Bill Gates lauds Azim Premji for commitment to philanthropy. This past weekend, Bill Gates took to Twitter to acknowledge Wipro chairman Azim Premji and his most recent bequest of 34% of Wipro’s shares, worth about US$7.5 billion, to the Azim Premji Foundation. With this new charitable contribution, Premji has now donated a total of US$21 billion over the past several years to his philanthropic initiatives, making him one of the world’s top philanthropists. Since 2014, the Azim Premji Foundation has supported over 150 organizations engaged in improving the lives of disadvantaged, under-served, and marginalized communities in India. Gates tweeted, “I’m inspired by Azim Premji’s continued commitment to philanthropy. His latest contribution will make a tremendous impact.”
China’s new billionaire class gives rise to philanthropy boom. The 2019 report from the China Philanthropy program at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation highlights driving forces that have fueled China’s philanthropy boom, including the country’s recent economic growth and laws and regulations that gradually legitimized and incentivized private giving. While the largest percentage of Chinese donors comes from the real estate sector, the report also highlights prominent Chinese philanthropists, including China’s richest man, Jack Ma, who recently announced he was retiring from his company to focus on education philanthropy. Beyond the givers, China’s maturing philanthropy scene has also spurred the growth of new philanthropic infrastructure, buttressed by intermediary organizations that gather data, facilitate peer learning, and train donors to be more strategic in their giving.
Southeast Asian business leaders must step up and invest in development efforts. While economists forecast Indonesia to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050, the country still faces development and public health challenges, such as a high burden of tuberculosis. Dato’ Sri Dr. Tahir, chairman of Mayapada Group and founder of the Tahir Foundation, calls on private sector leaders to recognize their critical role in public health and development in emerging economies in Southeast Asia. While the efforts of a partnership between the Tahir Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and government public health services have helped Indonesia achieve a 44% decrease in TB mortality rates and 14% decrease in TB incidence rates from 2000 to 2017, the private sector can propel these efforts with financial support to expand access for all Indonesians to benefit from these resources and services.
Program trains rural women in India to raise healthier goats and gain financial independence. Extensive research shows that when women have control over finances, they are more likely to spend it in ways that improve the quality of life for their family. In rural India, goat rearing is an important source of income, managed almost exclusively by women, and the money from which is kept in their hands. Project Mesha, which is run by the Aga Khan Foundation and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, trains more than 200 women to be “pashu sakhis” in four communities in Bihar – one of the poorest states in India and home to one of the country’s largest population of goats. By learning how to vaccinate, deworm, and provide other preventative care to goats in their community, women can increase their income by charging small fees for their veterinary services, promoting goat care in their communities, and reducing the loss of income due to the high mortality rate of goats. Through working with local women’s groups, the program aims to increase incomes for 50,000 of India’s poorest women by 30%.
Hong Kong NGO Leadership Programme nurtures social service network for the future. The nine-month NGO leadership program is a tripartite collaboration between The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Work, UBS, and Operation Santa Claus, one of the largest charitable donation drives in Hong Kong. The program aims to encourage more volunteering, nurture leaders in the social sector, and build a lasting network that will help with collaborative problem solving of social challenges in the future. The winning participant of each year’s program becomes a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus, and past winners have been granted more than US$102,000 to invest in their service. Last year’s winner was Kenneth Choi Man-kin, the general manager of social enterprise Gingko House. Since its founding in 2015, the leadership program has trained 103 participants from 87 organizations and has helped kickstart numerous social service projects.
Global Wholesaler METRO to join forces with One Drop Foundation to provide safe water access and sanitation in India. On World Water Day, March 22, international wholesale and food specialist METRO launched the METRO Water Initiative in partnership with the One Drop Foundation. The joint initiative will collaborate with an array of actors on the ground including local governments, civil society organizations, and microfinancing institutions to provide permanent access to sustainable and safe water and sanitation to more than a quarter of a million people in India. The initiative will focus on supporting the northern District of Sheohar, in Bihar, India where nearly half of the region lacks safe water coverage. This project highlights the importance of collaboration as emphasized by Heiko Hutmacher, Chief Human Resources Officer and Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for Sustainability, “By partnering for a common goal, we have the power to change the lives of more than a quarter of a million people for the better.”
Chairperson and CEO of Emperor Watch and Jewellery, Cindy Yeung, talks about the company’s charitable causes. At the helm of the family business — one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious retailers — Cindy Yeung follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather by giving back to the community through charitable initiatives with the company. In a recent interview, part of Hong Kong Tatler’s ‘The Next Step’ series that highlights Hong Kong-based philanthropic women, Yeung shares about her early inspiration from her father, Dr. Albert Yeung. Galvanized by his philanthropic work of founding the Emperor Foundation and the Albert Yeung Sau Sing Charity Foundation, she spearheaded new partnerships with charities including Plan International, Chi Heng Foundation, and Project We Can. In efforts to strengthen the company’s commitment to improving the education and health conditions of underprivileged children around the world Yeung also encourages staff to actively participate in their own way.
How socially responsible investing can help end modern slavery. While socially responsible investing has gained momentum around the world, the practice has focused more on environmental and governance issues, partly due to extensive data and indicators within these two streams. Unlike environmental metrics that have been developed to track global warming and deforestation, social impact metrics are still amorphous and underdeveloped. In the case of modern slavery, the market lacks a standardized set of quantifiable indicators that companies can use as a reporting standard and that asset managers can base their investments on. The development of more robust metrics to track social issues like modern slavery will be pertinent in paving the way for investors to have a more tangible impact, especially in Asia and the Pacific region where 62% of the estimated 40 million victims of modern slavery live.
Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) celebrates its 10-year anniversary with inaugural art competition and exhibition. Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange, a pioneer in impact investing that focuses on empowering women, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with its inaugural She Is More Youth Art Competition. The competition, which is headed by the organization’s IIX Foundation, aims to harness the power of art to give voice to women, and it will culminate in an exhibition set to open in May. Durreen Shahnaz, founder and CEO of IIX, highlighted that the event aligns with her vision for IIX, which is to provide “a chance for us to change the narrative of women as victims, to recognize them as solution-builders; to drive women’s empowerment by building opportunities for everyone to value and give voice to women.”
Young volunteers in India are on a mission to feed the poor. Robin Hood Army, a group of more than 270 young volunteers who are largely students and young working professionals, has been collecting surplus food from hotels, restaurants, and wedding halls to feed the hungry. Modeled on the Re-Food program in Portugal, which fights hunger at no-cost, the organization began working in Delhi, India in 2014 as a zero-funds organization – operating with no revenue, office space, or employees. To ensure food is reaching the communities most in need, the Robin Hood Army volunteers conduct location surveys to gauge the need for food, collecting data on the number of family members, the number of children in each family, and the family’s source of livelihood. From last September till now, the group of volunteers has conducted 154 food drives and has fed nearly 30,000 people.