Who’s Doing Good?

18th March 2019 - 24th 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?

11th March 2019 - 17th 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.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Habitat for Humanity Philippines and University of Cebu formalize ₱5 million (approximately US$96,000) partnership. For the next three years, the University of Cebu will support Habitat for Humanity projects, including building new homes and training youth leaders through the Habitat Young Leaders Build Leadership Academy. Margarita Moran-Floirendo, Board Member and Ambassador of Habitat for Humanity Philippines stated, “The youth is one of the leading voices in supporting our advocacy. We are grateful that the University of Cebu is one with us in furthering our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” The program will focus on creating future socially conscious leaders through giving equal access to youth to gain and exercise leadership skills.

PM Narendra Modi to donate Seoul Peace Prize money to Namami Gange Programme. India’s Prime Minister received the Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 in recognition of his dedication to improving international cooperation, fostering economic global growth, and furthering the development of democracy. Modi has dedicated the US$200,000 prize money to the Namami Gange Programme, a flagship program of his government focused on abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganges river. Modi is the 14th recipient of the award, and past laureates include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and international organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

THE THINKERS

Despite an embryonic ecosystem, sustainable finance is growing quickly in China. High net-worth Chinese investors topped a UBS Group AG Global Survey assessing interest in sustainable investing last year, and new developments in both the public and private sectors are pushing this momentum forward. Leading impact investors highlight the array of opportunities for sustainable investing in China with an emphasis on clean energy as the country is the top target for clean energy investment globally. While 74% of wealthy Chinese investors—compared with just 32% of their U.S. and U.K. counterparts—expect sustainable investing to be the new norm in the next decade, the regulatory and legal framework that supports ESG investing still needs to be strengthened to make ESG data more reliable and impact investing less difficult.

AVPN and Prudence Foundation launch the Disaster Tech Innovation Programme. Singapore-based Asia Venture Philanthropy Network and the Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, announced the launch of their Disaster Tech Innovation Programme to raise awareness of “Disaster Tech,” innovative and viable technology solutions to protect and save lives before, during, and after natural disasters. The program will center on a competition for both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations to crowdsource innovative solutions to enhance existing disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia Pacific. The Prudence Foundation has been promoting disaster preparedness across Asia since 2013 and hopes to encourage more organizations to contribute in this area as the Asia Pacific region is the most affected by natural disasters.

Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society founder, Ruth Shapiro, highlights India’s CSR mandate. In a recent interview, Shapiro discusses India’s progressive CSR requirements and the need for stronger monitoring to ensure compliance. Shapiro brings attention to India’s role as a leader in CSR and their potential to be an example for other countries in implementing similar requirements.

THE NONPROFITS

Tech platforms in India are helping CSR efforts connect with small nonprofits. As the first country to make CSR mandatory, India’s CSR initiatives have developed significantly over the past few years. However, most CSR projects partner with large nonprofits on their radar, leaving smaller nonprofits often overlooked due to lack of exposure and accessibility. Several online social platforms, such as social marketplaces, have developed in response to this geographic bias to fill the gap that exists between nonprofits and their causes, donors, volunteers, and corporates who want to collaborate. These online social marketplaces are now enabling corporates to engage with CSR activities that more closely align with their CSR mission by connecting them to nonprofits directly that are working in their selected cause.

THE BUSINESSES

Samsung to invest more in education programs. As part of its CSR, Samsung Electronics plans to increase its investments in the field of youth education. On February 18, 2018, the company’s three division heads announced to employees that the renewed mission of Samsung’s social investment in education will be on “enabling people.” With this goal in mind, a particular target will be put on developing programs for teens. Although Samsung has conducted various CSR activities in the past, this announcement is notable in that it comes a month after its de facto leader and vice chairman Lee Jae-yong pledged to fully commit in taking on social responsibility as Korea’s leading conglomerate in a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House.

THE INNOVATORS

Machine learning can double social impact if sufficient data are available. Gaining attention at the center of international conferences and Davos-launched initiatives, machine learning is being heralded for its potential to drive social delivery. IDinsight, a nonprofit that uses data and evidence to help leaders in the social sector combat poverty, highlights four practical requirements for machine learning to accurately make predictions that allow nonprofits to enhance their impact. In employing machine learning tools to help Indian nonprofit Educate Girls, IDinsight discovered that high-quality predictor and outcome data, the capacity to act on predictions, and the ability to maintain the machine-learning algorithms are critical in ensuring relevant and accurate prediction models for informed decision-making. To truly drive social impact with machine learning, philanthropy and government will also have an important role to play in funding the collection of accurate and geographically representative data.

Joint philanthropy and impact investing can enhance efforts to meet SDGs. While impact investing and philanthropic giving have traditionally been seen as separate silos in the financial world, efforts to meet the demands of the SDGs are bringing the two forms of financing together. Many social and environmental projects that may have the potential to become viable impact investments need assistance in their early stages. Philanthropic financing can play a pivotal role in helping these organizations and projects evolve and become mature enough to attract impact investments. While the SDGs have been pushing both philanthropy and impact investing towards a common goal, stronger linkages between the two forms of financing can complement each other’s needs and requirements and scale impact to meet the huge demand.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Singapore nonprofit, Willing Hearts, serves customized meals to the aging poor. Former businessman, Tony Tay, founded Willing Hearts, a nonprofit aid organization wholly run by volunteers that serves the aging poor in Singapore. With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, Willing Hearts prepares and delivers customized meals to more than 6,000 low-income elderly individuals every day of the week. Tay’s nonprofit has grown significantly over the years in response to the growing demand of an aging society, and Willing Hearts now offers additional services including dental care, optical care, and legal aid.

Who’s Doing Good?

11 February 2019 - 17 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Asia’s second wave of philanthropists favoring hands-on approaches to philanthropy. Second- and third-generation philanthropists from wealthy families in North Asia are transforming the philanthropy landscape as they pursue different practices than those of their parents. The findings are part of a report published by Stanford Social Innovation Review. The report adds that these philanthropists not only prefer managerial models of governance but also demonstrate greater interest in social enterprise and social value investment models. Kyung Sun Chung in Korea, Daisuke Kan in Japan, and Allen Liang in China are leading examples of philanthropists working to build strong ecosystems for social entrepreneurship and social innovation in their countries.

