscribe to the first private-sector gender bonds in Asia, set to be issued in the amount of up to US$220 million by Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya. These gender bonds are supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, a join initiative of the IFC and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative. Together they aim to increase access to finance for as many as 100,000 women in emerging markets. This inaugural gender bond issuance will help expand credit lines to women-led small- and medium-sized enterprises in Thailand, as well as promote the transparency and integrity of Asia’s nascent social bond market. The Bank of Ayudhya is expected to issue the bonds this October. 

Japan’s MUFG Bank joins ESG wave with new unit. Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) will set up a department specializing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funding to develop financial products for companies focused on responsible investing. This sustainable business office will encourage customers to work on ESG issues and provide financing to companies based on ESG ratings and benchmarks. With an aim to improve its ESG performance groupwide, MUFG Bank has already taken concrete steps itself, such as sourcing all power for its Tokyo headquarters from hydroelectric sources. Further, by signing on to the Principle for Responsible Banking which will be launched by the United Nations this month, MUFG Bank will also set publicly disclosed environmental and social impact goals.

Who’s Doing Good?

5 August 2019 - 18 August 2019

THE GIVERS

Li Ka-shing donates HK$500 million (approximately US$64 million) to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Hong Kong’s richest man and notable philanthropist Li Ka-shing is helping establish the city’s first synthetic biology institute through his most recent donation. Synthetic biology is a cross-disciplinary area of research in which genomes are designed and modified to help resolve challenges in life sciences. Advances in the field can impact key areas of human development such as manufacturing, medicine development, and food production. The need for innovations in such areas is urgent: current and future increases in global population are straining resources and necessitate the development of alternatives. Speaking on the occasion, Li underscored the vision behind his gift, “Just as synthetic chemistry and petroleum was central to the 20th Century, synthetic biology and DNA are the technology engines of this century, bringing disruption to traditional manufacturing and new opportunities in the industrialization of biology.”

Mano Amiga Philippines and She Talks Asia co-founder, Lynn Pinugu, discusses why she gives back to society. Lynn Pinugu traces the roots of her philanthropy to a financial crisis her family went through when she was in university. Her writing skills helped her win a journalism competition, which awarded her with a scholarship that supported her studies. She realized that children who lacked basic education would struggle to access such opportunities. After graduating, Pinugu volunteered in Mexico where she came across Mano Amiga, a network of low-cost schools transforming the lives of underprivileged students. She replicated their model in the Philippines in 2008, impacting over seven hundred lives since. Pinugu further expanded her work and founded She Talks Asia to support women in her country who are confined by traditional gender roles. Through She Talks Asia, Pinugu is offering them a safe space to discuss these issues. She concludes that humility and an eagerness to learn have kept her motivated in this journey.

THE THINKERS

Singapore falls quite behind Malaysia in responsible investing, according to Blooomberg. Singapore edges its regional competitor in several metrics such as efficiency and quality of life. In fact, CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018 found that Singapore is one of Asia’s three economies doing the most to catalyze private social investment—Malaysia ranked a tier below. But a new Bloomberg report finds that fewer asset managers in Singapore have incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decisions relative to their Malaysian counterparts. In fact, nearly twice as many asset managers in Malaysia have developed their own ESG scoring models as compared to Singapore. These discrepancies, according to Ben McCarron, founder of sustainable finance analysis firm Asia Research & Engagement, are attributable to Malaysia’s clear regulatory push towards responsible investing. As a global center for Islamic finance, Malaysian investors are also more familiar with the use of social factors to guide their investments. Overall, however, Asia still lags behind financial centers in Europe and the United States when it comes to responsible investing.

The Economist Intelligence Unit profiles the impact investing landscape in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa in new report. Commissioned by Standard Chartered Private Bank, the report aims to create knowledge for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on sustainable finance and its intersection with philanthropy. The goal of the study is to help HNWIs decide how to allocate their portfolios to achieve the best return against their requirements. The report—based on desk research and in-depth interviews of eight experts—focuses on Asia, the Middle East, and Africa as these regions are witnessing the highest growth in either receiving or propelling sustainable finance, impact investing, and philanthropy. One of the report’s five main observations concerns definitions: there are often very subtle differences between terms such as impact investing and sustainable investing. The report recommends HNWIs to set clear parameters and objectives to navigate gray areas in the definitions.  

