Who’s Doing Good?

15 April 2019 - 28 April 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

8 April 2019 - 14 April 2019

THE GIVERS

GS Group makes US$400,000 donation to help victims of recent Gangwon wildfire. In line with the GS Group chairman’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, GS Group affiliates have been engaging in various partnerships to address social needs. Last year, GS Retail signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to annually donate relief supplies worth ₩50 million (approximately US$40,000) and to transform GS25 convenience stores into emergency shelters during natural disasters. GS Retail quickly responded to the Gangwon wildfire that broke out earlier this month, teaming up with other relief organizations to provide emergency supplies to those who suffered from the wildfire. GS Group made an additional contribution to relief efforts with a ₩500 million (US$400,000) donation to Community Chest of Korea, the country’s largest welfare institution, to support the victims.

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun to give nearly US$1 billion to charity. The founder and CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, is receiving a bonus of more than 636.6 million shares for his eight years of contributions to the company. The Chinese smartphone maker went public in Hong Kong in 2018, and based on the stock’s current price, Lei Jun’s shares amount to approximately US$961 million. Last Wednesday, Xiaomi stated in a regulatory filing that Lei Jun promised to donate all the shares to charitable purposes. This comes weeks after another fresh bequest of shares, worth around US$7.5 billion, was made by Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, to his philanthropic initiatives.

THE THINKERS

Indian philanthropy still faces limitations, but leaders in the field can pioneer change. Education programs continue to receive the majority of philanthropic funding in India, and some analysts have suggested that too much philanthropic funding has been going to the education sector to the exclusion of other important social issues, such as violence against women. However, the growing philanthropic infrastructure augurs well for enhanced information about and transparency of the nonprofit sector, allowing for underrepresented nonprofits to access more partnerships and opportunities. Leaders in the field, including academic centers such as The Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University and prominent foundations such as the Azim Premji Foundation, are positioned to drive the discourse on more inclusive and impactful philanthropy.

THE NONPROFITS

Social impact app, TangoTab, launches at Singapore’s first food bank community event.  Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Andre Angel, TangoTab is an app designed to serve the food-insecure, and it has donated over three million meals to partners in the United States. TangoTab has partnered with The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG), a registered charity that coordinates food donations with its network of over 300 nonprofits. The app was launched last week at Singapore’s first food bank community event, which fed 1,000 people. Every time a diner checks in to a partner establishment on the app TangoTab will make a donation to FBSG to feed a person in need. As studies show that seven in ten Singaporeans dine out for dinner and one in ten go to bed hungry every night, TangoTab will help the city take a step forward in assisting the food-insecure through its meal-for-a-meal platform.

THE BUSINESSES

Hilton Hotels Malaysia gives back to society. In a recent interview, the regional general manager of Hilton Hotels Malaysia, Jamie Mead, shared details of the group’s CSR initiatives that focus on education, youth development, and going green. Mead also highlighted the focus on functional CSR such as the hygienic recycling system implemented to avoid wasting the thousands of soaps that are thrown away every day. Of the ongoing CSR initiatives, Mead highlights the partnership with SK La Salle 2, Jinjang, to be especially meaningful to him as the close-knit relationships between the children studying at the school and the Hilton Hotels Malaysia volunteers greatly inspired him to continue giving back.

Tata Power trains farmers on sustainable agriculture. Exhibiting its commitment to the social development of local communities, Tata Power, India’s largest power generation company, recently trained over 950 farmers in 42 villages on sustainable farm practices. Under the Sustainable Agriculture Programme, landholding farmers were taught the best agricultural practices for staple crops, vegetables, and cash crops. The program also trained landless farmers to cultivate vegetables in their courtyards through a vertical farming program, helping tribal farmers in remote areas both raise their income and lead a healthier lifestyle with increased access to fresh vegetables.

Tata Trusts and Microsoft partner to empower handloom weaving communities. In an effort to rejuvenate handloom communities in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India, Tata Trusts and Microsoft will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education, and digital literacy to handloom weavers. The training will be delivered through Microsoft’s Project Sangam, a cloud solution for large-scale training programs with adaptive streaming and offline-mode learning, which empower communities to learn anytime and anywhere. In partnership with Tata Trusts, Microsoft aims to expand the program to the grassroots level and help weaving communities build a sustainable future. The chief program director of Tata Trusts stated, “Through this initiative, we want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”

THE INNOVATORS

BPI Foundation searches for promising social enterprises in the Philippines. The social innovation arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Foundation, has announced the launch of BPI Sinag Year 5. To widen the scope of its competition this year, BPI Sinag will hold roadshows in Davao, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Laguna. At each stop, social entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present a seven-minute business pitch, and the top 40 most promising social enterprises will win an opportunity to participate in a boot camp that will include training on business strategy, marketing, operations, finance, organization, and human resources development. Ten social enterprises with the most promising business viability and social impact will be named as awardees of BPI Sinag, with the top one to five receiving PHP 500,000 (approximately US$10,000) and the top six to ten receiving PHP 100,000 (approximately US$2,000) in grants.

Asia Pacific region found to be the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. A global survey by BNP Paribas of 347 institutional investors who have US$23 trillion in assets under management found that despite lagging behind other regions on sustainable investing, the Asia Pacific region is the most optimistic on the future of ESG investing. While the survey showed that Asia Pacific institutional investors only allocated 15% of funds to ESG investment, falling short of the 18% global level, over half of Asia Pacific investors stated that they would allocate up to 75% of their funds towards ESG by 2021. As green investment gains traction, the region is also set to see new job opportunities emerge as around 50% of Asia Pacific institutional investors plan to hire external ESG specialists, while only 34% of global counterparts expect to do the same.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Youth volunteers in Bangladesh lead the way on climate action. Bangladeshi State Minister of Youth and Sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, recently participated in an interactive roundtable, “Youth 2030: Working with and for Young People,” organized by the United Nations in New York. At the event last Tuesday, the state minister commended the nation’s young volunteers, stating, “The youth, especially the volunteers, have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s efforts on disaster risk reduction in early warning of the cyclone and emergency evacuation, effectively reducing deaths and injuries from natural disasters.” The state minister also highlighted the leading role of youth in not only volunteering efforts, but also in taking charge of on-the-ground climate action and social media campaigns against climate change.

