Who’s Doing Good?

5 February 2018 - 11 February 2018

This weekly brief is a one-stop shop for selectively curated news on “doing good.” From mega-donations and CSR to nonprofits and social enterprises, “Who’s Doing Good?” keeps you up-to-date with the ever-bustling market of philanthropy and charity in Asia.


Chinese home appliance-maker’s founder tops the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists for the first time. He Xiangjian, founder of Midea Group Co., Ltd., donated 6.8 billion yuan (US$1.09 billion) to charity last year, topping for the first time the list of China’s top 100 philanthropists published by Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute. According to the same report, the top 100 givers in China donated a total of 23.3 billion yuan (US$3.68 billion). In comparison, the top 50 givers in the United States donated US$12.2 billion to charity in 2016.

In the wake of the Hualien earthquake, donations from Taiwanese philanthropists pour in. Including those from ultra-high-net-worth philanthropists, total donations (as of February 8, 2018) to disaster relief funds for people affected by the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, is reported to have exceeded NT$600 million (US$20.42 million). List of notable companies and organizations includes: Hon Hai Precision Industry, Formosa Plastics Group, Lin Rung San Foundation of Culture and Social Welfare, Union Bank of Taiwan, Pegatron, and Fubon Financial Holding.

Prince Charles launches education impact bond for India. With the support of the British government’s Department for International Development, Comic Relief, the Mittal Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and philanthropists like Sir Ronald Cohen, the US$10 million Development Impact Bond (DIB) aspires to help improve education for over 200,000 children in India. The DIB is the largest bond of its type in South Asia and is the latest fundraising initiative by the British Asian Trust, which was set up by Prince Charles in 2007 to fight poverty in South Asia.


SK plans to launch research unit on social enterprises. In March, the South Korean conglomerate will establish and fund a nonprofit research foundation on issues relating to social enterprises. Chey Tae-won, Chairman of the SK Group, has been a longtime supporter of social enterprises in Korea.


Doctor and his healthcare charity win the The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award. Dr. Goh Wei Leong and his team have been named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year, an award organized by The Straits Times and sponsored by UBS Singapore. Dr. Goh co-founded HealthServe, a healthcare charity in Singapore that provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare and other social services.


Hyundai Motor supports the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics by providing 4,100 vehicles and ₩50 billion (US$46.95 million) donation. On top of the logistical and financial contributions it has made to PyeongChang, Hyundai has been an active supporter of winter sports in Korea, developing upgraded bobsleighs and providing coaching staff for the country’s national team.


Grab and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) join forces to raise funds for supporting vulnerable communities. Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading on-demand transportation and mobile payments platform, and its customers will now be able to convert GrabRewards loyalty points to a donation to the IFRC. Such partnership is the IFRC’s first fundraising initiative globally to use a smartphone application.

The Tata Trusts launches the “Social Alpha Energy Challenge” to find high-impact innovations that could catalyze system change in the field of energy. The challenge is managed and run by the Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), which supports innovative, technology-based solutions for social impact. It specifically focuses on clean technology, sustainability, and energy efficiency and will select a maximum of 10 winners, whose ideas will receive incubation and other forms of support from the Tata Trusts.


Charity and volunteerism help fight aftermath of the Hualien earthquake in Taiwan. On top of the reported total of NT$600 million (US$20.42 million) in charitable donations, many are offering to help as volunteers utilizing their resources and skills. Hsu Tang-yu from Taichung, for example, showed up in Hualien to provide rescue workers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart, while a team of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners set up a station to treat rescue workers’ back pain and sore muscles.


A Hong Kong millionaire’s bribery case in Africa shows another incident where a donation and NGO status are abused as a bribery vehicle. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary and founding chairman of an energy NGO registered in Hong Kong and the United States, was alleged to have drafted a letter to the President of Chad expressing a Chinese company’s desire to make a US$2 million “donation” to support “social and other programs as [the President] see[s] fit.” Ho’s bail application and request to be put under house arrest were rejected.

The Business of Green

Society of Ecology & Entrepreneurs (SEE): Creating the conditions for environmental philanthropy to thrive

A community of like-minded business leaders joined forces to fight deforestation and drive forward China’s environmental movement.