The path to scale is broken for nonprofits. In an opinion piece published by India Development Review, Dhananjay Rohini argues that the support ecosystem surrounding nonprofits may be failing them in their pursuit of scale. Nonprofits often find themselves solving “inherently harder” problems such as those arising out of market failures or weak institutions. Amid these challenges, nonprofits must also bear the high transactional costs of seeking funding for one project at a time. The successful delivery of projects may improve the chances of future funding, but “donor fatigue” could still be an impediment. This situation is quite contrary to the private sector where multiple mechanisms exist for raising funding and where unremarkable but stable companies often succeed in attracting funding. Among the strategies Rohini lays down to alleviate some of these failings are: donors paying the entire costs of programs, and funding large-scale initiatives instead of individual projects. Non-pecuniary support in payroll management, reporting, and HR can also help nonprofits focus on the core problems they seek to solve.   

THE NONPROFITS

Founder of nonprofit helping trafficking victims named among 2019 Class of Asia 21 Young Leaders by Asia Society. Ta Ngoc Van is the chief lawyer at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit based in Hanoi which rescues Vietnamese women and girls who fall victim to human trafficking. Van is credited with helping 800 trafficking victims and has provided legal representation to nearly a hundred. Human trafficking affects over 40 million women, children, and men and according to the International Labour Organization, citizens of the Asia Pacific region are twice as likely to be at risk as those of a developed country. The Ministry of Public Security in Vietnam reports that about 80% of human trafficking victims end up in China. According to the article, this is in part due to the country’s gender imbalance, which is seen to exacerbate the issue. Van’s fellow honorees are playing their part in alleviating the region’s challenges through journalism, policy advocacy, and technology among others.  

THE BUSINESSES

KKR’s Global Impact Fund exceeds US$1 billion fundraising goal. The global investment firm, which manages assets worth US$148 billion, announced the Global Impact Fund as its first impact-focused fund in 2018. This new fund employs UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide investment decisions. The actual “investment playbook,” concerning the type, duration, and commitment to value-add, however, remains the same. The Global Impact Fund joins the likes of TPG’s US$2 billion Rise Fund, the world’s largest impact investing pool, and similar funds from Bain Capital and Partners Group. Co-head of KKR Global Impact, Ken Mehlman, states that the fund will allow KKR to access investment opportunities that previously had to be let go due to their size; the new fund will prioritize deals worth US$100 million or below. The fund has already deployed two investments: US$32.4 million in Singapore-based energy-saving company Barghest Building Performance, and about US$510 million in Indian environmental management company, Ramky Enviro Engineers. The latter investment is understood to have been funded in part from the Global Impact Fund and KKR’s 2017 Asian Fund III worth US$9.3 billion.

THE INNOVATORS

Korea’s SK Group developing blockchain donation platform. The donation platform will enable direct, low-cost, and peer-to-peer foreign currency donations that will be settled immediately without requiring any input from external or intermediary institutions. Cross-border money transfers are subject to various fees if sent through traditional intermediaries, and blockchain technology has emerged as a promising solution to the problem. This application of the technology, however, is yet to achieve mainstream approval despite its merits. While no firm deadline has been quoted for the project, SK Group has committed that the platform will be open sourced. Interested developers will be able to replicate the platform and alter parameters such as transaction terms. Donations on the platform will be settled in Korean won through the Social Value Coin (SVC), which will be pegged to the won in a 1:1 ratio. Another token, Social Value Power (SVP), will be distributed as reward to donors at the ratio 1:1000 SVCs (or Korean won).

Who’s Doing Good?