Who’s Doing Good?

25 March 2019 - 31 March 2019

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

18 March 2019 - 24 March 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

11 March 2019 - 17 March 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

A New Look at Second Chances

Institutional Care for Children in India

The data tells us that there are fewer children in India who would be classified as “vulnerable” under the 2015 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act). The enshrinement of child rights into law shows that the protection of children has been formally recognized as a critical issue by the government of India. Specifically, the act contains provisions for children in need of care and protection, including the homeless and those residing with unfit or incapacitated parents or guardians. In short, the JJ Act holds the promise of a safe home for all children.

But these developments say little about the experience of the most vulnerable children once they have been taken under the care of institutions, nor their transition out of care into young adulthood. The nuances of this journey can only be appreciated at the individual level, as the Centre of Asian Philanthropy and Society found when we spent 10 weeks visiting orphanages and  children’s homes in the states of Goa and Indore to observe the work of organizations focused on providing shelter for children with no other resort. Between June and August 2017, we collected the stories of children in institutional care in rural and urban Mumbai, Goa, and Madhya Pradesh to provide a glimpse into their lives.

We found that even when at-risk children have been removed from immediate harm, the impact of their traumatic experiences persists. Mental health is not prioritized in most types of institutions these children are taken to. With staff stretched to capacity, children do not always receive the specialized care they need to mitigate the lifelong health risks of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). While resource-strapped institutions are hard-pressed to provide this sort of specialized care, our time in the field showed that an emphasis on providing emotional support and efforts to create a family-like environment for children can reap gains for their well-being.

Who’s Doing Good?

7 January 2019 - 13 January 2019

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

THE NONPROFITS 

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

10 December - 16 December 2018

THE GIVERS

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

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

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

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

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

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

Who’s Doing Good?

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?

5 November 2018 - 11 November 2018

THE GIVERS

Tmall.com Double Eleven Festival lucky draw winner donates prize money to children’s charity. The winner of the Double Eleven Festival draw, a shopping festival now greater in value than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, donated most of her prize money to a charity dedicated to finding lost children. The prize allowed the Hangzhou-based woman to spend up to 100 million yuan (approximately US$14 million).

THE THINKERS

Bill Gates demoes “reinvented” toilets, calling attention to over 4.5 billion people without proper sanitation. A result of US$200 million invested by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years, Bill Gates demoed innovative toilet designs this week in Beijing, China, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo. Requiring no water or electricity to run, the designs can also treat waste into water and fertilizer. A lack of access to proper sanitation costs half a million lives and over US$2 billion in associated expenses annually.

THE NONPROFITS

Charity groups can apply for grants up to SG$900,000 (approximately US$650,000) to improve processes. The Tote Board, Singapore’s largest grant-making organization, has launched the “Nonprofit Sector Transformation Initiative” worth SG$10 million (approximately US$7.26 million) to help charities boost their operational capabilities. The money will be given to 10 nonprofit organizations and can be used to hire external consultants or staff to improve internal processes and capacities or to boost their IT systems.

THE BUSINESSES

JD.com launches program to support children with special needs through art therapy. The new program from the Chinese e-commerce giant aims to raise money for the World of Art Brut Culture (WABC), a Shanghai-based non-governmental organization which highlights artistic talents of those with developmental disabilities.  As part of the initiative, JD.com sought out paintings designed by WABC-supported children to feature their artwork on 100,000 of its delivery packages.

THE INNOVATORS

Boys’ Brigade Singapore launches PayNow QR code for donations to its Share-A-Gift project. Boys’ Brigade’s Christmas charity project this year is going cashless by introducing PayNow QR codes. The project provides food hampers for the needy and grants wishes for items. Going cashless allows the organization to reach a wider base of donors, claims Mr. Lui Chong Chee, chairman of the project. In its 31st year now, requests from 41,756 beneficiaries, including 9,053 needy families and individuals, will be catered.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Kottayam to be India’s first hunger-free district, thanks to volunteer groups. Various volunteer groups, nonprofit organizations, and support from the locals have allowed the Kottayam district in India to be the first hunger-free district in the country. In addition to systematic contributions from the local Red Cross and other eateries, individuals leverage Facebook groups, as well as deposit boxes, to provide for the homeless and hungry.

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

I never lied about RM2.6 billion donation, says Razak. Najib Razak, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, is facing 38 criminal charges, including 25 charges for money laundering and abuse of power that are related to purported donations. Amidst the charges, he claims he did not lie about the RM6.2 million (approximately US$1.48 million) donation that he received in his personal account. He maintained that the funds came from the late monarch of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud. “All business regarding the receipt and return of the funds is within the knowledge of Bank Negara Malaysia, the corresponding banks, and my officers. Throughout the handling of the funds I received, no doubts were raised by Bank Negara, or the recipient’s banks, or the officers who handled my accounts,” he said in an interview.

Indonesian charities at risk of being used to launder cash and finance terrorism. Australia’s financial intelligence and counter-terrorism agency, Austrac, has found that Indonesia is at “high” risk of suffering consequences from financing terrorism (often inadvertently) along with Australia. Asia’s other representatives in the report, Singapore and Thailand, face a “medium” risk, while the problem is less severe in Brunei. The report calls individuals to always donate to “recognized, well-established” charities.