“It started with planting trees,” said Zhang Li, the current secretary general of SEE Foundation. The original aim of the association was to mobilise the resources of China’s newly rich entrepreneurs to take on the problem of desertification in the Alashan Region.

But this would be merely the opening act of an organization that grew into a national network of nearly 600 entrepreneur members, including high-profile figures from the real estate, construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors. SEE’s members would come to include some of China’s most successful and prolific corporate faces, including Wang Shi, chairman of Vanke, the world’s largest real estate developer; Feng Lun, chairman of real estate leader Vantone Holdings; Chen Dongsheng, chairman of Taikang Life Insurance; and Pan Shiyi, chairman of property company SOHO China. The work of the organization would expand to include support for national ecosystem conservation and nature education, green supply chains, pollution prevention, and development of China’s grassroots environmental NGOs.

Evolution and Revolution

Telapak: Seeking Natural Resource Justice for Communities

From investigative journalism to sustainable logging — and now advising the world’s largest companies on community engagement — Telapak has been unwavering in its mission for an environmentally conscious Indonesia.

Telapak began life as a group of young activists, conducting investigations on illegal
logging activities and raising awareness of the detrimental effects on the environment and local communities. Over the years, Telapak has shifted from investigating environmental and social injustice toward finding solutions. “History has shown us that investigation and criticizing the government alone is not enough,” said Zaini. “So we now have to become part of the solution.” This pivot has paid off for Telapak, which has since assisted the development of dozens of sustainable logging cooperatives, and it has implemented numerous development projects to help communities protect and benefit from their environmental resources.

Landwasher: Guardian of the Blue Earth

Leveraging business solutions for environmental impact in China

Recognizing the severity of the environmental challenges facing China, investor-turned-entrepreneur Hao Wu set up an environmental enterprise for waterless toilet solutions to directly address issues of water scarcity, sanitation and hygiene.

Under Wu’s leadership, Landwasher has become China’s top waterless toilet-solution provider, growing from a team of three to a RMB 60 million (around US$10 million) company employing some 160 people by 2013. Landwasher has so far installed more than 10,000 of its toilets across the country, posting average annual revenues of RMB 40 million (around US$7 million), making it China’s market leader in environmental toilets. The environmental value of its waterless toilets has been at the heart of Landwasher’s mission from its inception, which according to Wu, has helped to differentiate the product from the competition.

Changing Lives with the Gift of Water

Lien AID: Enabling the Rural Poor to Protect Their Health

By helping villagers in rural communities become owners and operators of their own water facilities, Lien AID through its clean water and sanitation programmes has improved the health and well-being of thousands of rural poor in Cambodia and elsewhere in Asia.

The Lien Foundation was established by prominent Singaporean banker and entrepreneur Dr. Lien Ying Chow. Orphaned at age 10 and without a formal education, Lien established the foundation in 1980 with almost half of his wealth to give back to society what it had given to him. Lien AID was incorporated in 2006, with the mission to improve living conditions in developing communities in Asia and as an autonomous vehicle to champion the foundation’s interests in water and sanitation.

By the end of 2014, Lien AID had reached about 682,000 direct beneficiaries in poor communities across Southeast Asia and China. It had built more than 1,300 water facilities and 22,000 toilets. It had made water and sanitation accessible for more than 200 schools and 2,800 villages as well as 59 healthcare facilities. In Cambodia alone, Lien AID had implemented 43 community-based water social enterprises by May 2015 and is looking to deliver at least 18 more by 2018.

Protecting and Saving Marine Life

Coral Triangle Center: Leading the Fight against Destruction and Extinction

A small but influential local NGO based in Indonesia is helping nations across the Indo-Pacific Ocean implement programs to promote the sustainable use and aquatic wonder of their coastlines.

The Coral Triangle Center (CTC), a local NGO headquartered on the Indonesian resort island of Bali is at the forefront of a major international movement to protect coral reefs and fish from destruction or extinction.

The NGO’s name comes from the roughly triangular shape of a 5.7 million square kilometer area of the Indo-Pacific Ocean formed by the coastlines of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. The nations are scrambling to regulate the use of coastal waters and teach the 120 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods and the millions more who come as tourists how to protect ecosystems that are under siege from many threats.  Since its founding in 2011, the CTC has been a leader in a campaign marked by growing urgency over the sustainable use of marine resources.

