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?

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

19 November 2018 - 25 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Michael Bloomberg makes record US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, marking the largest contribution to a private educational institution in modern history. Michael Bloomberg’s donation has allowed his alma mater, one of the world’s leading private universities in the world, to adopt need-blind admissions forever. Bloomberg announced the donation through an opinion editorial for The New York Times in which he added that his own fortunate access to the university motivated him. As the son of a bookkeeper, it was only through a loan that he was able to afford the university’s elite education, Bloomberg wrote. For him, college education is a “great leveler” and providing an equality of opportunity to access it may be the best form of private social investment today.

Hyosung chairman Cho Hyun-joon supports rehabilitation program for families with disabled children. Hyosung executives and employees took a trip with the families of disabled children as part of a rehabilitation program in partnership with the Purme Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to support the independence and rehabilitation of disabled individuals. The effort follows six years of continued support by Cho for the rehabilitation of disabled children. By coming together as part of the initiative, families who otherwise find it hard to enjoy such trips were able to spend quality time outside their homes.

THE THINKERS

Asia inches closer to realizing its potential as wealthy investors actively pursue philanthropy. Asian High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) have hesitated to engage in philanthropy in the past due to a lack of clear regulations and lack of trust from scandals involving charities. This hesitation represents an enormous missed opportunity: Asian philanthropists are capable of giving eleven times more than the US$45.5 billion they give right now. However, recent cases of high-profile CEOs retiring to pursue philanthropy full-time provides hope. Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing are inspiring their peers in the region and could help Asia realize its true philanthropic potential.

Michael Bloomberg’s record-breaking donation does little for students most at risk, argues author. In the wake of Bloomberg’s recent US$1.8 billion donation to The Johns Hopkins University, Helaine Olen argues that the money could have been spent better. The recipient university admits only 10% of its undergraduate applicants, and only a tiny fraction are first-generation or minority students. Olen suggests Baruch College, a public institution, as a direct contrast that provides education to a significant number of low-income and minority students. However, recent budget cuts and declining official support for Baruch College have contributed to declining standards and infrastructure. Olen concludes that Bloomberg’s donation is situated within the trend of “top-heavy” philanthropy, whereby the giver’s own interests are the chief driver of such mega-donations.

Doing Good Index 2020 will ascertain effectiveness of Myanmar’s attempts to catalyze philanthropy. The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business has partnered with CAPS to study the country’s philanthropic ecosystem. Data collected from social delivery organizations and relevant experts will determine whether policy instruments have assisted in increasing philanthropic activity or streamlined processes for social delivery organizations. The study’s pan-Asian approach will allow Myanmar’s performance to be compared to that of its Asian peers, creating invaluable insights for stakeholders such as policymakers. Myanmar was found to be not doing enough to encourage philanthropy and charity in the index’s first iteration in 2018.

THE NONPROFITS

Tata Trusts and Tata Football Academy partner with Atlético Madrid to develop football in India. The Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organization, has partnered with the Spanish football giant to further its extensive youth development portfolio. The partnership will provide expert coaching to budding footballers and training on all aspects of football such as video analysis and strength training. Talented players will also partake in a residential program in Madrid, Spain. The Tata Trusts has been an active contributor to the global sport in India, managing over 80 training centers, producing 24 members who served as national team captains across different age groups, and boasting a winning record in various tournaments in the country.

THE BUSINESSES

India’s “solar gal pals” bring clean, renewable energy to rural homes and fight patriarchy. Indian social enterprise Frontier Markets is on a mission to promote the use of clean energy products. The social enterprise does so by placing women at the center, helping them receive training and serve as entrepreneurs who persuade families in remote villages to adopt solar energy. One of such “Solar Sahelis” (or “friends of solar power”), Bassi from Rajasthan is profiled in the story. Through her work with Frontier Markets, Bassi sells rugged solar torches to families, earning up to US$28 per month. This income has helped women such as Bassi to command greater share in household decisions amid a deeply patriarchal social fabric. To date, “Solar Sahelis” have earned more than US$2.5 million and reached over 500,000 homes.

THE INNOVATORS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with Japan Sports Agency to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The initiative named “Our Global Goals” will involve using the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a platform for raising awareness of the 17 SDGs listed by the United Nations. These goals cover areas such as education, climate change, poverty, economic development, and clean water. Speaking at a press conference, Bill Gates, co-chair, and trustee stated that the global love for sports can be channeled to develop interest in the challenges faced by the world. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are expected to attract over 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Support campaign for wartime sex victims led by fans of K-Pop band goes viral. Fans of the globally popular group, BTS, donated generously to help elderly Korean women who had been forced to serve as “comfort women” in World War II. Responding to a controversy involving a shirt worn by member Jimin, fans began channeling small individual donations to the House of Sharing, a shelter for wartime sexual slavery victims in Korea. The organic campaign spread largely over social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram and has led to donations totaling US$3,300 and counting in just a single weekend. The House of Sharing provides individual rooms to former “comfort women,” as well as three meals through the facility’s own restaurant. Ahn Shin-kwon, head of the shelter, said their organization was overwhelmed by the flurry of incoming donations.