Donation from Mitsubishi Motors’ STEP Fund helps build new school building in the Philippines. Voluntary donations from employees at Mitsubishi Motors to the company’s STEP Fund, matched with an equivalent contribution by the company, amounted to a ¥3 million (approximately US$27,000) donation to build a classroom building at Camayse Elementary School in the Philippines. As the company builds its presence across the ASEAN region, it has committed to stronger CSR efforts in the local communities where it operates. The project was conducted by the World Vision Development Foundation in the Philippines, and construction of the new classroom building was completed in January 2019.

THE THINKERS

Bill and Melinda Gates publish annual letter highlighting surprises in philanthropy in 2018. In their 2019 letter, titled, “We didn’t see this coming,” the couple highlights nine surprises they encountered through their foundation’s philanthropic work. These range from gender gaps in global data and mobile phone ownership to the potential of at-home DNA tests. The couple underscores the important role such surprises have played in their philanthropic journey, stating, “A benefit of surprises is that they’re often a prod to action.” While these new discoveries have stirred curiosity and concern at the Gates Foundation, the couple concludes their letter with optimism and confidence in the power of innovation to address extant and emerging issues.

Oxford study recommends crowdfunding for financing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Crowdfunding has grown significantly in the Asia-Pacific region in the last few years – it helped raise US$103 billion in the region in 2016. However, a new study by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School highlights that only US$165 million of these funds were donations, which pales in comparison to the U.S. which despite raising only US$35 billion, received nearly twice as much in donations (US$339 million). According to UN estimates, achieving the 17 highly ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will cost around US$5 trillion to US$7 trillion a year, about US$4 trillion of which is required in developing countries. The report also highlights the potential of SDG-related crowdfunding platforms to encourage social entrepreneurs with opportunities for match-funding by corporations, foundations, and governments.

THE NONPROFITS

Women Who Code partners with VMware to retrain 15,000 women for tech jobs in India. VMinclusion Taara is a joint initiative of Women Who Code (WWCode), an international nonprofit that inspires women to succeed in the tech industry, and VMware, a computer software subsidiary of Dell Technologies. The VMinclusion Taara initiative was formed to train and upskill 15,000 women in India who have left the tech industry. According to estimates, 45% of women working in tech normally quit the industry after 8 years. This program, which creates a path of re-entry for women through free training and certification on advance digital transformation solutions, will be WWCode’s biggest reskilling and back-to-work initiative.

THE BUSINESSES

KKR’s global impact fund co-invests with KKR Asia’s Fund in Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited. Investment firm KKR has acquired a 60% stake in Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (REEL), a leading provider of environmental services in India and overseas, for approximately US$510 million. The investment is a part of KKR’s Global Impact strategy, which focuses on identifying and investing in businesses with positive social and environmental impact that contribute to the SDGs. KKR’s Global Impact strategy will build upon the firm’s expertise in environmental issue management and REEL’s experience in environmental management to innovate and provide critical solutions to reduce pollution and improve sanitation infrastructure worldwide.

THE INNOVATORS

Singapore’s vibrant social innovation ecosystem rooted in strong public-private-people collaborations. Singapore’s government recognizes that cross-sector partnerships are needed for an ecosystem that supports innovation and social impact. Its efforts to boost the sector’s growth have been buttressed by intermediary organizations that are improving cross-sector coordination and Singapore-based private investment networks that are connecting social businesses with global partners and investors. Universities in Singapore are also contributing to new curricula and experiential learning programs that promote social business values and social entrepreneurship. This commitment from Singapore’s government, businesses, and universities to social responsibility is transforming business culture and positioning the country to be a leading force in social innovation.

THE VOLUNTEERS

A partnership between Standard Chartered Bank and volunteer organization, RSVP Singapore, to create more volunteer opportunities for seniors. In Singapore’s aging population, silver volunteerism has been gaining attention as the number of Singaporeans aged 65 is expected to double by 2030. The three-year partnership seeks to tap into this growing pool of seniors with a wealth of skills and experience through initiatives such as an inter-generational volunteering program. The collaboration will also train senior volunteers to help conduct health tasks and mindfulness practices as part of a nationwide expansion of a pre-dementia program. As other countries in the region face aging societies, innovative engagement and intergenerational programs can integrate the growing population of skilled and experienced seniors in efforts to create social impact and serve local communities.

Who’s Doing Good?

28 January 2019 - 03 February 2019

THE GIVERS

Vogue India lists most generous billionaires who are using money to address the country’s income inequity. The list features India’s richest trailblazers in philanthropy from Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, to Sangita Jindal, chairperson of the JSW Foundation. The list also highlights two of India’s billionaires, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Rohini Nilekani, who have signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet that asks billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. These twelve Indian billionaires lead the way in applying financial acumen to enhance impact, and their work is an inspiration for others to dedicate their wealth to address their country’s most pressing social issues from education to healthcare development.

THE THINKERS

Rohini Nilekani urges social sector to speak up about failure. In the social sector, success stories are celebrated with awards and funding, and this leads social organizations to quieten stories of failure. Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani highlights how this fear of failure in the social sector inhibits innovation and growth. The path to change at scale in the social sector needs experimentation; thus, the acceptance of failure is essential for the success of the social sector. Nilekani calls for more candid communication between social entrepreneurs and the philanthropic community and points to leaders in the sector to collaborate more, pool resources and experience, and take bigger risks to pave way for greater social impact.

“How charities can avoid turning off potential donors.” Sara Kim and Ann L. McGill, authors of “Helping Others by First Affirming the Self: When Self-Affirmation Reduces Ego-Defensive Downplaying of Others’ Misfortunes,” explore a common dilemma that charities face. That is, “charities dealing with distressing topics such as illness, starvation, or war have to walk a fine line: they need to increase awareness of what they do without turning off potential supports and donors.” The solution, according to Kim and McGill, lies in “self-affirmation.” The authors claim that if people were reminded of who they are at heart, they might be less likely to downplay others’ misfortunes because they would not feel threatened or defensive. Through multiple behavioral psychological experiments, the researchers observed results in which participants who completed self-affirmation tasks were more likely to donate to nonprofits with no personal relevance or connection. For example, male participants who completed the self-affirmation task read about a breast-cancer charity for longer and donated more money to it.

THE NONPROFITS

Shanghai charity makes English fun for migrant children. In recent years, a number of organizations have emerged to assist the children of migrant workers in China’s major cities. Stepping Stones, a volunteer organization that helps migrant children build fluency in English, is one of the longest-running organizations with more than 300 regular volunteer teachers. In a recent interview, the founder of Stepping Stones highlighted the legislative challenges the organization faced and the need for clearer legal guidelines and regulations for nonprofits in China. As the population of migrant workers continues to grow, organizations addressing needs of migrant children will need more support from the government and funders to emulate the same quality and scale of services that Stepping Stones has achieved over the past ten years.

