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?

2 September 2019 - 15 September 2019

THE GIVERS

US$442 million donated via online platforms in China in 2018. According to a recent report by China Philanthropy Research Institute, Chinese donations to online charity platforms increased nearly 27 percent in 2018 to more than ¥3.17 billion (approximately US$442 million). A total of 20 online platforms attracted donations from 8.46 billion internet users. The report also notes a 34.5 percent increase in the number of registered charitable organizations in China putting the total at 5,620. Guangdong ranks first in the country with 748 charitable organizations, followed by Beijing and Zhejiang.

Donations to earthquake-hit towns in Japan rose sharply in 2018. Through the Japanese government’s furusato nozei (hometown tax donation) system, taxpayers can contribute to their hometowns or other municipalities in return for tax cuts. The Japan Times reports that donations to three earthquake-hit towns in Hokkaido have risen sharply, most notably to Atsuma where they grew 5.4 times from the previous year to over ¥1 billion (approximately US$9 million). The Atsuma Municipal Government intends to channel donations towards reconstruction efforts, among others.

THE NONPROFITS

BRAC, one of the world’s largest charities, charts new path. Founded in 1972, BRAC has grown into one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGO) with 100,000 full-time staff. According to the The Economist, BRAC lent money to almost 8 million people and educated more than 1 million children across Bangladesh and ten other countries in 2018 alone. NGO Advisor has ranked BRAC as the world’s best charity for the past four years.  However, there are challenges ahead. As Bangladesh’s annual GDP continues to grow and government spending on public services continues to increase, large charities are having to think about where else they can contribute. In response, BRAC is venturing into new directions and shifting to income-generating activities to subsidize its philanthropic activities. The Economist notes that, by charting this new path, BRAC can serve as a model for other charities to follow.  

THE BUSINESSES

Japanese companies lead world in disclosing climate risks. According to the Financial Times, more than 60 Japanese companies threw their support behind the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in May, surpassing companies in the US and the UK. Nearly 200 Japanese companies back TCFD measures now. This has been applauded by investors and lenders as a valuable opportunity for obtaining consistent information about companies’ climate risks. The country has also seen a sharp increase in ESG investing. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance reported that Japan’s ESG investing assets quadrupled from US$474 billion to US$2 trillion from 2016-18. 

China’s Xiamen Airlines vows to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At a recent industry expo, Chairman of Xiamen Airlines (XiamenAir) Zhao Dong confirmed the airline’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2017 XiamenAir was the first airline to sign a cooperation agreement with the United Nations  to formally support the SDGs. Since then the airline has adopted a range of measures including providing passengers with sustainable tissues and bamboo cups, and offering digital news services instead of printed newspapers. According to Zhao, XiamenAir has also achieved a 14.8 percent drop in fuel consumption per ton-kilometer, exceeding the global average of fuel efficiency improvement. At the event, the airline committed to continuing its support for sustainable development in the aviation industry. 

Global Reporting Initiative Regional Hub officially opens in Singapore. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that helps businesses, governments, and other organizations understand and communicate their sustainability standards. The organization officially launched its GRI Regional Hub in Singapore earlier this month, adding to six other hubs around the world. The Singapore hub will support ASEAN companies by helping them “identify, manage, and report their most material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts.” The Hub will be headed by Michele Lemmens, a business executive from Tata Consultancy Services.

THE VOLUNTEERS

With the help of 12,000 volunteers, No Food Waste redistributes surplus food to the needy in India. The food-recovery startup, No Food Waste (NFW), was founded in 2014 to redistribute surplus food to the needy in Tamil Nadu. With the support of a network of 12,000 volunteers, NFW now serves an average of 900 people per day. The organization collects surplus food from banquets at social functions, corporate canteens, and hotels. After being notified of a food pick-up, a city-specific NFW coordinator gets their team of volunteers together to collect and distribute the food. Recently, the startup has been working to incorporate more sustainable measures by banning single-use disposable containers and shifting to serving food on plantain leaves. The food-recovery startup has received a number of awards recognizing its work.

THE INNOVATORS

Singapore-based IIX and Korean government agency commit US$1.2 million to accelerate high-impact enterprises in Asia. Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), a global organization that provides funding and support to social enterprises, has announced a new partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). IIX and KOICA will jointly contribute US$1.2 million over five years to support 18 social enterprises across South and Southeast Asia. Through its Acceleration and Customized Technical Services (ACTS) program, IIX will select the social enterprises and offer them capacity building and technical assistance to ensure they are investment-ready. The enterprises will also gain access to mentors and over 1,000 accredited investors from around the world. This joint initiative aims to impact the lives of 8 million people.