8 July 2019 - 21 July 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

24 June 2019 - 7 July 2019

THE GIVERS

Alibaba to contribute US$145 million donation to women’s football. The Chinese women’s national football team will receive ¥1 billion (US$145 million) in donations from Chinese online giant Alibaba. Alipay, the mobile payment platform of Alibaba, will fund the bulk of the initiative. Additional contributions will come from the respective foundations of Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. The donation will be deployed over the coming decade towards injury prevention and treatment, career development of retired players, technical development, coach education, and youth development. According to this Channel News Asia article, the three parties aim to make football “more sustainable and accessible to girls and women across the nation.” Despite underfunding, the Chinese women’s national team has qualified for seven of the eight Women’s World Cups, including this year’s Cup in France. 

East Asia’s young rich redefine the concept of family legacy. A recent report, Passing the Torch: Bridging mindset gaps between high-net-worth generations in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore, highlights a shift in family business and philanthropy. The study, which was conducted by HSBC and commissioned by The Economist, reveals that high-net-worth individuals are giving their heirs flexibility in taking the family business in a new direction. Increasingly, the younger generation is redefining their family legacies through establishing charitable foundations or engaging in new CSR initiatives under the umbrella of their family business. At the intersection of new wealth and new ideas, the younger generation is redefining family legacy as they strive to create long-term social or environmental impact at the helm of their family business.

THE THINKERS

Muhammad Yunus underscores the power of social enterprises run by women and young people. Ahead of a social business event in Thailand, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus talks about the impact of social enterprises, especially those run by women and young people. In conversation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he highlighted, “Women and young people perhaps understand these problems better because they are most affected by them.” As social entrepreneurship burgeons across the region, some Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have passed legislation or revised laws to support social business ventures. To aid these developments, Yunus highlights the importance of adapting educational institutions and financial systems to encourage entrepreneurship and social business.

Philanthropy is still the backbone of social action. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro’s letter in the Financial Times gives insight into the relationship between philanthropy and impact investing. In a recent study, CAPS found that 59 percent and 66 percent of social enterprises in Hong Kong and Japan respectively report receiving philanthropic or government grants. In fact, many social enterprises in Asia depend on philanthropy and government grants as angel investment. Shapiro’s letter is a prelude to CAPS’ upcoming report on effective social enterprise ecosystems in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand, set to be published this fall.

THE BUSINESSES

Prudence Foundation and AVPN announce winners of inaugural Disaster Tech Innovation Competition. Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, and AVPN launched the Disaster Tech Innovation Competition earlier this year. The competition aims to “leverage technology solutions for disaster prevention and recovery efforts in the region.” The finalists, comprised of both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations, covered markets including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Taiwan. FieldSight, a mobile platform that supports disaster reconstruction activities, won First Prize. According to FieldSight director Justin Henceroth, the mobile platform was first launched in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes and has since been implemented at 60,000 sites in 16 markets. The organization received a grant of US$100,000 to help fund the implementation and scaling up of its Disaster Tech solution.

Development impact bond (DIB) boosts education in India. The Quality Education India DIB was launched in September 2018 by the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and Tata Trusts, together with local partners. As the largest development impact bond in the area to date, the bond funds initiatives towards improving literacy and numeracy skills for more than 300,000 children in India. According to a recent evaluation, “40 percent of participating schools met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy outcomes compared with non-participating schools.” The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation country director for India highlighted, “The early signs are that outcome-based funding models, with an incentive attached, have the potential to drive quality in education and attract new forms of capital to sustain it.”

Japan’s Suntory joins rival Coca-Cola to encourage plastic recycling in Vietnam. Reuters reports on a new alliance between Suntory, Coca-Cola, and Nestle–the latest in partnerships among global plastics and consumer goods companies. The Japanese beverage giant, Suntory Holdings, plans to switch out pure petroleum-based plastic bottles for bottles made from recycled or plant-based materials by 2030. However, achieving this goal will be challenging due to a lack of sophisticated recycling systems in Suntory’s Southeast Asian markets, such as Vietnam. The alliance, which also includes the local operations of Tetra Pak and NutiFood, will call on the Vietnamese government to, “plan a system spanning collection and facilities for recycling.” This push comes at a time when Vietnam is among the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean. Earlier this month Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that he wants Vietnam to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, but companies are pushing for large-scale recycling systems in addition to government restrictions on plastic bottles.