Charitable foundation in China reported having spent over 250 million yuan (US$37 million) fighting poverty in 2018. Established in 2007 by the Central Committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association to prompt enterprise engagement in poverty relief and other charitable projects, the China Siyuan Foundation for Poverty Alleviation announced that it had spent over 250 million yuan to fight poverty in 2018. According to the foundation, around two million individuals benefited from its various programs—from medical care to education. In 2019, the foundation plans to spend a further increased amount of 265 million yuan (approximately US$39.3 million) for poverty alleviation.

Two Greenpeace offices shut after donation row. Environmental group Greenpeace announced it had been forced to shut two of its regional offices in India and had asked its staff to leave due to a block on its bank account after accusations of illegal donations. Since 2015, Greenpeace has been barred from receiving foreign donations, and India’s financial crime investigating agency froze the group’s bank account in October 2018.

THE BUSINESSES

Cathay Pacific enhances community engagement strategy with two new programs. Hong Kong’s home airline has partnered with Social Ventures Hong Kong to develop two new community engagement programs. The first initiative, “Cathay Changemakers,” recognizes positive contributions by Hong Kong residents and promotes their causes across a wide audience including passengers, employees, and business partners around the world. The second initiative, “World As One,” partners with the nonprofit VolTra to provide underprivileged youth, including ethnic minorities and reformed drug addicts, the opportunity to travel on volunteer work trips. Cathay Pacific hopes to effect greater social change by leveraging its strength in connecting people and places and by collaborating with partners across different sectors.

Courts Singapore employees help spring-clean homes of elderly as part of the company’s new CSR program. Courts Singapore has partnered with the nonprofit Care Community Service Society (CCSS) to launch its new CSR program: Courts Charity Home. Through the new initiative, Courts will donate products to beneficiaries served by CCSS, including elderly, at-risk youth, and disadvantaged children. To kick off the program, staff volunteers delivered new home necessities to underprivileged elderly, matched their wish-list items (such as rice-cookers and electric kettles), and helped spring-clean their homes. The launch of Courts Singapore’s new CSR program last week ushers in Chinese New Year with a strong charitable spirit and deepened commitment to service and community.

THE INNOVATORS

Globe Telecom brings digital donation channel to nonprofits. Globe Telecom, a major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines, made it easier for its over 8,000 employees and thousands of guests to donate to their chosen nonprofits through the use of GCash QR codes, raising almost ₱450,000 (approximately US$8,600) in just about two months. These funds were collected via the “Purpose Tree,” which was set up at the company’s headquarters in Manila. Any passer-by, including employees and visitors, can donate from their GCash account to their preferred charity by scanning the assigned QR code on the “Purpose Tree.” “In an era of mobile technology, potential donors want and expect to be able to act immediately. The use of GCash QR codes not only makes giving more convenient but also democratizes it. It puts control on the hands of the donors. They can choose their preferred NGO and donate any amount through GCash scan-to-pay online platform. This is much more efficient and larger in scale than traditional models like donation boxes and envelopes,” said Yoly Crisanto, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president for corporate communications at Globe Telecom.

Y Analytics launches to bring together capital and research for good. The impact measurement arm of TPG’s Rise Fund has branched off into an independent research organization—Y Analytics—to expand its research framework for informed decision-making to a larger network of investors. The organization will bring together leading economists, researchers, and capital allocators to evaluate and predict impact pre-investment and manage and measure impact thereafter. While the organization will build upon the Rise Fund’s “Impact Multiple of Money” system for informing capital in pursuit of change, it will also develop a research advisory council with partners including the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT and the World Resources Institute. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., Y Analytics will translate its new findings to both bolster the research basis for informed impact investing and advance knowledge in the field.

Who’s Doing Good?

14 January 2019 - 20 January 2019

THE GIVERS

Henry Sy, Philippine’s’ wealthiest man and notable philanthropist, passes away. The “Retail King”, as Sy was cordially known, immigrated from China and transformed a small shoe business into a thriving retail empire over the years. His company, SM Investments, owns three of the most valuable companies in the Philippines today, spanning extensive retail, banking and real estate operations. Sy was also regarded for his philanthropy. In 1983 he founded the SM Foundation to undertake efforts mainly in education which the he saw as a way out of poverty. The foundation’s generous scholarships to thousands of deserving but underprivileged Filipino youth enabled them to attain college education. Sy was aged 94.

Chinese scientist Qian Qihu to donate science award worth ¥8 million (US$1.2 million) to children’s education. Two Chinese scientists, Qian Qihu and Liu Yongtan, were honored the highest science and technology award by President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People earlier this month. Each received ¥8 million (approximately US$1.2 million) for the award. Qian, who was recognized for his work on the country’s underground defense infrastructure, has decided to use the award money to set up a fund to help low-income children gain access to schools in his hometown of Kunshan. Qian has a history of charitable giving to education: since 2006, he has personally donated more than ¥200,000 (approximately US$29,500) to 17 low-income students.

The 2018 edition of Operation Santa Claus raises more than HK$17 million (approximately US$2.2 million). The latest edition of the Christmas fundraising drive, organized by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK, included a variety of fundraising events held across the city from mid-November 2018 to mid-January 2019. The 13 charities receiving the funding offer an array of services ranging from supporting vulnerable youths and the elderly to bringing therapeutic art to hospitals. The drive has now raised more than HK$300 million (approximately US$38 million) in total since its inception in 1988.

THE THINKERS

Education and digitization key to reducing poverty in China, argue Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai. Leaders of the world’s fifth-biggest internet company, Alibaba, put forth the argument at two annual philanthropy events in Sanya and Hangzhou, China. Ma said the use of new technologies allows farmers to become more competitive and in turn boost profits. For example, an analysis of shoppers’ preferences on Alibaba’s platform revealed a consumer preference for sweet melons weighing around two pounds. This insight was passed to farmers who altered their practices to meet these demands and were subsequently able to generate much higher revenues. Tsai quoted government figures which state that 42% of the 14 million middle-school graduates in China move straight to low-skilled jobs instead of high school. He argued skills training can make this transition smoother. Ma added further that these problems can only be solved if Chinese business leaders and the government work together.

THE NONPROFITS

India relaxes requirements on nonprofits looking to receive foreign donations. Nonprofits registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) are no longer required to sign-up to a government portal to receive foreign donations. Before the changes to the FCRA, organizations were required to undergo a tedious registration process before being able to receive foreign donations. This requirement was instituted in October 2017 to enhance accountability of organizations receiving foreign funding. The move will provide relief to thousands of nonprofits who faced difficulties in fulfilling this requirement.