UNDP and 500 Startups launch accelerator for social enterprises in Indonesia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and 500 Startups have launched ImpactAim Indonesia, a social accelerator that aims to boost social entrepreneurship in the country. The accelerator will support eight to ten startups that are serving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a 10-week program in Jakarta. These startups will receive guidance on impact measurement and gain access to prospective impact investors from around the world. According to the article, ImpactAim hopes to amplify social impact through three main objectives: “growing impact ventures, assessing their contribution to the SDGs, and connecting them to networks and funding opportunities.”

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?

27 May 2019 - 9 June 2019

THE GIVERS

Donations by Chinese philanthropists up by 50 percent in 2018. According to the China Philanthropy List, released annually by the China Philanthropy Times, the volume of donations by Chinese philanthropists and enterprises hit a record high of ¥27.63 billion (approximately US$4 billion) in 2018. China Daily reported that this is a 50 percent increase from the previous year. Donations were made by 744 philanthropic enterprises and 274 philanthropists, with donations from individual philanthropists totaling ¥9.53 billion (approximately US$1.4 billion). Although the majority of charitable giving in China comes from private corporations, the country’s philanthropy boom has encouraged more wealthy donors to participate. The recent increase in charitable giving by individual philanthropists has also been highlighted in the Hurun Report’s Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019.

Disney in India makes donation to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. Disney in India has donated ₹20 million (approximately US$300,000) to aid Cyclone Fani relief efforts. The money will be donated to Save the Children in India to support disaster response and provide resources for affected communities in the Indian state of Odisha. A Disney India representative said this donation will support families affected by Cyclone Fani by providing them with critical shelter. The country manager of Disney and Star India Sanjay Gupta stated, “Our hearts go out to those affected by this severe cyclonic storm Fani. The families and communities impacted by this devastating calamity need our support as they begin to rebuild.” Disney and Star India had also supported disaster response efforts in August 2018, aiding those affected by the Kerala floods.

THE THINKERS

Philanthropy in Singapore goes mainstream. Singapore is one of the top givers among its regional counterparts, and The Business Times article highlights the transformation of the country’s philanthropy landscape over the past few years. Citing CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2018, the article underscores Singapore’s position in the “Doing Well” cluster, leading in the index alongside Japan and Taiwan. Singapore’s favorable tax deduction policies and relatively simple registration process are among several factors which have helped boost the country’s performance in the index. But in the face of persistent social and environmental challenges, philanthropy needs to take a more solutions-focused approach to giving. While the upward trend is promising, philanthropy in Singapore still has room to improve.

Harvard course helps next-generation philanthropists do good. A course titled, “Impact Investing for the Next Generation,” convenes heirs to some of the world’s greatest family fortunes. The course, run jointly by Harvard and the University of Zurich in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, has been equipping next-generation philanthropists to be more impactful since 2015. For some of Asia’s wealthiest millennials, inculcating a culture of impact investing is a formidable challenge. Despite holding one-third of global wealth, Asia only contributes a small portion of its total wealth to impact investing. However, notable alumni, such as Hyundai heir Kyungsun Chung who co-founded Root Impact, have worked to promote a culture of impact investing in Asia since taking the course.

THE NONPROFITS

Myanmar nonprofit to give 10,000 bikes to students in need. Following the collapse of bike-sharing companies ofo and oBike in Singapore and Malaysia, many bikes have been left unused in scrapyards or warehouses. Lesswalk, a Myanmar nonprofit, bought 10,000 bikes from the failed bike-sharing companies to give to students in need. The total cost of buying, shipping, and refurbishing the bikes is between US$350,000 and US$400,000, but half is expected to be paid by sponsors. More than 3,000 bikes have already been shipped to Myanmar to be given to students, and the rest is expected to arrive by the end of June. Lesswalk founder Mike Than Tun Win stated, “This movement is not about buying a new bicycle, which is actually a very straightforward process. It solves a waste problem and gets new bikes for needy children at a cheaper price.”

THE BUSINESSES

Singapore’s Temasek sets up Asia-focused private equity fund for impact investing. Temasek Holdings, a Singaporean investment company, has established ABC World Asia under its philanthropic arm Temasek Trust. Headquartered in Singapore, ABC World Asia is a private equity fund dedicated to impact investing, primarily in South Asia, South-east Asia, and China. Chief executive officer of ABC World Asia David Heng highlighted the opportunities for impact investing in Asia, where the industry is still nascent. Heng stated, “The complex social and environmental challenges in our region present the potential for investors to achieve substantial impact.” The new impact investment fund will allow Temasek Trust to move beyond traditional grant-making to fulfill its mission of “ensuring sustainable funding for the long-term well-being and security of communities.”

Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank promotes culture of philanthropy. Korean petroleum and refinery company Hyundai Oilbank is aiming to promote a philanthropic culture among its staff. Through its 1% Nanum Foundation, more than 95 percent of the firm’s employees donate a portion or one percent of their monthly salary to charitable work. The foundation had raised about ₩11.2 billion (approximately US$9.5 million) in the last seven years to support its expanding number of charitable projects. One of the noteworthy projects, the “1% Nanum Lunch Room,” equips senior welfare centers across Korea with an annual meal plan of ₩50 million (approximately US$45,000). Other initiatives include providing heating oil for low-income families during the winter season and building schools and libraries in Vietnam and Nepal.

The Ritz-Carlton staff and guests raise funds for children with cleft conditions. International hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton raised close to US$450,000 for charities under the Smile Asia alliance. In May, over 10,000 staff and guests of The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts across Asia Pacific participated in the sales of over 14,600 cakes. The money raised will go to Smile Asia–a global alliance of independent charities working across Asia–which deploys medical volunteers to provide corrective and reconstructive surgeries for children living in remote areas. This annual fundraising initiative is part of the Smile Asia Week started by The Ritz-Carlton in 2014, and it has garnered great support over the years. In addition to this initiative, staff from the hotel chain can volunteer in medical missions across Asia Pacific.

THE INNOVATORS

China’s new model of blockchain-driven philanthropy. Stanford Social Innovation Review covers the rise of blockchain-driven philanthropy in China, and its role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the social sector. Blockchain enables donors to monitor the entire movement of their money and the platform, monitored by the public, ensures a trustworthy framework. Pioneers in blockchain-driven philanthropy in China include the charity platform of Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Love. Since adopting blockchain technology in March 2017, Ant Love has enabled 190 million Chinese individuals to donate US$50.5 million to 799 blockchain-supported projects. The decentralized, autonomous platform is breaking ground in the philanthropic sector as it encourages collaboration and employs community resources to address social challenges. While more oversight is still needed to monitor the people involved and the data that are recorded to the platform, China’s blockchain-driven philanthropy has significantly helped expand the sector’s role in Chinese society.

Indonesia leads by mainstreaming the SDGs in country’s development agenda. Indonesia’s integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policies offers lessons for the rest of Asia. The Indonesian government has showcased its commitment to the SDGs by linking them to midterm national plans, aligning national budgets and tax policies with crucial SDGs. Indonesia recently implemented two financial programs in efforts to bridge the gap in financing the SDGs: SDG Indonesia One and Islamic Finance. Employing these two finance programs will help diversify funding sources by tapping into an array of investors. Additionally, the Indonesian government also recognizes the importance of decentralizing the implementation of SDGs across all levels of government and collaborating with key stakeholders to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 April 2019 - 28 April 2019

THE GIVERS

Next-generation Asian philanthropists take an innovative approach to family foundations. Out of 146 countries and territories studied for the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2018, Hong Kong ranked 18th for charitable donations. Hong Kong family charities and foundations have long been generous givers, and the next generation is becoming more engaged and strategic in family giving. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services at HSBC Private Banking, states, “Most younger donors don’t want to be seen as a money machine. They want to bring their skills and abilities to the table.” These second- and third-generation philanthropists are moving their family foundations beyond check-writing and underscoring a larger trend of a growing formalization of philanthropy in Hong Kong.

China increasingly a nation of givers through online and mobile platforms. Chinese philanthropy has grown and evolved significantly over the past decade, exemplified by the total amount of domestic giving quadrupling from 2009 to 2017. While a total of US$3.3 billion in public donations have been made by China’s top 100 philanthropists, ordinary individuals have become vital contributors through the expansion of digital payment platforms and artificial intelligence. Through popular online and mobile payment platforms like Alipay, users have easy access to various philanthropic activities including donating second-hand items, donating blood, and planting trees. With this expansion, it is critical that online and mobile platforms improve supervising mechanisms and enhance cross-platform collaboration to strengthen, manage, and prevent crises that could damage public trust in the charitable sector.

THE THINKERS

New report highlights Asia’s growing interest and momentum in sustainable finance. Although Asia historically lags behind global counterparts in social investment, innovations are emerging throughout the region. The past decade has seen more institutional investors broaden their portfolios, governments establish social investment funds and enact supportive legislation, and corporations engage in impact investing and social enterprise mentoring. This momentum is driven by recent developments such as the growth of the green bond market, the issuance of green sukuks, and the support of ESG funds by governments across the region. While Asian businesses, governments, and investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their impact initiatives, they must collaborate to address multidimensional challenges and to catch up with more developed markets such as the United States and Europe.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong nonprofits building transitional homes to be exempted land charges. In an effort to lessen the financial burden on nonprofits and to encourage more community-initiated transitional housing projects, the Hong Kong government recently announced that charities that build transitional homes on private plots will be exempted from paying hefty land charges. According to the government statement, HK$2 billion (US$225 million) is also being set aside to support nonprofits in building transitional housing, and concessions will be given for other sites suitable for building transitional homes, such as vacant government sites and disused government premises. In Hong Kong, where the wait for public rental housing can be up to five-and-a-half years, transitional homes play a critical role in providing temporary relief for people stuck in poor living conditions.