Who’s Doing Good?

12 November 2018 - 18 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Forbes releases “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy,” shedding light on Asia’s leading do-gooders. In its twelfth iteration now, Forbes’ “2018 Heroes of Philanthropy” highlights entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities who have made considerable philanthropic contributions in the previous year. With a total of seven representatives on the 40-member list, India and China have produced the highest number of “heroes,” while Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia follow with three to four members each.

Elderly couple in Korea donates millions to Korea University to fund scholarships for students in need. Kim Yeong-seok and Yang Young-ae have decided to make a property donation worth ₩40 billion (US$35.3 million) to Korea University for funding need-based scholarships. After the announcement of their donation, many expressed their concern over whether the university might misuse the funds for its own gains, but university officials clearly stated that they will make sure the money goes to students in need. “All the income from the building will be used to give scholarships to students in need. We all know how hard it was for the couple to accumulate such wealth, which is why we will make sure that no penny goes to waste,” said Yoo Byung-hyun, vice president for development, external affairs, and capital planning at Korea University.

Singaporean university gets SG$4 million gift from late philanthropic couple. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is the latest institution to benefit from a late elderly couple who had donated millions of dollars to several charitable causes. The SG$4 million (approximately US$2.9 million) gift will help fund NTU’s development of teachers, with the introduction of scholarships for master’s degrees and grants for trainee teachers at the university’s National Institute of Education. The scholarships will be named after the couple: Mr. Ong Tiong Tat, 74, who died in 2013, and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, 73, who died in 2016.

THE THINKERS

Trust deficit to blame for the slow growth of Indonesia’s social sector. Billionaires in Indonesia continue to enjoy enormous growth in wealth in spite of economic downturns, but philanthropy, on the other hand, has not taken off, highlighted Ruth Shapiro, founder, and chief executive of CAPS. According to Shapiro, who spoke as a panelist at the Indonesia Philanthropy Festival, the trust deficit between givers and charitable organizations is primarily to blame. Unlike the private sector, the entire charitable sector is painted as corrupt in the wake of major public scandals, and a lack of purported transparency can often reflect capacity constraints and not actual corruption. Shapiro also stated that Indonesia’s unsupportive regulatory environment is an additional impediment.

THE NONPROFITS

Pakistani nonprofits face funding squeeze and delays in approvals as state paranoia peaks. According to the author, the Pakistani government, in its recent condemnation of the entire social sector, has failed to differentiate between legitimate social service providers and those involved in terrorism financing. For the government, nonprofits are increasingly viewed as fronts for international “agents” with “ulterior” motives. The ensuing clampdown has involved making it difficult for charities to access financing and to obtain government approvals for projects. This article paints a bleak picture for Pakistan and its social sector, as this tightening slows the country’s progress in core development areas such as education and health.

THE BUSINESSES

The Business Times releases “Champions of Good 2018.” Through a seven-part series, The Business Times spotlights best practices in volunteering and philanthropy from Singapore. Some of the areas covered by this wide-ranging series include CSR programs which tap into companies’ skills and resources to drive change and impact measurement as a tool to learn and refine social work. Across these seven articles, a myriad of organizations—mostly corporate, as well as nonprofits—are studied and showcased as role-model examples of doing good.

UNIQLO partners with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop to support refugees. Under this proposed partnership, customers at UNIQLO outlets will be able to shop for “Cards for Hope,” which are special greeting cards that feature artwork by Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. All proceeds will be channeled towards the Sesame Workshop and IRC’s early childhood development programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Promotional campaigns seeking to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian crises surrounding refugees will also be conducted through drawing workshops at UNIQLO outlets participated by elementary school groups and Sesame Street characters.

THE INNOVATORS

Alipay launches “Social Innovation Challenge” in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise. The initiative seeks to attract, promote, and support digital technology innovations geared towards social good in Southeast Asia. As part of the challenge, individual innovators and entrepreneurs will receive up to SG$50,000 (approximately US$36,000), as well as a complete suite of support services from mentoring to acquiring access to potential investors. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of Asia’s leading universities, have committed in a joint effort to tap into their rich networks and share their resources in order to support aspiring entrepreneurs focused on creating positive social impact. 

Hong Kong Tatler lists five impact funds and ventures that contribute to social well-being. First, on the list, The Rise Fund was setup by TPG, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The fund is worth US$2 billion and makes investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy. Hong Kong Tatler also features a sustainable rubber plantation in Indonesia worth US$95 million and owned by Michelin and Indonesia’s Barito Group. Responsible meat producers such as Impossible Foods and companies in the electric vehicle sector also made the cut.