THE BUSINESSES

The Independent lists Singaporean social enterprises making an impact. The enterprises on the list – CrushXO, I-Drop and Bookshare – achieve social objectives through their business models. CrushXO is a beauty startup which sells vegan-friendly makeup products. It donates 5% of its total sales to charities working on a range of social missions, including breast cancer awareness. I-Drop sells purified water through dispensing machines in grocery stores. Users fill their own multi-use water containers allowing prices to be as low as one-fifth of the cost of a traditional water container. Bookshare provides customized reading experiences to individuals facing health issues such as blindness and cerebral palsy. The platform boasts a library of over 670,000 books and charges S$1 (approximately US$0.74) for a weekly subscription.

“Breaking Bread Together” campaign provides freshly baked bread to children of low-income families in Korea. More than 400,000 children in Korea are estimated to be at risk of being underfed or malnourished. In response, Sun-in Co., a leading Korean specialty food manufacturer and distributor, partnered with Goldman Sachs and the Korean Red Cross to launch the “Breaking Bread Together” campaign. This campaign distributes fresh bread to children of low-income families on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A pilot program had been running since last year, and this month the campaign will expand the program to 16 cities across Korea. As a result, the number of families receiving freshly baked bread is expected to exceed 1,100 households.

THE INNOVATORS

Billionaire donors team-up for collaborative impact fund, Co-Impact. The impact fund is supported by 25 backers including Bill and Melinda Gates and Indian billionaires Rohini and Nandan Nilekani. As part of the effort, partners will fund and provide technical assistance to projects aimed at driving large-scale impact in Africa, South Asia and South America. The fund’s first US$80 million in grants will support five projects. One of these is an implementation of an education program developed by Pratham, one of India’s largest nonprofits, in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Around 3 million students are expected to benefit from Pratham’s knowledge of boosting reading and math proficiency. Together, the five programs are expected to impact over 9 million lives.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal rights leader refuses to step down despite euthanasia scandal. Park So-youn, the head of one of Korea’s largest animal rights groups, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), was accused of euthanizing more than 250 dogs earlier this month. Park claims the move was driven by mercy towards sick animals, however CARE staff and other animal rights groups reject Park’s view and have called for her resignation. According to one of the staff members: “Park is trying to justify her indiscriminate behavior (of administering euthanasia). Instead she is saying she will lead the social discussion on animal euthanasia.” Funding for animal rights groups in Korea is reported to have fallen drastically in the wake of the incident.

Who’s Doing Good?

7 January 2019 - 13 January 2019

THE GIVERS

Need for innovation and imagination more pressing as India’s social sector matures, says philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. Recent developments in the Indian philanthropic ecosystem are cause for excitement, according to Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani. She mentions the India Leaders for Social Sector as a vital ecosystem enabler, training citizens to serve as future leaders in the social sector. However, a trust deficit between donors and civil society is yet to be alleviated—philanthropists are often unsure about the impact that their contributions will create. Despite this uncertainty, Rohini claims philanthropists are in the best position to embrace innovation. Unlike the government, the wealthy can afford to take risks, contributing to areas such as climate change.

THE THINKERS

International conference recognizes the role of social workers in Indonesia’s health sector. Titled the “International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health,” the conference is the brainchild of Dr. Adi Fahruddin, a social welfare professor at Muhammadiyah Jakarta University’s School of Social and Political Sciences. Fahruddin opines social workers are rarely credited for their work in the health sector despite heavy involvement. Social workers are also notable for their diverse perspectives and tools which they acquire in training alongside other professionals. Apart from crediting them for their work, the conference explored the potential of social workers in building the future of health management in Indonesia. 

THE NONPROFITS 

Indian nonprofit to light up the 400th village with solar power. Chirag Rural Development Foundation is set to light up its 400th village in India with solar power. Founded in 2010 by Professor Prathiba Pai, the Indian charity has so far introduced solar lamps in 16,000 homes, covering 100,000 people across seven states in India. “We used solar power for lighting up homes, street lighting, and now have solar-powered lift irrigation to water the fields for farming also, “said Pai. Chirag also involves the youth in this cause. “We take our college students on field trips to these villages to sensitize them about the scenario in rural India,” she said. By 2020, the organization wants to light up 15,000 more homes in the country, taking their total to 30,000 homes and impacting 200,000 lives. 

THE BUSINESSES

SingPost launches a home-visiting initiative for the elderly. National postal operator SingPost has commenced its Postman Home Visits initiative, in which postal carriers volunteer to check in with elderly customers while making their delivery rounds. Following the success of the pilot program last year, SingPost will gradually roll out the initiative to all districts across Singapore. During their visits, the volunteers make simple observations about the elderly under their charge and fill in a checklist for the relevant social service agency overseeing the area, updating on the elderly’s mental and physical well-being. Woo Keng Leong, SingPost’s CEO, said, “Postal workers have been a ubiquitous part of the community for more than a century. The Postman Home Visits initiative is a natural extension of their service to the community, as it offers kind-hearted staff the opportunity to do good during the course of their work.”

Kirin restructures donation policy after Amnesty report. Between September and October 2018, Kirin’s subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery, made three donations totaling US$30,000 for humanitarian purposes, which an Amnesty International report suggested were actually given to the Myanmar military linked to war crimes in Rakhine State. In response, Japanese brewer Kirin has tightened its donation policy and will facilitate a human rights impact assessment on its operations. The firm’s plan includes suspending donations made Myanmar Brewery, tightening its donation policy, holding regular internal audits to ensure the new policy is being followed, and conducting a human rights impact assessment on its operations by an external independent consultant.

THE INNOVATORS

New online shopping mall to donate up to 40% of each sale to social projects. The Korea National Council on Social Welfare and Vastan Co., Ltd. developed a new online shopping mall to connect “good consumers” and “good suppliers” and to make social contributions. Known as the Value Creator Platform (VCP), the online shopping platform allows customers to select various social projects at the time of purchasing a product, whose supplier will donate 20-40% of each sale to the designated project. All donations collected will be used for charitable projects dedicated to helping children, teenagers, persons with disabilities, multicultural families, and other vulnerable groups. Seo Sang-mok, president of the Korea National Council on Social Welfare, said, “ VCP is at the center of innovation that could generate new values at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where consumption means social contribution.”