THE BUSINESSES

Aloke and Suchitra Lohia speak with CAPS’ Chief Executive, Ruth Shapiro, on the launch of their IVL Foundation. Aloke Lohia, founder and CEO of Indorama Ventures (IVL), transformed a modest family business into a multi-billion-dollar international corporation. In addition to being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wool, yarn, and polyester, Indorama is also one of the world’s largest recyclers of plastic and leverages its global operations to promote the circular economy. In conversation with Ruth Shapiro for Hong Kong Tatler, Bangkok-based tycoons Aloke and Suchitra Lohia discuss the company’s initiatives supporting education, economic development, women’s empowerment, healthcare, and social enterprises. Through the IVL Foundation, the couple aims to further create meaningful change through strategic philanthropy that amplifies impact and spreads value throughout the company and the communities they work with.

Japan-based Kao Corporation announces new global ESG strategy. Kao Corporation, whose brand portfolio includes Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, and Molton Brown, recently announced its new global ESG strategy to promote a more sustainable way of living. The corporation’s “Kirei Lifestyle Plan” has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030. Kao aims to build upon the success of past initiatives, such as the adoption of refills and replacement packaging and the development of more compacted formulas, which together reduced the company’s plastic use in its packaging by 93,100 tons in 2018. For five years running, Kao has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

THE INNOVATORS

Jakarta-based investors weigh in on the difference between impact investors and traditional VCs. While tech-focused startups have the potential to create jobs and improve social welfare, there is debate on whether venture funds that invest in these startups should be labeled as social impact funds. There is difficulty in demarcating the boundaries of impact investors and VCs, but some practitioners encourage impact investors to differentiate themselves by justifying why they use that label, providing advice on measuring and monitoring impact, and investing where other people are not to close funding gaps. David Soukhasing, managing director at ANGIN, Tanisha Banaszczyk, investment manager at Convergence Ventures, and Melisa Irene, partner at East Ventures, weigh in on key characteristics that distinguish impact funds from their VC counterparts.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Healthcare workers, caregivers, and volunteers awarded for their work in Singapore. At the 16th Healthcare Humanity Awards organized by The Courage Fund, 83 people were recognized for their work in taking care of the sick and elderly in Singapore. One of the four categories recognizes volunteers who provide care or commit personal time to helping the nominating healthcare, social, and community care organizations. From fundraising by running ultra marathons to helping sailors with physical disabilities, the work of local volunteers was celebrated at the ceremony, and medals and cash awards were given by Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former mosque chairman jailed for siphoning SG$371,000 in donations. A former chairman of a mosque management board in Singapore was sentenced to jail for two years and three months for siphoning around SG$371,000 (approximately US$300,000) from donations over seven years. While delivering the sentence, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu highlighted that the use of the money was perhaps the most controversial aspect, as the former chairman had used some of the donations to pay off personal expenses and donated other large sums to charities for which he worked for and drew a monthly salary from. The judge underscored the detriment of any crime involving the misuse of charity funds and its consequent of public distrust in the charity sector as a whole.

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 March 2019 - 31 March 2019

THE GIVERS

Singaporean government to match donations given to registered charities. From April to March next year, donations to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), certified charities in Singapore, will be matched dollar for dollar through the new SG$200 million (approximately US$147.5 million) Bicentennial Community Fund. Each IPC will be entitled to up to SG$400,000 (approximately US$295,000), and the fund will be administered by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre with support from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. “Through the Bicentennial Community Fund, we hope to further encourage all Singaporeans to continue the philanthropic and community self-help spirit of our forefathers, 200 years on and 200 years forward,” said Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

THE THINKERS

Asian philanthropists have the potential to fuel the new model of philanthropy. As the Doing Good Index 2018 highlights, Asian philanthropists have the capacity to contribute US$500 billion in charitable giving. With recent economic growth comes the potential for a new era of charitable giving focused on seemingly intractable issues, and China is leading the way as it harnesses the highest number of millionaires engaged in environmental, social, and governance-related investing. As collaboration is strengthening with the development of consortiums and alliances, and a new generation of globally minded and mission-driven rich is taking the helm of the exponential growth in capital, Asia is positioned to fuel a new model of philanthropy that can make the biggest bets in bridging the US2.5 trillion funding gap needed to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong nonprofit helps residents with disabilities fight prejudice and break into the workforce. In Hong Kong, the poverty rate among people with disabilities in the city is more than twice the level of the general population. CareER, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping students and graduates with disabilities find jobs, is working to break down the barriers facing disabled jobseekers. After a few years working in human resources for multinational companies, Walter Tsui Yu-hang founded CareER in 2013 to help graduates with disabilities find suitable jobs instead of the low-skill work they are usually offered. CareER now has more than 450 members with disabilities and has worked with over 100 employers to create more than 200 jobs. In efforts to keep growing its impact, CarER launched a two-year career development program last week, sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which provides occupational skill training, consultation services, and leadership development.