THE INNOVATORS

Sustainable investments make up nearly a fifth of rich Asian investors’ portfolios. According to a survey by Standard Chartered Private Bank, high-net-worth (HNW) investors in Asia have increased their allocation to sustainable investments to almost a fifth of their portfolios. The survey covered 416 HNW individuals residing in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India with a minimum of US$1 million in investments. Chinese investors are leading as the survey found “a majority of [Chinese] respondents have already allocated between a quarter to half of their funds to sustainable investments.” The study also revealed that in Asia knowledge of sustainable investing among investors has improved by 20 percent from 2018. The top cited motivation among the HNW investors was to “create a better future,” followed by “doing good while earning a profit.” The growing interest and awareness of sustainable investing among HNW investors is an encouraging trend for the region.

Impact investing in Asia to gain as US$15 trillion set to change hands among world’s wealthiest families. Impact investing in Asia has an opportunity to gain from the US$15.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected to occur over the next decade, according to global wealth researcher Wealth-X. While only US$1.88 trillion of this total is expected to be transferred in Asia, the transfer of wealth will occur amidst a growing ESG sector and growing interest in impact investing. With the younger generation soon to be at the helm of their families’ wealth, this intergenerational transfer is a fruitful opportunity for impact investing to grow. Wealth-X additionally notes that the US$8.8 trillion expected to change hands in Europe and North America bodes well for Asia. Due to friendlier regulatory environments, wealthy investors are increasingly setting up family office branches in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Who’s Doing Good?

8 April 2019 - 14 April 2019

THE GIVERS

GS Group makes US$400,000 donation to help victims of recent Gangwon wildfire. In line with the GS Group chairman’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, GS Group affiliates have been engaging in various partnerships to address social needs. Last year, GS Retail signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to annually donate relief supplies worth ₩50 million (approximately US$40,000) and to transform GS25 convenience stores into emergency shelters during natural disasters. GS Retail quickly responded to the Gangwon wildfire that broke out earlier this month, teaming up with other relief organizations to provide emergency supplies to those who suffered from the wildfire. GS Group made an additional contribution to relief efforts with a ₩500 million (US$400,000) donation to Community Chest of Korea, the country’s largest welfare institution, to support the victims.

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun to give nearly US$1 billion to charity. The founder and CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, is receiving a bonus of more than 636.6 million shares for his eight years of contributions to the company. The Chinese smartphone maker went public in Hong Kong in 2018, and based on the stock’s current price, Lei Jun’s shares amount to approximately US$961 million. Last Wednesday, Xiaomi stated in a regulatory filing that Lei Jun promised to donate all the shares to charitable purposes. This comes weeks after another fresh bequest of shares, worth around US$7.5 billion, was made by Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, to his philanthropic initiatives.

THE THINKERS

Indian philanthropy still faces limitations, but leaders in the field can pioneer change. Education programs continue to receive the majority of philanthropic funding in India, and some analysts have suggested that too much philanthropic funding has been going to the education sector to the exclusion of other important social issues, such as violence against women. However, the growing philanthropic infrastructure augurs well for enhanced information about and transparency of the nonprofit sector, allowing for underrepresented nonprofits to access more partnerships and opportunities. Leaders in the field, including academic centers such as The Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University and prominent foundations such as the Azim Premji Foundation, are positioned to drive the discourse on more inclusive and impactful philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Social impact app, TangoTab, launches at Singapore’s first food bank community event.  Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Andre Angel, TangoTab is an app designed to serve the food-insecure, and it has donated over three million meals to partners in the United States. TangoTab has partnered with The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG), a registered charity that coordinates food donations with its network of over 300 nonprofits. The app was launched last week at Singapore’s first food bank community event, which fed 1,000 people. Every time a diner checks in to a partner establishment on the app TangoTab will make a donation to FBSG to feed a person in need. As studies show that seven in ten Singaporeans dine out for dinner and one in ten go to bed hungry every night, TangoTab will help the city take a step forward in assisting the food-insecure through its meal-for-a-meal platform.