THE VOLUNTEERS 

Japanese teen volunteers and funds library in Cambodia. Miyu Ozawa, now 16, saved every New Year’s gift money and decided to use the collected funds for a good cause. Having spent her spring vacation following her graduation from junior high school, she worked as a volunteer on a 10-day tour in Cambodia, where she helped with classes at a primary school. After returning to Japan, Ozawa began thinking about building a library in Cambodia because it appeared that while the country had schools, it did not have enough teachers or teaching materials. “Books will give you a first step for studying on your own,” said Ozawa.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Arrest of fake Chinese monk in Myanmar highlights the increase in sham begging. Ashin Dhamma Rakhita, associated with the Guan Yin San Tart Pain Temple in Yangon, Myanmar, has stated and clarified that monks do not and should not engage in commercial activities or ask for donations. In recent days, individuals in the garb of monks have appeared in markets, schools, and restaurants in Yangon, publicly asking for donations and selling beads. Videos on social media of their activities have also been doing the rounds. As a result, authorities have arrested one such trickster, while a few have returned to China.

Who’s Doing Good?

29 October 2018 - 4 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Korean star soccer player Son donates to the military before Asian Games win. Son Heung-min, a professional soccer player who plays for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and who captains the Korean national team, donated around £70,000 (approximately US$90,100) to his country’s armed forces prior to the victory in this year’s Asian Games, which allowed him to be exempted from Korea’s mandatory military service. “Son Heung-min called us by himself saying he’d like to make a donation for Korean soldiers and their families,” Kookbang Ilbo, the army’s official daily newspaper, revealed.

THE THINKERS

Indonesia tops the World Giving Index 2018. Through a survey of over 150,000 people in 146 countries, this year’s World Giving Index by the Charities Aid Foundation places Indonesia as the most generous country, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Singapore and Myanmar are Asia’s other representatives in the Index’s top ten at seventh and ninth, respectively. Termed as “quite remarkable,” Singapore turned around its poor showing in previous versions of the Index, jumping 23 spots from its standing in 2017, a change led primarily by increased volunteering. Myanmar had topped the Index in 2017, and Indonesia was placed second.

THE NONPROFITS

BTS’ UNICEF “Love Myself” campaign raises over US$1.4 million. Last year, BTS, a globally popular K-Pop group, teamed up with UNICEF Korea for their “Love Myself” anti-violence campaign, and it was recently revealed that the initiative had raised over US$1.4 million. “In the year since UNICEF and BTS joined together to eradicate violence against children, we have raised over ₩1.6 billion,” said UNICEF Korea in a statement.

Hong Kong nonprofit raises US$2 million for the Philippines’ poorest. Through a number of auctions and activities held in Hong Kong as part of the “Stepping Free from Poverty” banquet, the International Care Ministries (ICM) managed to raise US$2 million. Founded in 1992, the ICM is the brainchild of interior designer Sharon Tang. The Hong Kong charity provided training and resources to its one millionth family this year, and the money raised will be utilized to bring the next million out of extreme poverty. 

THE BUSINESSES

India’s CSR funding set to reach Rs20,000 crore. CSR funding in India is poised to grow to Rs20,000 crore (approximately US$274.9 million) over the next three years. That is the estimate made in a new report by the Indian School of Development Management in association with Sattva Consulting which also says CSR funding has been growing at the rate of 9% per year. With 33 lakh nonprofit institutions employing over 1.82 crore individuals, supported by contributions from funders, enabling organizations, the government, and businesses, India’s development sector is one of the largest and most active social economies in the world. It also has a huge potential to become an aspiring and mainstream career option for India’s young leaders and managers.

12,000 Samsung employees participate in the company’s Global Volunteer Month. Each year in October, Samsung employees all over the world look to give back through volunteering and community engagement. This year, across regions and countries such as the United States, Latin America, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, China, Myanmar, and Thailand, a total of 12,000 volunteers engaged in the program and contributed to diverse areas such as education, immigrant integration, school refurbishments, and cyberbullying among others.

THE INNOVATORS

Blockchain-based plastic recycling centers in Indonesia. Plastic Bank recently partnered with SC Johnson to open plastic recycling centers across Indonesia. Recent scientific data revealed that Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are responsible for more than 55% of the plastic waste found in the ocean. The organization plans to open eight plastic waste collection centers across Indonesia by May 2019. The program aims to act as a means of income for the local waste collectors who live below the poverty line and also to encourage recycling. The collectors can bring the plastic they collect to the center and receive digital tokens in exchange.