THE BUSINESSES

Support from Alibaba Foundation empowers United Nations (UN) Women flagship programs. Two major initiatives of UN Women—Making Every Woman and Girl Count and Buy from Women—are receiving significant support from the Alibaba Foundation as part of its five-year, US$5 million commitment to UN Women. The Foundation’s contribution will help expand the Making Every Woman and Girl Count program in Asia, which seeks to bring about a radical shift in how gender statistics are used, created, and promoted at the global, regional, and country level. The Foundation’s contribution will also support the Buy From Women digital platform, which empowers women farmers in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to access new markets and services and increase production and revenues.

Cancer initiative benefits thousands of women in China. ”Make Up Your Life,” a project launched in South Korea in 2008, has provided free cancer-screenings and examinations for 54,000 women in China. Amorepacific, a South Korean cosmetics company, has invested ¥8 million over the past three years in the initiative, and according to a joint report published by China Women’s Development Foundation, free checkups for breast and cervical cancers for underprivileged women has received a positive social return on investment. Each ¥1 (US$0.15) spent in this project turned out a ¥1.52 worth of impact as the initiative effectively raised awareness of such diseases for women in remote areas where medical resources are scared. With enhanced awareness and access to screening, women can take early action for disease prevention and treatment, leading to enhanced general wellbeing of women and their families.

THE INNOVATORS

Female tech boss launches drive to empower women. Virginia Tan, co-founder of Lean in China, announced the launch of Nvying program for WeChat. Nvying is a short video platform for women to share their personal stories and communicate about their work life. The application is designed based on the needs of young women in China. “We wanted to do this because I think the market lacks quality content—there is a lot of entertainment and gossip, but we wanted to set a professional standard to answer some of the questions,” Tan said. According to Tan, the program will start with female users of the messaging platform, but later grow to include men as well.

China’s first charity store steps into 11th year in style. Chinese nonprofit, Roundabout, works to promote the eco-conscious lifestyle of the 3Rs—reduce, reuse, and recycle—with its free pick-up service over Beijing. In addition to this, the company opened China’s first charity distribution store to raise funds for vulnerable social groups (orphans, children with critical sicknesses or physical challenges, women, elderly, and earthquake victims) and to connect those who want help those in need. “We hope to create a charming place where people feel good and have a pleasant experience when they step inside—whether to buy a gift for a loved one or to find something they need—so they would like to come back,” said Charlotte Beckett, the charity’s volunteer director.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Two Cathay Pacific pilots raise money to buy rice for charity Feeding Hong Kong. Through a crowdfunding campaign, two Australian pilots, Glen Clarke, and Matthew Brockman, raised HK$10,000 (US$1,270) to buy rice for Feeding Hong Kong, a local charity that rescues edible food from producers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers and redistributes it to other charities. Both Clarke and Brockman moved to Hong Kong four years ago, and after fundraising money for Australian foundations, they decided to give back to a Hong Kong charity this year. Clarke and Brockman were inspired to raise money to buy rice for Feeding Hong Kong after spending time at the charity’s warehouse in Yau Tong and noticing a lack of rice among the non-perishable food donations. While their campaign for Feeding Hong Kong extends till June, the duo is already brainstorming more ways to give back to the Hong Kong community.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Man held for forging charity commissioner’s signatures. The detection of crime branch in India has arrested a man for forging signatures and stamp of the charity commissioner and preparing bogus documents related to land in Bil village on the Vadodara city’s outskirts. In the process of selling a piece of land he did not actually own, the accused claimed that the land belonged to a temple trust and that he had bought it from them, producing bogus documents with the charity commissioner’s forged signatures and stamp.

Charity laws being enacted in all provinces across Pakistan. With the visiting delegation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the country on Wednesday, various Pakistani government officials briefed the FATF on steps taken by Pakistan to curb money-laundering. The officials of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) were also present on the occasion, briefing the FATF regarding laws on model charities and that laws on charities were being devised in all provinces.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 March 2019 - 24 March 2019

THE GIVERS

Bill Gates lauds Azim Premji for commitment to philanthropy. This past weekend, Bill Gates took to Twitter to acknowledge Wipro chairman Azim Premji and his most recent bequest of 34% of Wipro’s shares, worth about US$7.5 billion, to the Azim Premji Foundation. With this new charitable contribution, Premji has now donated a total of US$21 billion over the past several years to his philanthropic initiatives, making him one of the world’s top philanthropists. Since 2014, the Azim Premji Foundation has supported over 150 organizations engaged in improving the lives of disadvantaged, under-served, and marginalized communities in India. Gates tweeted, “I’m inspired by Azim Premji’s continued commitment to philanthropy. His latest contribution will make a tremendous impact.”