Creative public donation machines arrive in Taiwan’s Hualien. Ten interactive public donation machines, which are each designed in the shapes of different popular dolls, were jointly launched by four charitable organizations and 7-Eleven for the benefit of poor and lonely senior citizens in Taiwan. Inserting coins or bills into the slots of the machines initiates an arm-wrestling match with the machines, and if defeated, the machines award a special “sticky monster” card. Since December 2018, the ten machines have toured Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung, having attracted more than 50,000 people to contribute.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Korean animal rights charity caught secretly exterminating hundreds of rescued dogs. Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), a leading animal rights group in Korea with some 23,000 members and around ₩2 billion (approximately US$1.8 million) in annual donations, was leaked to have killed 230 rescued dogs—despite a declared no-kill policy—because of a shortage of shelter space and to ensure a continued stream of donations. This figure was equivalent to around a quarter of the animals the group rescued in the same period. Only 10% of the 230 dogs were suffering from incurable illnesses, and most were killed due to their large size. On the other hand, the organization’s head, Park So-yeon, refuted that a “small number” of exterminations had been “inevitable” since 2015 due to a “surge in requests for rescue missions” and that only severely aggressive ones or those with incurable illnesses were killed. Staff members of CARE, who originally leaked the story to a local news outlet, mounted a protest in the organization’s offices on the weekend to demand Park’s resignation.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong Tatler names top 50 Asian philanthropists. The list features 50 of the most notable Asian philanthropists who have established charities or contributed generously to society through their donations. This year sees Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person, topping the list. Through his foundation, Li has committed to donating approximately US$10 billion, a third of his fortune. Other notable philanthropists on the list include Ronnie Chan, Lui Che-woo, and Peter Woo. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, made the largest donation to Harvard University when he donated US$350 million in 2014. Contributions from these 50 individuals span a variety of domains, including the arts, education, cancer research, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.

THE THINKERS

Mainstreaming of impact investment necessary to meet funding gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton featured observations from Fran Seegull, executive director of the United States Impact Investing Alliance, and Jonathan Wong of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The experts argue that private investment can not only meet the current funding gap, but also do so in a more sustainable fashion. According to Seegull, however, only the right mix of supportive and mandatory policy instruments can encourage this investment. Governments, therefore, must balance providing incentives and simultaneously preventing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Wong adds that greater rigor in measuring social impact can assist governments in creating relevant evidence-based policy instruments, as well as informing and motivating investors with a clearer idea of potential returns.

Ronnie Chan and Ruth Shapiro’s pioneering journey to understand and promote Asian philanthropy. Ruth Shapiro, chief executive of CAPS, credits Ronnie Chan, one of Asia’s leading philanthropists, for his generous support in establishing CAPS. As per the interview published by Hong Kong Tatler, the modern Asian context served a precursor to CAPS. Chan and Shapiro saw that the exponential increase in private wealth across the region brought with it an increasing desire to give back to society. In order to facilitate this growing interest in philanthropy, CAPS launched its inaugural flagship research, the Doing Good Index, which seeks to measure the regulatory, fiscal, and societal infrastructure and ecosystem that makes it easier to “do good.”

Regaining public trust key to businesses and governments meeting societal goals. At two events organized in Singapore by French business school INSEAD, participants agreed that alleviating a rampant trust deficit was essential to creating social impact. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that trust in businesses, governments, and media remains dismal, as 60% agree globally that CEOs are driven by greed rather than a desire to “do good.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, recommended that businesses and governments embrace rules-based trading, implement meritocracy, and place societal interests before personal ones to regain trust. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean of INSEAD, argued that training business leaders to understand the relationship between business and society rigorously would also help regain lost trust.

THE NONPROFITS

Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through Indonesia Masters to support tsunami and earthquake victims. Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, is serving as the sustainable partner for the 2018 Asian Golf Tour. As part of this partnership, Asian golfers took upon the role of ambassadors during the season to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work. At the Indonesia Masters, spectators and golf enthusiasts will be able to contribute by purchasing merchandise and participating in charity games. The defending champion of the event, English golfer Justin Rose, has already donated US$50,000 to the nonprofit’s work in Indonesia for rehabilitating those affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake in Sulawesi and Lombok.

THE BUSINESSES

Impact investment asset manager Aavishkaar-IntelleCap Group receives ₹32 crore (approximately US$32 million) in investment from Nuveen, an American asset management firm. Nuveen’s investment will be used by Aavishkaar-IntelleCap to further increase its stakes in its subsidiaries. Nuveen is the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and holds over US$950 billion in assets. Aavishkaar-IntelleCap, based in India, is considered one of the world’s largest impact investing firms and offers a range of services including microfinance, equity financing, and consulting. The current investment by Nuveen follows Aavishkaar-IntelleCap’s efforts to raise US$300 million for its fund focused on Southeast Asia, which scouts opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos. Founded in 2001, Aavishkaar-IntelleCap currently manages a portfolio worth US$155 million spanning high-impact businesses at various stages of growth.

Indian personal care company, Himalaya, releases film to raise awareness about cleft-affected children. Titled “Ek Nayi Muskaan” (loosely translated to “A New Smile”), the film documents the story of Munmun, an eight-year-old girl from a village near Lucknow, India. Each year, over 35,000 babies are born in India with cleft lip and/or palate, and fewer than half receive treatment due to ignorance or poverty. Children with this condition are known to face difficulties in eating, breathing, and speaking. The surgery required is considered safe, immediate, and transformative. Munmun is shown in the film to receive support from “Muskaan,” an initiative of Himalaya in partnership with Smile Train, a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City. As part of the initiative, money from every purchase of a Himalaya lip-care product will be donated for this cause.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister charged for criminal breach of trust involving charity organization. Beleaguered former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was found to have misappropriated funds worth RM10 million (US$3.2 million) originally meant for Yayasan Akalbudi, his personal charity organization. The loan was discovered to have been passed to Armada Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate. The current Criminal Breach of Trust ruling sees the number of charges against Hamidi swell to 46, amounting to a total of RM223 million (approximately US$53 million).

Chinese businessman jailed for running a pyramid scheme in the name of the poor worth RMB 20 billion (approximately US$2.9 billion). Zhang Tianming and 17 other individuals associated with him have been found guilty of running a pyramid and multi-level marketing scheme, which affected nearly six million people. Zhang’s company had lured investors with promises of high rates of return on projects that were meant to help the poor, but had instead paid out early members purely using funds from new joiners, a court investigation found.