THE VOLUNTEERS

President of Singapore promises more opportunities for senior volunteers. President Halimah Yacob announced yesterday that the newly appointed National Centre of Excellence in Senior Volunteerism, RSVP Singapore, will reach out to more of those in their mid-50 and 60’s to encourage them to volunteer with local charities and other organizations such as hospitals. Currently, about 60% of the organization’s 2,500 senior volunteers are in their mid-50 and 60’s. The organization will tailor its programs to suit the group of volunteers. “Some are likely to be IT savvy, higher educated, and have a stable income…, so we need to curate different programs to suit them,” said chairman Koh Juay Meng.

Empress Michiko’s proactive involvement in society. The article spotlights Japanese Empress Michiko’s contributions to society and passion for helping the disadvantaged. From promoting Braille translations of music to serving as the honorary president of the Japanese Red Cross Society, Empress Michiko has gradually expanded her commitment to society. Her involvement in society is part of the Japanese royal family’s often publicly stated role of acting as the symbol of the state and unity of the Japanese people.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS 

Chinese Apple Watch supplier under fire for “forcing students to work like robots.” Apple is investigating a factory in Southwest China after a labor rights group claimed that the technology giant’s supplier forced student workers to work “like robots” to assemble the Apple Watch. The Chongqing factory is operated by Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. According to an investigation by the Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), many were forced to work to get their vocational degrees and had to do night shifts. These students were made to work under the guise of an internship. “Our graduation certificate will be withheld by the school if we refuse to come,” said one student majoring in e-commerce, according to SACOM.

Who’s Doing Good?

22 October 2018 - 28 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo donates RMB 200 Million to Tsinghua University. One of the richest businessmen in Hong Kong and chairman of the K.Wah Group, Lui Che-woo has donated RMB 200 million (approximately US$28 million) to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, to establish the Biomedical Sciences Building. The building is planned to enhance the university’s teaching and research capabilities, as well as house leading medical research centers, including the National Centre for Protein Science.

Hong Kong billionaire and alumni to match all donations to Hong Kong scholarships. Billionaire and chairman and CEO of Melco International and Melco Crown Entertainment, Lawrence Ho and his sister, Daisy Ho, who are both alumni of the school, have pledged to match every donation received by the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation in a new initiative called HK Match and help expand its existing scholarship program so that it fully covers tuition and living costs.

THE THINKERS

Proposed changes to India’s CSR laws could deplete motivation. As the world’s only economy with mandatory CSR, India is expected to collect upwards of Rs50,000 crore (approximately US$7 billion) from corporations by March 2019. But recent amendments have “hardened” the law, argues Shashwat DC. The author suggests corporations could turn away and treat CSR as a mere requirement. Grassroots beneficiaries, he adds, stand to lose out most as corporations may re-center towards low-hanging, low-impact contributions in their CSR approaches.

Private sector’s push in higher education and ease in regulation necessary says vice-chancellor of India’s rising university. Professor C. Raj Kumar, a former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and the founding vice-chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), has cited government regulations and lack of attention to research among Indian private universities as important contributors to India’s struggle in global university rankings. His remarks came as JGU, established in 2009, broke into the 2019 QS Asia University Rankings. 

THE NONPROFITS 

Group of eight corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and individuals win President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards in Singapore. Launched in 2012, the annual President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards honor individuals, companies, ground-up movements, nonprofits, and educational institutions who give back to the community. The winners for 2018 were picked from nearly 100 nominations. Notable corporate and academic winners include Citi Singapore and the National University of Singapore. Assisi Hospice was chosen as the nonprofit winner for providing end-of-life care as a health-oriented nonprofit organization. President Halimah Yacob said, “I’m heartened that this year’s winners include firms that made giving an integral part of their corporate culture, as well as individuals who are passionate in helping those around them.”

Opportunities for Indian women grow as social and economic restrictions are addressed. This brief case study notes an increasing focus towards women in India, the participation of whom is seen as central to sustaining the Indian economy. Through a handful of profiles including that of a former expat now turned entrepreneur running Asia’s first commercial biobank and Katalyst, an initiative helping women from low-income communities, JPMorgan Chase presents an optimistic outlook for women in India.

THE BUSINESSES 

Sustainable exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry to be worth over US$400 billion by 2030, says BlackRock chairman. Larry Fink, chairman of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, expects sustainability to form the core of all investments made in the future. Following the announcement of the plan to launch six Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)-screened ETFs in Europe, Fink also opined that rates of returns on social investments would also outpace those on traditional investments. However, BlackRock was the subject of protests in September during which the company was alleged to be the largest owner of fossil fuels companies and hence “failing to walk the talk.” 