China’s new billionaire class gives rise to philanthropy boom. The 2019 report from the China Philanthropy program at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation highlights driving forces that have fueled China’s philanthropy boom, including the country’s recent economic growth and laws and regulations that gradually legitimized and incentivized private giving. While the largest percentage of Chinese donors comes from the real estate sector, the report also highlights prominent Chinese philanthropists, including China’s richest man, Jack Ma, who recently announced he was retiring from his company to focus on education philanthropy. Beyond the givers, China’s maturing philanthropy scene has also spurred the growth of new philanthropic infrastructure, buttressed by intermediary organizations that gather data, facilitate peer learning, and train donors to be more strategic in their giving.

THE THINKERS

Southeast Asian business leaders must step up and invest in development efforts. While economists forecast Indonesia to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050, the country still faces development and public health challenges, such as a high burden of tuberculosis. Dato’ Sri Dr. Tahir, chairman of Mayapada Group and founder of the Tahir Foundation, calls on private sector leaders to recognize their critical role in public health and development in emerging economies in Southeast Asia. While the efforts of a partnership between the Tahir Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and government public health services have helped Indonesia achieve a 44% decrease in TB mortality rates and 14% decrease in TB incidence rates from 2000 to 2017, the private sector can propel these efforts with financial support to expand access for all Indonesians to benefit from these resources and services.

Program trains rural women in India to raise healthier goats and gain financial independence. Extensive research shows that when women have control over finances, they are more likely to spend it in ways that improve the quality of life for their family. In rural India, goat rearing is an important source of income, managed almost exclusively by women, and the money from which is kept in their hands. Project Mesha, which is run by the Aga Khan Foundation and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, trains more than 200 women to be “pashu sakhis” in four communities in Bihar – one of the poorest states in India and home to one of the country’s largest population of goats. By learning how to vaccinate, deworm, and provide other preventative care to goats in their community, women can increase their income by charging small fees for their veterinary services, promoting goat care in their communities, and reducing the loss of income due to the high mortality rate of goats. Through working with local women’s groups, the program aims to increase incomes for 50,000 of India’s poorest women by 30%.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong NGO Leadership Programme nurtures social service network for the future. The nine-month NGO leadership program is a tripartite collaboration between The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Work, UBS, and Operation Santa Claus, one of the largest charitable donation drives in Hong Kong. The program aims to encourage more volunteering, nurture leaders in the social sector, and build a lasting network that will help with collaborative problem solving of social challenges in the future. The winning participant of each year’s program becomes a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus, and past winners have been granted more than US$102,000 to invest in their service. Last year’s winner was Kenneth Choi Man-kin, the general manager of social enterprise Gingko House. Since its founding in 2015, the leadership program has trained 103 participants from 87 organizations and has helped kickstart numerous social service projects.

THE BUSINESSES

Global Wholesaler METRO to join forces with One Drop Foundation to provide safe water access and sanitation in India. On World Water Day, March 22, international wholesale and food specialist METRO launched the METRO Water Initiative in partnership with the One Drop Foundation. The joint initiative will collaborate with an array of actors on the ground including local governments, civil society organizations, and microfinancing institutions to provide permanent access to sustainable and safe water and sanitation to more than a quarter of a million people in India. The initiative will focus on supporting the northern District of Sheohar, in Bihar, India where nearly half of the region lacks safe water coverage. This project highlights the importance of collaboration as emphasized by Heiko Hutmacher, Chief Human Resources Officer and Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for Sustainability, “By partnering for a common goal, we have the power to change the lives of more than a quarter of a million people for the better.”

Chairperson and CEO of Emperor Watch and Jewellery, Cindy Yeung, talks about the company’s charitable causes.  At the helm of the family business — one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious retailers — Cindy Yeung follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather by giving back to the community through charitable initiatives with the company. In a recent interview, part of Hong Kong Tatler’s ‘The Next Step’ series that highlights Hong Kong-based philanthropic women, Yeung shares about her early inspiration from her father, Dr. Albert Yeung. Galvanized by his philanthropic work of founding the Emperor Foundation and the Albert Yeung Sau Sing Charity Foundation, she spearheaded new partnerships with charities including Plan International, Chi Heng Foundation, and Project We Can. In efforts to strengthen the company’s commitment to improving the education and health conditions of underprivileged children around the world Yeung also encourages staff to actively participate in their own way.