Sexual abuse in the Nepali aid sector puts children at risk. The arrest of five foreign aid workers over the last year for alleged sexual abuse of children in Nepal has escalated fears that the country has become a target of pedophiles. These individuals are thought to be working under the cover of aid work or philanthropy. The most high-profile case of this alarming trend is that of Canadian aid worker Peter Dalglish. After spending nearly 20 years helping some of the world’s poorest children, Dalglish was arrested this year, and police found two boys, aged 12 and 14 respectively, inside his residence. Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker, opines that these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that more or such incidents are to come and to be revealed.

Who’s Doing Good?

3 December 2018 - 9 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Singapore-based Vietnamese private equity veteran champions social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. Lam Nguyen-Phuong, who was co-founder and senior managing partner of the private markets division of the Capital Group before his recent retirement in January, supports social entrepreneurship as his area of philanthropic focus. However, Nguyen-Phuong is not in it for profit, steering clear of impact investments for his personal portfolio: “I’ve been approached by social impact [investment] firms to invest, and I refused… Impact investments have a built-in conflict, as investors may say—why can’t we limit the social impact for a higher return? But profit has to come after purpose, and only to make it self-sustainable. When I used to make investments for [private equity] clients, the main objective was to make a profit. If in the process there was a social benefit, that was good.” In his personal capacity, Nguyen-Phuong has supported Ashoka and is a donor through an Ashoka endowment fund set up in his family’s name to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as well as personally mentoring social entrepreneurs under organizations that he personally supports.

Samsung Welfare Foundation names tycoon’s daughter as new chief. Stepping down from her position as president of the fashion division of Samsung C&T Corporation, Lee Seo-hyun, a daughter of hospitalized Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, will now assume a new role as chairman of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. She will start her four-year term on January 1, 2019. Samsung Welfare Foundation, one of Samsung’s four foundations, was established in 1989 by Lee Kun-hee in an effort to expand Samsung’s charity projects and initiatives.

Japanese actress’ fund helps renovate school in Nepal. A fund run by Japanese actress Norika Fujiwara has been used to renovate a high school in Nepal. Fujiwara’s “Smile Please World Children’s Fund” helped provide the previously dilapidated Shree Ganesh High School with five new classrooms and a water facility for its 447 students. Nepal represents the third country after Afghanistan and Cambodia where the actress has helped build schools. It is uncommon for Japanese actresses to do charity work, she said, adding, “I want to tell the reality of the world to the Japanese society.”

K-Pop girl group member donates ₩50 million to charity. Seol-hyun of K-Pop girl group AOA recently donated ₩50 million (approximately US$44,385) to the Community Chest of Korea for supporting children from low-income families. This particular donation marks the third donation that Seol-hyun has individually made to various causes. In the previous year, she made two donations of the same amount to help victims of an earthquake in Pohang, Korea, and to help deaf children in Seoul.

Lego Foundation grants US$100 million to help refugee children. In its first major humanitarian project, the Lego Foundation announced its decision to provide US$100 million over the next five years to Sesame Workshop’s work with the International Rescue Committee and with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC. The aim is to create play-based learning programs for children up to the age of six in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. “We do risk losing a whole generation if we don’t help the children who find themselves in these emergency settings,” said John Goodwin, the chief executive of the Lego Foundation.

THE THINKERS

“A few NGOs are getting a lot of bad press. What’s the overall track record?” Having observed an increasing number of nonprofits coming under fire, The Washing Post explores recent cases and incidents that may explain why. From multiple sexual abuse scandals in developing economies to lack of accountability to meet organizational goals and targets, nonprofits dominated many frontpage headlines throughout the year. At the same time, there were several favorable polls that attested to society’s positive perception of and trust in the nonprofit sector. To figure out the true impact of nonprofits beyond perception, the authors studied a random selection of 300 published articles and reports on nonprofits and found that nearly 60% of them reported solely favorable effects of nonprofits on development outcomes, while just 4% reported that they had only unfavorable effects.

“Impact investing can be next growth and job engine for India: Amit Bhatia, Global Steering Group.” In this e-mail interview with The Economic Times, Amit Bhatia, global chief executive officer of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, speaks about the growing market of impact investing and its significance. Most notably, Bhatia shares how the impact economy is now worth US$23 trillion—US$16 trillion in responsible investing, US$6 trillion in sustainable investing, and US$0.25 trillion in impact investing. In terms of the future growth trajectory, Bhatia refers to his organization’s recent study with KPMG, sharing that by 2020, impact investments will cross US$468 billion.

Noteworthy talks and sessions at this year’s Yidan Prize Summit. Now in its second year, this Hong Kong-based education-focused forum brings together thought leaders—policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, politicians, and educators—to formulate strategies to ensure today’s education meets the needs of tomorrow. In this feature article, Hong Kong Tatler previews and spotlights seven sessions at the event—from conversations with this year’s laureates to “Growing the Right Talent for Tomorrow” with Hong Kong philanthropist and Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan.

THE NONPROFITS

Filipino government awards Singaporean nonprofit helping foreign domestic workers. President Rodrigo Duterte conferred the Kaanib ng Bayan (Nation’s Partner) Award to the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast). The organization, a charity supported by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, was recognized for its “exception or significant contribution… to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities.” Seah Seng Choon, the charity’s president, told The Straits Times, “It’s a recognition of the work that Fast is doing, and we’re glad that we have been recognized. This encourages us to do more.” Since its founding in 2005, Fast has been organizing courses and programs to help domestic workers learn skills that can add value to their work and enhance their future employability. These include cooking, baking, infant- and eldercare, foot reflexology, computer literacy, English, stress management, and entrepreneurship. Over 25,000 foreign domestic workers go through these courses each year.

Korean President invites major charity groups to top office and promotes culture of giving. President Moon Jae-in invited and hosted on Friday 15 of the country’s major charitable organizations at the Blue House. These charities included, for example, Salvation Army Korea, Good Neighbors, World Vision, and Child Fund. The Blue House said the event was arranged to imbue the public with the spirit of sharing and giving toward underprivileged neighbors during the year-end season, noting it is the first such gathering of the major charities. President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook also delivered their donations to each of the participating groups.

Delhi city government bars Bloomberg-funded charity from tobacco control work. According to a city government official and a memo seen by Reuters, a small Indian nonprofit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies will not be allowed to carry out tobacco control work in New Delhi after it failed to disclose its funding. The same official also added that other foreign-funded organizations will need to seek prior approval in the future for anti-tobacco activities. The Delhi city government’s decision comes amid similar moves by the Indian government, which has since 2014 tightened surveillance of foreign-funded charities. An anonymous anti-tobacco activist commented, “This is sending a wrong message. They are basically deterring tobacco control.”