THE INNOVATORS

Binance releases 2018 donation report for West Japan disaster. Having delivered cryptocurrency donations to flood victims in West Japan via its Blockchain Charity Foundation, Binance has released its 2018 donation report. The Blockchain Charity Foundation and other external donors sent in around a total cryptocurrency amount worth US$1,410,000. With these funds, over 41,000 individuals in three prefectures received medicine, shelter, and other resources.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Malaysian university students raise funds and volunteers to help those in need. Organized by students of KDU Penang University College, the Technicolor Festival brought the student community together to raise funds and conduct volunteering activities for those in need. Students raised RM138,000 (approximately US$33,000), as well as collaborating with the Penang Social Welfare Department to help underprivileged families. Dr. Chong Beng Keok, the university’s vice chancellor, commented, “It is about different communities coming together and a platform for them to showcase their creativity, talents, and skills. This festival is not only to celebrate culture but the proceeds will also be channeled to the underprivileged.” 

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister faces six new corruption charges. A Malaysian court on Thursday charged former Prime Minister Najib Razak with six new corruption charges in relation to alleged embezzlement involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. The new charges were added to the existing 32 cases of corruption against him in regards to the 1MDB fund. Former Prime Minister Razak denied the allegations, claiming that the money was a donation from a Saudi Arabian prince and that he was cleared by Malaysian authorities during his time as Prime Minister.

Who’s Doing Good?

15 October 2018 - 21 October 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese Americans’ contributions to and role in the United States philanthropic landscape grow. The article mentions recent trends in philanthropic giving among high-net-worth Chinese Americans and features individual philanthropists as case studies. From the Huntington Library’s Chinese garden, which received gifts of US$10,000 or more from 400 Chinese American families and those of US$1 million or more from 20 Chinese American individuals, to a 418% increase in the number of Chinese American foundations between 2000 and 2014, Chinese American philanthropy is clearly shown to be on the rise. In recent days, Chinese American philanthropists have adopted new innovations in giving, including impact investing, as well as giving back more to their home countries. “Chinese Americans are now proud of ascendant China and want to support the institutions that make it both in education and culturally a powerhouse,” said Randy Shulman, vice president for advancement at the Huntington Library.

THE THINKERS

“Getting the Best Possible Failures in Philanthropy: What constitutes ‘good’ failures in philanthropy, and how can we have more of them?” In this article, Jen Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation, suggests that “not all failures are created equal” and that there needs to be another element added to our standard practice in philanthropy: “failure optimization planning.” In other words, “how can we design our strategies so that if they do fail, they will be good failures?” Three ways that a failure can be “good” include: “1) contribute knowledge to the field, 2) have a significant, positive, but unintended consequence, or 3) increase the capacity of all involved to try other approaches.”

Making bequests to nonprofit organizations rise in Japan as a new way of giving back to society. The recent trend appears to be fueled by the growing number of people living alone and heightened interest in preparations for the end of one’s life. It is also important to consider the fact that in Japan if there is no one to inherit an estate, it goes into the state coffers, so it has naturally become more popular among aged individuals living alone to consider giving back to charities of their choice. The potential for bequests is expected to be greater and greater, as time passes. According to the Cabinet Office, there were about 5.9 million households in which a person aged 65 or older lived alone in 2015. The figure is estimated to reach about 7.6 million in 2035.

THE NONPROFITS

Aid to 11 million at risk as Pakistani intelligence force 18 charities to close operations. Amidst the Pakistani government’s recent decision to inform 18 foreign nonprofit organizations to close down their operations in the country, it has been claimed that Pakistan risks losing at least £100 million (approximately US$130.6 million) worth of aid for 11 million citizens in need. The expelled organizations also directly employ more than 1,100 staff in Pakistan. According to the article, it is thought that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government made the decision under pressure from Pakistan’s powerful military spy agency which has accused foreign aid organizations of being a front for espionage. “We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children the organization is currently supporting, as well as our own staff—who are all Pakistani nationals,” said a spokeswoman for Plan International.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com’s green initiative for sustainable consumption. JD.com, China’s largest retailer, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and The China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) are partnering to launch a second annual Green Planet-Sustainable Week, raising awareness about sustainable consumption in China. JD.com plans to promote reusable shopping bags created from the fabric of discarded apparel in response to a call from the WWF to reduce pollution caused by plastics. Customers will also be able to trade in major appliances for recycling by third-party companies through JD.com’s platform. “The spectacular rise of Chinese consumption has been a major force behind the country’s incredible economic story, but has also contributed to unprecedented environmental challenges,” said Zhonghao Jin, head of market practice at WWF China. He believes this week’s activities will help “raise consumer awareness and accelerate the mainstreaming of sustainable consumption.” 