THE BUSINESSES

Hilton Hotels Malaysia gives back to society. In a recent interview, the regional general manager of Hilton Hotels Malaysia, Jamie Mead, shared details of the group’s CSR initiatives that focus on education, youth development, and going green. Mead also highlighted the focus on functional CSR such as the hygienic recycling system implemented to avoid wasting the thousands of soaps that are thrown away every day. Of the ongoing CSR initiatives, Mead highlights the partnership with SK La Salle 2, Jinjang, to be especially meaningful to him as the close-knit relationships between the children studying at the school and the Hilton Hotels Malaysia volunteers greatly inspired him to continue giving back.

Tata Power trains farmers on sustainable agriculture. Exhibiting its commitment to the social development of local communities, Tata Power, India’s largest power generation company, recently trained over 950 farmers in 42 villages on sustainable farm practices. Under the Sustainable Agriculture Programme, landholding farmers were taught the best agricultural practices for staple crops, vegetables, and cash crops. The program also trained landless farmers to cultivate vegetables in their courtyards through a vertical farming program, helping tribal farmers in remote areas both raise their income and lead a healthier lifestyle with increased access to fresh vegetables.

Tata Trusts and Microsoft partner to empower handloom weaving communities. In an effort to rejuvenate handloom communities in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India, Tata Trusts and Microsoft will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education, and digital literacy to handloom weavers. The training will be delivered through Microsoft’s Project Sangam, a cloud solution for large-scale training programs with adaptive streaming and offline-mode learning, which empower communities to learn anytime and anywhere. In partnership with Tata Trusts, Microsoft aims to expand the program to the grassroots level and help weaving communities build a sustainable future. The chief program director of Tata Trusts stated, “Through this initiative, we want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”

THE INNOVATORS

BPI Foundation searches for promising social enterprises in the Philippines. The social innovation arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Foundation, has announced the launch of BPI Sinag Year 5. To widen the scope of its competition this year, BPI Sinag will hold roadshows in Davao, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Laguna. At each stop, social entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present a seven-minute business pitch, and the top 40 most promising social enterprises will win an opportunity to participate in a boot camp that will include training on business strategy, marketing, operations, finance, organization, and human resources development. Ten social enterprises with the most promising business viability and social impact will be named as awardees of BPI Sinag, with the top one to five receiving PHP 500,000 (approximately US$10,000) and the top six to ten receiving PHP 100,000 (approximately US$2,000) in grants.

Asia Pacific region found to be the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. A global survey by BNP Paribas of 347 institutional investors who have US$23 trillion in assets under management found that despite lagging behind other regions on sustainable investing, the Asia Pacific region is the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. While the survey showed that Asia Pacific institutional investors only allocated 15% of funds to ESG investment, falling short of the 18% global level, over half of Asia Pacific investors stated that they would allocate up to 75% of their funds towards ESG by 2021. As green investment gains traction, the region is also set to see new job opportunities emerge as around 50% of Asia Pacific institutional investors plan to hire external ESG specialists, while only 34% of global counterparts expect to do the same.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Youth volunteers in Bangladesh lead the way on climate action. Bangladeshi State Minister of Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, recently participated in an interactive roundtable, “Youth 2030: Working with and for Young People,” organized by the United Nations in New York. At the event last Tuesday, the state minister commended the nation’s young volunteers, stating, “The youth, especially the volunteers, have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s efforts on disaster risk reduction in early warning of the cyclone and emergency evacuation, effectively reducing deaths and injuries from natural disasters.” The state minister also highlighted the leading role of youth in not only volunteering efforts, but also in taking charge of on-the-ground climate action and social media campaigns against climate change.