Pakistani government officially announces expulsion of 18 charities. Pakistan announced on Thursday it was expelling 18 international charities amid growing paranoia that Western aid agencies are being used as a front for espionage. Umair Hasan, the spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation, an umbrella representing 15 of the 18 charities, said those charities alone help 11 million impoverished Pakistanis and contribute more than US$130 million in assistance, adding, “No organization has been given a clear reason for the denial of its registration renewal applications.” However, Shireen Mazari, the country’s human rights minister, said on Twitter the 18 groups were responsible for spreading disinformation. “They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do,” she said.

Number of new charities in Singapore down to 10-year low. The number of new charities in Singapore hit a 10-year low last year. According to the Commissioner of Charities’ latest annual report, only 39 groups registered as charities last year. This is down from 49 a year before and 59 in 2008. Various experts have explained this decline could be due to the rise of informal help groups and the sector reaching a saturation point. Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee said, “There are so many charities out there fighting for the same donation dollar, and it is very difficult for new charities to raise funds. So people may think it’s easier to volunteer at existing charities, doing the work they were thinking of doing, instead of starting a new charity.”

THE BUSINESSES

UBS streamlines efforts to address the rising importance of gift-giving to the world’s wealthy. Switzerland-based global bank UBS has recently streamlined its group-wide philanthropic efforts, consolidating them into a single 45-member team. Phyllis Costanza, a veteran who has served at the bank for seven years, has been tasked with leading the team. Costanza also heads the UBS Optimus Foundation, which successfully launched a high-yielding bond linked to the learning development of young girls in Rajasthan, India, in 2016. UBS executives, Hubertus Kuelps and Joe Stadler, were confident the team would achieve “measurable social impact through their philanthropic activities, while also generating enhanced business growth for UBS.”

A look at HSBC’s philanthropic activities and how it approaches maximizing social impact. Cynthia D’Anjou-Brown, Asia head of philanthropy and family governance advisory services for HSBC Private Banking, details in this interview the bank’s extensive work in advising and supporting its private banking clients in regards to the charitable and philanthropic sectors. According to D’Anjou-Brown, the bank has learned that matching donors with causes they feel passionate about and tapping into their expertise help maximize impact.

THE INNOVATORS

Recent seminar in Thailand discusses the importance of social enterprises in boosting sustainable development. At “Thailand Social Enterprise: The Way Forward,” various stakeholders and experts gathered to discuss the role of social enterprises in contributing to Thailand’s sustainable development and growth. Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, noted that building a supportive ecosystem is important: “The law alone cannot govern every part of the ecosystem. Cooperation from all sectors, namely incubators, education sector, financial institutions, entrepreneurs’ associations, and public sector are key for the successful implementation and development of social enterprises.” Sarinee Achavanuntakul, co-founder of Sal Forest, Thailand’s first “sustainable business accelerator,” said that the biggest challenge is social entrepreneurs abandoning their mission or having very little social impact and that as such, the most important thing is evaluating the enterprise’s social impact, as well as the pressure it can have on the public. This seminar hosted by the Thailand Institute of Justice occurred amidst a recent public hearing on the Social Enterprise Promotion draft bill, which has now reached the final stage before being handed over to the National Legislative Assembly for consideration.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Student charity run in Malaysia collects RM200,000 (approximately US$50,000) to support victims of human trafficking. The race was organized as part of the global charity event, “24-Hour Race,” and saw participation from over a thousand people who completed over 15,000 laps. This year’s race was the event’s eighth iteration and increased the total amount collected by the event to RM4.85 million (approximately US$1.2 million). The money will be channeled to The Exodus Road, a nonprofit organization that will train and equip 24 national local law enforcers and help fund 24,000 hours of investigation across 2,400 locations to support victims of human trafficking.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

 Self-proclaimed Thai philanthropist organizing anti-drug campaign arrested for drug trafficking charges. Kalyakorn Siriphatarasomboon, better known by her nickname as Jay Lin, was arrested in Phrae province in northern Thailand for drug trafficking charges. The police found and seized 1.6 million tablets of methamphetamine and 10 kilograms of crystal meth aboard a pickup truck which she was driving. The suspected drug trafficker had launched an anti-drug campaign among local teenagers, especially youth soccer players, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and donated money to impoverished people in the region, but the police suspected such charitable acts and events were merely a cover-up for her drug trafficking crimes.
Seoul city government-backed foundation accused of various corruption incidents and organizational malpractices by current and former employeesThe Seoul Digital Foundation, founded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and funded by its taxpayer money, was accused of various questionable practices by current and former employees. For one, the foundation’s chairman used a corporate card under the foundation 37 times—mostly on Friday nights—for personal meals near his apartment, totaling an amount of approximately US$2,719. In public audit hearings, the foundation’s chairman would resort to the excuse of funding security and cleaning staff’s meals. It was also revealed that the chairman used the corporate card to watch professional baseball games and to pay for meals and drinks at these games. Covering up and disguising these payments was considered a daily practice within the organization, as staffers were ordered to record fake meeting minutes.
Various side effects appear for Japan’s hometown tax donation (furusato nōzei) system. What was originally intended to be a system to encourage and incentivize individual giving to local governments turned out to be a tax loophole and a profitable trade in goods and services. Over the years, some local governments began offering gifts in return for donations. The law does not prohibit gift-giving, but in principle, items on offer should be produced in the area represented by the local government in question. However, more and more governments are offering expensive gifts that have no relation to their local industry or agriculture, with competition heating up to the degree that dozens of websites have appeared to help consumers choose among gifts that are available. Some have also pointed out how the system is particularly advantageous for the wealthy who pay higher residence taxes, as they can claim a part of their residence tax payment as a deductible donation.

Who’s Doing Good?

26 November 2018 - 2 December 2018

THE GIVERS

The fund led by Vincent Tan to prevent temple from demolition reaches RM2 million (US$480,000). Vincent Tan has cited Buddhist teachings and a sense of respect for places of worship common to Malaysians for championing the cause of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple which is marked for demolition. Through the fund, the land, measuring 0.5 hectares and valued at US$3.4 million, will be bought back from its developer. Tan’s initial pledge of RM500,000 (US$164,000) grew fourfold since the announcement, with contributions from other notable Malaysian high-net-worth individuals. Malaysians interested in contributing can choose from either traditional or electronic banking channels. Crowdfunding via social media has also been proposed. In 2011, Vincent Tan was featured on Forbes‘ “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” list for pledging to donate half of his life’s savings.