THE INNOVATORS  

A skincare social enterprise is changing the lives of women and girls in rural India. Anju Rupal, the founder of the ethically minded, charitably driven beauty brand Abhati Suisse, is an “aesthetic activist.” Before launching her company, Rupal helped run a shelter for victims of domestic violence, founded a children’s clinic in Switzerland, and created a reforestation nonprofit. During her time at the reforestation nonprofit, she identified a business opportunity to produce organic beauty items that would also help address the issue of gender inequality in India. Working with the beauty industry’s top chemists in Switzerland, Abhati Suisse utilizes locally harvested ingredients from India to produce organic beauty products, whose sales are then used to help send women and girls in India to schools. To date, Abhati Suisse has helped more than 120,000 girls.

Unilever Philippines combines e-commerce and philanthropy to help children in need. Initiated by Unilever Philippines, Shop2Give is a one-day shopping event on Lazada. On this special day of giving back to society, product illustrations on the e-commerce platform were changed into quirky illustrations reminiscent of children’s doodles, and every purchase went towards Shop2Give’s beneficiaries, which was further matched by Unilever Philippines as a donation to UNICEF.

Indian Prime Minister to unveil a CSR portal on October 24, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a portal for CSR and volunteering in an ambitious bid to consolidate such efforts to maximize their effect and help boost the government’s initiatives. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is making hectic preparations for the launch of the portal, which is being developed by MyGov and will host CSR activities that have already been kicked off. The idea is to create a resource pool and find a way to “harmonize efforts,” not just across companies, but also to “align” them with the priorities of the government in areas such as the Skill India, Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, and Swachh Bharat campaigns, said a person aware of the development.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Korean nonprofit head leads volunteer activity in Vietnam for 12 years. Global Friends began its volunteer work in 2006 to help bereaved family members of the Vietnamese War. Choi Kyou-take, founder of this organization, has since led volunteer medical services, offered scholarships, and donated personal computers to rural communities in Vietnam. “Global Friends isn’t a large charity group, but has conducted volunteer activity for more than 10 years in the Southeast Asian country, Choi told The Korea Times, adding, “Not many charity groups in Korea volunteer in a certain country for more than 10 years.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia claims trial to 45 charges. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and carried out investigations over alleged abuse of funds linked to his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, as well as another probe related to 1MDB over a meeting with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family. Zahid claimed trial on October 19 to 45 charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering involving some RM114 million (approximately US$27.4 million). One of the charges is believed to be related to claims that RM800,000 of funds from Zahid’s charity had been used to pay for his and his wife’s credit card bills between 2014 and 2015.

British government to fund a global register of sex offenders in the charitable sector. Following the Oxfam abuse scandal, where volunteers sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the British government has announced its decision to launch a global register of suspected sexual predators to crack down on abuse in the foreign aid sector. Named “Soteria” after the Greek goddess of protection, the register will be funded by £2 million (approximately US$2.6 million) of British aid money. The five-year program will operate from two hubs in Africa and Asia and allow charities to check the criminal records of existing and future employees. Interpol, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office, and the Department for International Development will work together on the database, which will issue international alerts if someone is deemed to be a threat to public safety.

Who’s Doing Good?

24 September 2018 - 30 September 2018

THE GIVERS

Chinese entrepreneur donates US$5 million for blockchain research. Feng Han, co-founder of the blockchain company Elastos, has donated US$5 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish the university’s blockchain research wing. The “Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) Blockchain Pillar and Activities Fund” will foster the development of a diverse range of blockchain projects, connecting emerging talent with thought leaders in the industry. “I am excited to facilitate the development of blockchain ecosystems through partnerships with organizations and universities, similar to MIT,” said Feng. “Leaders throughout the blockchain landscape should seize opportunities to support research and development of the industry, to ensure it matures in a regulatory compliant, transparent, and responsible manner. This is not the last incubator that I hope to establish to shape the parameters of a healthy blockchain ecosystem.”

Singaporean university receives SG$9 million (approximately US$6.5 million) to attract top young Swedish scientists. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the largest private financier of research in Sweden, is making a SG$9 million cash donation to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to establish a new postdoctoral fellowship program to support up to 40 fellows over the next six years. Through the fellowship, some of Sweden’s most outstanding young scientists will spend two years at the Singaporean university to conduct postdoctoral research. “We are deeply grateful to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, whose new generous gift comes after their SG$12.6 million donation to NTU just three months ago. The Wallenberg family is known for their passion for cutting-edge research and technologies, and NTU is privileged to be one of only three international universities to benefit from the Wallenberg Foundation’s recognition and support,” said Professor Subra Suresh, president of NTU.

THE THINKERS

China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) hosts the Global Social Finance Forum (GSFF) in Shenzhen. On September 21, 2018, the CGPI hosted the second GSFF in Shenzhen, China, under the guidance of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Futian District People’s Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and China International Center for Economic & Technical Exchange (CICETE). The theme of this year’s GSFF was “Social Investing as a Force for Good, and leaders in social finance and impact investing were invited as guests and participants.