THE INNOVATORS

How socially responsible investing can help end modern slavery. While socially responsible investing has gained momentum around the world, the practice has focused more on environmental and governance issues, partly due to extensive data and indicators within these two streams. Unlike environmental metrics that have been developed to track global warming and deforestation, social impact metrics are still amorphous and underdeveloped. In the case of modern slavery, the market lacks a standardized set of quantifiable indicators that companies can use as a reporting standard and that asset managers can base their investments on. The development of more robust metrics to track social issues like modern slavery will be pertinent in paving the way for investors to have a more tangible impact, especially in Asia and the Pacific region where 62% of the estimated 40 million victims of modern slavery live.

Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) celebrates its 10-year anniversary with inaugural art competition and exhibition. Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange, a pioneer in impact investing that focuses on empowering women, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with its inaugural She Is More Youth Art Competition. The competition, which is headed by the organization’s IIX Foundation, aims to harness the power of art to give voice to women, and it will culminate in an exhibition set to open in May. Durreen Shahnaz, founder and CEO of IIX, highlighted that the event aligns with her vision for IIX, which is to provide “a chance for us to change the narrative of women as victims, to recognize them as solution-builders; to drive women’s empowerment by building opportunities for everyone to value and give voice to women.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

Young volunteers in India are on a mission to feed the poor. Robin Hood Army, a group of more than 270 young volunteers who are largely students and young working professionals, has been collecting surplus food from hotels, restaurants, and wedding halls to feed the hungry. Modeled on the Re-Food program in Portugal, which fights hunger at no-cost, the organization began working in Delhi, India in 2014 as a zero-funds organization – operating with no revenue, office space, or employees. To ensure food is reaching the communities most in need, the Robin Hood Army volunteers conduct location surveys to gauge the need for food, collecting data on the number of family members, the number of children in each family, and the family’s source of livelihood. From last September till now, the group of volunteers has conducted 154 food drives and has fed nearly 30,000 people.

Who’s Doing Good?

11 March 2019 - 17 March 2019

THE GIVERS

Azim Premji boosts total philanthropic commitment to Rs1.45 lakh crore (US$ 21 billion). Last Wednesday, Wipro’s 73-year-old billionaire chairman announced a fresh bequest to his eponymous philanthropic initiatives. Premji stated that he will be giving 34% of his shares in Wipro, India’s fourth-largest software services exporter, to an endowment that supports the Azim Premji Foundation. This new bequest is worth about US$7.5 billion, making his endowment fund one of the five largest private endowments in the world and the largest in Asia. The India Philanthropy Report, which was released by Bain earlier this month, highlighted that India’s proportion of ultra-rich grew by 12%, and Premji’s largesse serves as a model for other ultra-high-net-worth individuals to follow and enhance their philanthropic giving.

K-pop star of the boy band BTS celebrates his birthday with US$90,000 donation. Suga, whose real name is Min Yoon-gi, celebrated his 26th birthday last Saturday with a US$90,000 donation to the Korean Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The nonprofit foundation helps fund treatment and surgery as well as provide emotional and learning support for child cancer patients. The K-pop star presented the donation, along with 329 dolls he personally designed, under the name of “ARMY,” his band’s fan club. Since debuting in 2013, the band has promoted giving back and recently expanded its worldwide anti-violence campaign in partnership with UNICEF. The band has inspired many of its loyal fans to donate to charitable organizations when it is one of its seven member’s birthday.

THE THINKERS

Research highlights public unease about doing social good and making a profit. The British Council’s latest report on social enterprises in Malaysia shows a surge in the number of social enterprises launching in the past five years; however, unfamiliarity with the concept of social entrepreneurship has stemmed the flow of capital into the growing sector. The nascent social enterprise sector, coupled with the lack of an official legal definition, has resulted in a public unease about doing social good and making a profit. While close to all of the social enterprises surveyed for the report said that they plan to grow, the flow of capital was cited as one of the biggest challenges for growth. More education on and awareness of social enterprises will be pertinent in assuaging distrust in profit-making social delivery organizations and encouraging more investment into the burgeoning sector.

Singapore’s finance minister encourages closer partnerships and more donations for building an inclusive society. The Straits Times reported last month that only an estimated five out of 100 people with disabilities are employed, and Singapore’s growing elderly population poses a greater demand for services for people at risk of age-related visual impairment. At a fundraising dinner for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat encouraged volunteers, companies, and donors to forge closer partnerships in building a more inclusive society. He also highlighted the importance of supporting organizations like SAVH to expand their services that improve the lives of the visually impaired. The government aims to also encourage more donations through its Bicentennial Community Fund, an initiative included in the 2019 Budget that will devote SG$200 million (approximately US$150 million) to the dollar-for-dollar matching of donations to registered charities in the coming financial year.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina encourages charitable work to spark social change. Last Thursday, four national celebrities were awarded the Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal for their contributions to society: politician and former Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, language movement veteran Rafiqul Islam, and painter Sahabuddin Ahmed. Prime Minister Hasina recalled the contributions of philanthropist Ranada Prasad Shaha, after whom the award is titled, and called others to take up charitable work and engage in philanthropy to propel social change in Bangladesh. As the country celebrated its National Children’s Day this past weekend, Prime Minister Hasina continued to affirm her government’s commitment to ensuring a brighter future for the country’s children through development initiatives.