THE THINKERS

Pharmacists hold key to revolutionizing heathcare in Southeast Asia but oversight is crucial. Natalia Hendrickson argues that a variety of problems with formal healthcare systems in Asia—for example, long distances and steep costs—have spurred the prominence of pharmacists. But in the absence of formal training and data, complications with dosages and diagnoses are likely to emerge. Hendrickson hails the recent Electronic Drug and Safety System (eDSS) launched in the Philippines as an innovative solution. An average of 23 million pharmacy transactions and patient prescriptions are uploaded to a database in real-time through the application software each month. The Philippines Food and Drug Administration and mClinica, developers of the software, can tap into this rich data to identify and address issues in real-time.

Foundations constantly innovating with regards to impact investing to attract investors. Foundations, namely the Ford Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, are increasingly making use of innovative strategies to attract private investors to impact investing, states a podcast hosted by Knowledge@Wharton. One of such strategies is the creation of safety nets for investors. Roy Swan, Director of Mission-related Investments at the Ford Foundation, argues that during a downturn, sovereign wealth funds may not be able to guarantee a 25% return on market-rate housing, but the same money, invested in affordable housing during such a downturn, can be safely predicted to generate returns of about 8%. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, too, is experimenting with “blended finance,” which combines development finance and philanthropic funding.

THE NONPROFITS

Global health nonprofit, PATH, partners with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch key steps for HIV prevention. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services have been launched nationwide in Vietnam to help individuals at risk of HIV infection. By taking a pill every day, PrEP has been known to reduce the risk of infection by 92%. The nationwide roll-out of the service was preceded by pilots run in 2017 in collaboration with various nonprofit organizations. Vietnam is the second Asian economy to implement such a program after Thailand, which did so in August this year. The nonprofit organization at the center of this service, PATH, works to accelerate health equity through cross-sector collaborations.

Charity concert in Singapore raises SG$2 million (approximately US$1.5 million). In its 14th edition this year, the charity concert, ChildAid, involved over 140 participants aged five to 19 who sang and danced to help other children in need. The event was directed by Singaporean singer Dick Lee and involved revisiting pop music from the last 60 years. This year’s collection takes the total amount raised by the event since 2005 to SG$18 million (approximately US$13 million). Money raised by the event is channeled to The Straits Times’ School Pocket Money Fund and assists disadvantaged children with expenses such as food and transport.

THE BUSINESSES

J. Walter Thompson and Tata Pravesh release “The Positive Move” on World AIDS Day. The digital film chronicles the individual stories of HIV-positive teenagers who had to face social exclusion but refused to let that hinder them. The teenagers went onto start “Café Positive,” Asia’s first café run independently by HIV-positive staff members in Kolkata, India. A local nonprofit, Organization for Friends, Energies, and Resources (OFFER), supported the creation of the film. Speaking at the release of the film, Vijay Jacob Parakkal, senior vice president and managing partner at J. Walter Thompson, said, “We found the Café Positive story of grit, determination, and acceptance by people very touching. It does open our doors of perception.”

Nihon Kohden donates portion of sales proceeds to the American Epilepsy Society (AES). For the 10th consecutive year, Nihon Kohden, a major Japanese manufacturer of medical electronic equipment, has donated sales proceeds from one of its machines to the AES. This year’s donation takes the total amount donated by the manufacturer to the AES across the decade to over US$250,000. The AES has been allowed to fund research into significant areas such as the connection between epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries through these donations.

Dai-Ichi Life Insurance invests ¥100 million (approximately US$890,000) in Tokyo-based Molcure. In its seventh impact investment in 13 months, Japan’s third-largest insurance company, Dai-Ichi Life, has invested in Molcure, a Tokyo-based biotechnology firm. The firm is developing what will be the world’s first antibody discovery platform based on machine-learning. Pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to develop drugs that identify antibody candidates quicker. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance, which cited Molcure’s “positive social impact” as a motivator, is a pioneer in the impact investing space in Japan. Since October 2017, it has invested a total of ¥2.2 billion (approximately US$1.9 million) in seven impact investment deals.

THE INNOVATORS

Priyanka Chopra and Facebook come together for #SocialForGood. Actress and celebrity Priyanka Chopra and Facebook joined forces to host a live fundraising event to encourage individual donations for various social causes. Named #SocialForGood, the Live-athon event received 15,244 donations, which is more than a single donation per second, in four hours from more than 57 cities. Speaking about the event, Chopra said, “It was an amazing day, and I am overwhelmed by the support we have received not just from our panelists and performers, but also from all those who tuned into the Live-athon. The conversations were insightful and impactful, and what made the day a success was the number of donations received for each of these important causes. It showed that we care and that we can use #SocialForGood.”

The world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing raises US$1.5 million for solar energy business. Freyr Energy, an Indian solar solutions firm, has closed a US$1.5 million fundraising round through Impact Partners, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing. Impact Partners brought together a consortium of global investors, including the Netherlands-based C4D Partners and India-based angel investors. According to the Impact Investment Exchange’s assessment, funding will expand access to reliable and affordable solar energy to 2,275 households and 2,975 businesses, enable 675 off-grid rural villages to enjoy electricity for the first time through micro-grids, and avoid 167,270 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2022.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Indian Navy commander and captain win Asian of the Year award for Kerala flood rescue. Commander Vijay Varma and Captain P Rajkumar, both pilots, were honored at The Straits Times’ “Asian of the Year” awards for their death-defying rescue flying during the Kerala floods earlier this year. Varma, 42, winched up a heavily pregnant woman who gave birth just after being airlifted to safety, while Rajkumar, 54, rescued 26 people up from a rooftop in the port city of Kochi. A video of Varma’s rescuing of the pregnant woman went viral on social media.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Abraaj founder gets a lifeline amidst scandals and a good reputation tarnished. In recent months, Abraaj Group fell from being a respected US$14 billion impact investing powerhouse to a company offered a buyout of just US$1, additionally facing a scandal at a key lender. Facing a pressing liquidation demand from a Kuwaiti lender, Abraaj Group, fortunately, received an extension order from the Cayman court, so that it may devise a restructuring proposal over the next three months. The decision saves Abraaj investors from years of lawsuits and advisor fees. One investor said, “The fact that the court ruled in favor of an extension despite attempts to derail it means there is hope.” Had the court denied the request for a moratorium, Abraaj would have been forced to liquidate its assets at steeper discounts, seriously hurting creditor recoveries. Meanwhile, Abraaj founder, Arif Naqvi, is reported to have spent the last nine months talking to his biggest creditors, portfolio companies, and other stakeholders.