THE NONPROFITS

Hong Kong charity diverts annual mooncake waste. The Chinese tradition of exchanging boxes of mooncakes with friends and family during the Mid-Autumn Festival is now a staggering US$2 billion international industry. However, most are leftovers from manufacturers who overproduced in an attempt to cash in on the tradition. More than two million mooncakes, valued at least US$12.8 million, will be thrown out in Hong Kong alone after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Food Grace, a local charity, collected the leftovers this holiday season to redistribute them to low-income families and individuals. Convincing individuals, however, to donate their mooncakes is still taking time to catch on, according to Conrad Tsang, a project officer at the charity. “We have to educate and encourage them [to donate] and that [even if] you are not sending a mooncake as a gift, [it] does not harm your relationship with your partners or with your employees,” said Casey Ng, founder of Food Grace.

THE BUSINESSES

Indian companies’ CSR spending to depend only on previous year’s profit. India’s 2013 CSR law mandates that companies must spend 2% of their three-year average annual net profit towards a social cause. The amended law that came into effect on September 19 of this year states that companies will have to consider only their previous year’s net profit. A recent study of 1,186 eligible and listed companies by CRISIL, a credit rating agency, showed that over the past two financial years the amount spent on CSR surged at a compound annual growth rate of 14%, despite a lukewarm 5% growth in net profit.

Samsung extends helping hand during major national holiday. During Chuseok, one of Korea’s largest holidays, Samsung employees carried out various volunteer activities to provide assistance to residents in need of help. Along with the Korean Red Cross, Samsung employees delivered groceries to senior citizens and other residents in need for three weeks. They visited 780 social welfare facilities, including a children’s center, senior’s welfare center, and support center for migrant workers.

THE INNOVATORS

Using online platforms to help Palu earthquake victims in Indonesia. On September 28, 2018, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, Donggala, and Mamuju in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, claiming 832 lives (as of yesterday) and injuring many others. The Jakarta Post has highlighted different ways that people can help through donations. Notably, Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding website, and Tokopedia, an e-commerce platform with various donation channels (such as Donasi Palu), were featured. Both platforms have been recognized by the publisher for their transparency and accountability.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Miss Nepal on a social mission. Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Miss Nepal 2018, is on a mission to contribute to society after her coronation in April. In an effort to address post-earthquake reconstruction, she is building health posts in rural villages and raising funds in London for this cause. As a former architecture student, she is exploring the concept of healing by architectural design. “This is just the beginning of my work in philanthropy and architecture. Eventually, I want to use my fame to build more of what Nepal needs, whether it is health posts in remote areas or schools and homes in disaster zones,” she said.

Japanese firms prepare for large-scale volunteering during 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has started its search for 80,000 volunteers on Wednesday. Major companies in Japan are encouraging employees to volunteer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Many are even sending employees in order to show their support. Brokerage giant Nomura Holdings Inc., for example, has picked 300 employees through an internal application process to volunteer for the 2020 Games.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Website duplicates Giving.sg campaigns; site admin apologizes, says it was a mistake. A website has been found falsely canvassing donations for various fundraising campaigns that were originally posted on the national giving portal Giving.sg, which is managed by the National Volunteering and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The campaigns’ webpages indicated that they had garnered Nepalese Rs. 17,290 (approximately US$147) in donations. The website, Giving Nepal, claims to have posted the design mock-ups online by mistake and that no funds were actually collected. The NVPC clarified that Giving.sg is still a safe and secure online platform that has not been affected by any security breach. It also said that none of its donors’ information has been leaked.

Singaporean watchdog body introduces transparency guide for charities. The Commissioner of Charities (COC) introduced a new Visibility Guide framework to help charitable organizations be in a better position to present their financial information, use of donations, and activities. The framework by the COC not only helps charities put out key information to its stakeholders in a simple manner, but it also guides donors on each charity’s causes and impact. The framework was introduced together with an annual report template for nonprofit organizations. To encourage more giving, trust is crucial, and to build trust, good governance is necessary, said the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who also launched the framework during the 2018 Charity Governance Conference.

Who’s Doing Good?

10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

THE GIVERS

University in Hong Kong gets HK$100 million in donations for a smart city and sustainable energy research. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been given a generous donation of HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) from Otto Poon, a graduate of the university and chairman of ATAL Engineering Group, for a smart city and sustainable energy research. The gift was made under the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation and represents the largest personal donation to the university in the past decade. The funds will be used for the establishment of two research institutes and two professorships.

Jeff Bezos creates new philanthropy: the Bezos Day One Fund. Via Twitter, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shared a statement announcing the creation of his new charitable organization: the Bezos Day One Fund. Through the fund, Bezos will initially invest US$2 billion of his US$150 billion into existing homelessness charities and in the development of early childhood education centers.

