Who’s Doing Good?

16 March 2020 - 29 March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting up funds to help combat Covid-19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting government initiatives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leveraging their own resources.

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

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

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

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

Donating through charities or donating supplies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Business not as usual” approach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

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

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

02 March 2020 - 15 March 2020

THE GIVERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

17 February 2020 - 1 March 2020

THE GIVERS

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

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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?

23 December 2019 - 5 January 2020

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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?

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?

30 September 2019 - 13 October 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

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.”