Turning New Leaves

TreePlanet: Changing attitudes toward forestation in South Korea

Tech-savvy social enterprise TreePlanet leverages growing environmental awareness, current cultural obsessions, and high internet productivity to develop profitable products and services that are designed to get consumers engaged with environmental causes.

“We are a tree-planting company,” said Kim Hyungsoo, co-founder and chief executive officer of TreePlanet. Since 2011, the small enterprise has used revenue from various sources — mobile game advertising, product licensing, and crowdfunding — to pay for forestry initiatives that have resulted in the planting of more than half-a-million trees across working orchards, anti-desertifi cation projects, and urban parks. But Kim’s literal description of his company belies its true purpose — TreePlanet is in fact a project in raising awareness. As important, if not more so, to funding forestation projects is the goal of changing the attitudes of its customers, which TreePlanet does by facilitating a personal
affiliation with forestry projects.

Building Collective Impact

New Homeland Foundation: Empowering a DisasterStruck Community in Rural Taiwan

With the help of the New Homeland Foundation (NHF), the poor mountain village of Taomi emerged from the tatters of a catastrophic earthquake as a premium eco-village and tourism hotspot.

In 1999, a disastrous earthquake struck Taomi, and the destruction brought further suffering to local residents. In response, a non-profit organization (NPO) called the New Homeland Foundation (NHF) stepped up to the plate, helping the community to channel resources for the emergency response and the eventual regeneration of Taomi’s economy.

NHF worked with experts from different fields to sketch out a roadmap for Taomi to re-invent itself as an eco-village. Over the course of a decade, external professionals and NHF empowered local residents to see the value of the environment and rural lifestyles for their economic prospects: a pre-quake bamboo grower would became an ecological guide and B&B operator. NHF also transformed itself along the way. Initially acting as a champion for Taomi to restructure its aid-reliant economy, NHF became an eco-tourism entrepreneur itself when it established a learning park that became a major tourist attraction. In doing so, it became a critical player in Taomi’s eco-village economy and continues to play an important role in its ongoing success.

A Virtuous Economy

Hong Chi Association: Creating Green Opportunities for Hong Kong’s Disabled Workers

Through a unique tri-partite collaboration, Hong Chi Association has kick-started a glass bottle recycling project that has provided disabled workers with valuable life skills while changing public attitudes to the environment.

Hong Chi, formerly known as the Hong Kong Association for the Mentally Handicapped, was established in 1965 as a school and care site for just four students, the parents of whom championed the cause for an educational center and environment for their handicapped children. In 1997, the name of the association changed to Hong Chi: in Chinese “Hong” means “to assist,” and “Chi” refers to “the intellect,” reflecting the organization’s founding mission to assist mentally handicapped people to develop their potential as valuable members of society.

Within three years of Hong Chi’s founding, the school had expanded to 70 students across two campuses. With the help of dedicated teachers and the early recognition of these students’ potential, some graduates went on to find work. At a time when there were no resources to support mentally handicapped individuals, nor was there a support system for their families, Hong Chi stepped into the breach. Today, it is dedicated to serving over 7,000 people of all ages and levels of intellectual disabilities. It operates 81 services that provide special education, job training, sheltered and supported employment, and adult education, among other things that are vital to supporting Hong Kong’s people with intellectual disabilities (PID) to live their lives to the fullest.

Homegrown, World-class

Council on Energy, Environment and Water: Building an Independent Policy Think Tank for India

The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) was formed to provide independent domestic research to Indian policy makers for creating a sustainable India.

CEEW was established in 2010 with a mission to identify the integrated solutions required to achieve balanced growth and development for India. Given the global nature of climate change and resource challenges, and the need for cross-border, collective action, Arunabha Ghosh, CEEW’s founder and chief executive officer, envisioned an internationally focused institute to “solve real problems using world-class research.” Since its founding, CEEW has engaged in more than 100 research projects, published more than 50 peer-reviewed policy reports and papers, and organized more than 110 seminars and conferences.