THE THINKERS

Conglomerate research firm finds Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed social contributions by 14.5% in two years. Following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s top 10 conglomerates slashed their charitable donations by 14.5% in the past two years. Total contributions made by the likes of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, and Lotte stood at a little over ₩838.1 billion (approximately US$743.1 million) in 2017, down ₩124.9 billion (approximately US$110.7 million) or a drop of 13% from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent a total of ₩980.2 billion (approximately US$868.76 million) on donations. “Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble,” said the local tracker of large conglomerates.

THE NONPROFITS

More social service organizations in Singapore go cashless for fundraising. In line with an increasing societal trend to rely on cashless forms of payment, individuals can now donate to charities with a few taps on their mobile phones, and Singaporean charities are tapping into this new fundraising opportunity. Since May 2018, 73 organizations have been actively using cashless payment technologies, according to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). NCSS’ deputy CEO, De. Fermin Diez, said, “With more Singaporeans carrying less cash, social service organizations need to be more innovative about raising funds through contactless donation technology. Otherwise, they could face a decline in donations if only cash was accepted.” Diez also added that the benefits of cashless fundraising are reduced administration costs, better governance, tighter security, and improved donation tracking.

THE BUSINESSES

BloombergQuint identifies India’s most and least philanthropic large companies. According to BloombergQuint, about a fifth of Nifty 50 companies failed to spend the minimum required on CSR for the fourth straight year. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. was the most generous in the 2017-2018 financial year, spending nearly 10% of its average three-year net profit on CSR. Following Vedanta Ltd. were UPL Ltd. and state-owned Coal India Ltd. Notably, Dilip Shanghvi-controlled Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. were the only two Nifty 50 companies that contributed towards CSR despite reporting losses.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs awards Infinitus the China Charity Award. The China Charity Award is the highest level of recognition for philanthropy in China from a government authority. Infinitus was recently honored with this award for its continuing contributions to society and its longstanding commitment to CSR. In 2016, Infinitus kicked off a volunteer project and set up the Infinitus Volunteers Association. To date, the association has had more than 6,000 individual volunteers, organized 230 volunteering events, and accumulated more than 27,000 hours of volunteer work.

THE INNOVATORS

Chinese government to use blockchain technology for tracking charitable donations by 2019. In order to increase transparency of public donations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in charge of social services and the broader social sector, is planning to adopt blockchain technology for an upgrade of its current charity tracking system. The plan dictates that the existing government charity databases will be integrated into the new blockchain network. In this way, data on charitable donations made through a variety of services will become visible to the public faster using a distributed network.

Philanthropic foundations launch US$11 million impact bonds to improve education in India. The largest development impact bond (DIB) has been launched by the UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The bond promises to improve the educational outcome of 300,000 students in Delhi and Gujarat. A DIB is not a money market instrument. Risk investors put money to roll out a program in order to address a cause. They earn a return if the program is successful. “This landmark financial instrument applies an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy… If the potential of this type of funding is unleashed, it could improve the lives of generations to come,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. 

THE VOLUNTEERS

Divers volunteer as “gardeners” to restore dying corals in Thailand. It is widely known that coral reefs are in danger due to climate change. A group of divers is trying to tackle this environmental problem in Koh Ha, Thailand. Inspired by reforestation techniques employed in tropical forests, conservationist Anuar Abdullah began research into how those same methods might be applied to coral reefs, which are often referred to as “underwater rainforests.” Eventually, the solution of coral gardening was devised, growing corals in nurseries and then replanting them on reefs. Anuar also founded Ocean Quest, a conservation organization that organizes courses at dive schools and resorts in Southeast Asia. To date, the organization has certified more than 800 trainers and 1,000 coral gardeners.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

In response to potential cases of fraud, Singaporean crowdfunding website offers “donation back guarantee.” The Raye of Hope Initiative, a crowdfunding website based in Singapore, recently announced it would start the “donation back guarantee” in cases of fraudulent fundraising projects. The move came after the Commissioner of Charities launched a campaign last Friday to get donors to do more checks before giving. The website has had more than 170 fundraising projects. “We need to give donors the confidence that they are giving to people who genuinely need help and depend on crowdfunding to tide them over a difficult period,” said Tan En, director of the crowdfunding website.

Japan to reform “hometown tax donation” program to address excessive competition among local governments to provide expensive gift incentives. The furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system was originally introduced in 2008 to ease the disparity in tax revenue between urban and rural areas by incentivizing individual giving to local governments. The government said Tuesday it will reform this system in order to curb extravagant gift incentives from local governments, as the system has led to fierce competition among local governments to lure donations with expensive gifts that are excessive in price and that are oftentimes not locally produced. As such, the government is specifically considering to limit gifts to those produced locally and keep their value below 30% of donations.