THE NONPROFITS

Indian government’s regulations on foreign funding of nonprofits results in 40% decline in funds. The Modi government has tightened surveillance on foreign-funded nonprofits regulated under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), and since 2014, more than 13,000 organizations have lost their licenses. Nonprofits have played an invaluable role in uplifting India’s social sector, and while a recent report by Bain shows an increase in private funding in the social sector, domestic funding in its current state is insufficient compared to the flow of funds from large foreign foundations and international organizations.

Taiwanese environmental group showcases the role of nonprofits as agents of social change. The Ministry of the Interior revealed that there were more than 60,000 nonprofits operating at national and local levels in Taiwan by the end of 2018. One leading Taipei-based nonprofit, Society of Wilderness, is an exemplar of the pivotal role of nonprofits as agents of social change. Since its establishment in 1995, the nonprofit has helped reshape government policies, business practices, and public attitudes around environmental protection and conservation. With 11 branches nationwide, 6,000 paid-up members, 3,000 volunteers, and partnerships with various government agencies, the nonprofit has achieved noteworthy reach and social impact.

THE BUSINESSES

Top Korean conglomerate donates 10,000 air purifiers to elementary, middle, and high schools. In a recent executive meeting, LG Group and its chairman, Koo Kwang-mo, decided to have LG Electronics provide 10,000 large-capacity air cleaners to schools nationwide. In addition, LG will support Internet of Things-based air quality alert services and provide artificial intelligence speakers. The total price of the donation and support services amounts to around ₩15 billion (approximately US$13 million), and this comes after a donation of 3,100 air purifiers to 262 child welfare facilities earlier this year. An LG Group official highlighted the group’s understanding of its role in society and its aim to ensure children and teens have a healthy environment to live and study in.

THE INNOVATORS

Yue-Sai Kan to launch online sustainable fashion training for Chinese executives. Television producer, entrepreneur, and fashion icon Yue-Sai Kan has announced her decision to launch an executive education program in sustainable fashion for Chinese fashion executives. The free online course will be funded jointly by the Yue-Sai Kan China Beauty Charity Fund and WeDesign Group. The program is tailored to executives and professionals of Chinese companies engaged in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products and services and aims to impart knowledge on necessary tools to integrate strategies that support the environment while growing successful businesses. “Yue-Sai Kan is a visionary who understands that the future of fashion depends on sustainability,” said Simon Collins, co-founder, and CEO of WeDesign, adding that “China will play a very, very important role. It has the scale, the capacity, and the enthusiasm to impact sustainability on a global level.”

THE VOLUNTEERS

A new program in Singapore to encourage youth volunteerism in institutes of higher learning will begin in June. First announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu during the 2019 Budget debate, the volunteer training program is the result of a partnership between Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) and various institutes of higher learning. President Halimah Yacob, who is also the patron of YCS, said, “YCS will connect these youth with the larger volunteerism ecosystem to sustain youth volunteerism even after they graduate. Through the program, we hope that the youth will rally more of their peers to give back to society and to continue to volunteer beyond their studies.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal shelter nonprofit chief grilled over alleged euthanizing of stray pets and other suspected malpractices. Allegations against Park So-yeon, chief executive of the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), first surfaced two months ago. While her charity ostensibly advocated for animal rights to raise donations, it was revealed that 250 stray pets were euthanized secretly. Police are now questioning Park for the first time since they launched a probe into the allegations two months ago. On top of the alleged euthanizing of stray pets, Park is also suspected of embezzling funds from CARE sponsors and keeping them for her personal use such as real estate purchase and insurance payments. Despite the controversy, Park pledged not to resign from her role, citing “concerns over a power struggle by former workers.” Since the allegations, more than 1,000 sponsors have withdrawn their support.

Former mosque chairman in Singapore admits misappropriating more than SG$370,000 (approximately US$274,000) from donations over seven years. Ab Mutalif Hashim, 58, pleaded guilty to six criminal breach of trust charges, with another eight charges taken into consideration. Alongside his then role as chairman of a mosque’s management board, Mutalif was the executive director of the Just Parenting Association (JPA) which he had set up and president of registered charity Association for Devoted and Active Family Men (ADAM). During this time, Mutalif used mosque donations to pay for the expenses of the ADAM charity, as well as depositing funds into his own account and the JPA’s account in amounts ranging from SG$2,200 (approximately US$1,600) to SG$39,000 (approximately US$29,000). These funds were primarily spent for his personal and household expenses, while the JPA-directed funds are suspected to have covered his own monthly salary of SG$7,000 (approximately US$5,200) as the charity’s executive director.