Who’s Doing Good?

10 June 2019 - 23 June 2019

THE GIVERS

Li Ka-shing donates HK$118 million to Shantou University. Every undergraduate attending Shantou University in China will have their tuition paid for thanks to Hong Kong’s richest man. Li Ka-shing established the university in 1981 to aid the development of his hometown of Shantou. His donation of HK$118 million (approximately US$15 million) will grant a full scholarship to every student enrolled in the university for the next four years. The donation will be administered through his eponymous foundation, which he founded in 1980. The Hong Kong billionaire has exhibited great dedication to philanthropy, having donated over HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) to schools, hospitals, and universities in 27 countries and regions. Li has stated that he plans to bequeath a third of his wealth to philanthropy and charitable causes.

Indian billionaire Azim Premji’s retirement casts spotlight on private philanthropy in India. Azim Premji announced last week that he will retire from his position as executive chairman and managing director of Wipro. As India’s second-richest person with an estimated net worth of US$22.4 billion, Premji has grown to be an inspiring philanthropist, committing over half of his wealth to philanthropy. Premji was the first Indian to sign The Giving Pledge and has donated US$21 billion to date. While ultra-high-net-worth individuals in India are giving less than they did five years ago, according to Dasra and Bain’s 2019 India Philanthropy Report, Premji is a notable exception. His retirement casts a spotlight on private philanthropy in India and the opportunity for more business leaders and philanthropists to invest their wealth in the social sector.

Japan’s Rugby World Cup mascots call on fans to help disadvantaged children in Asia. ChildFund and World Rugby are partnering for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by Japan this fall. As part of their Impact Beyond legacy program, the Rugby World Cup’s two mascots will be ambassadors to ChildFund Pass It Back, a sport-for-development organization. Pass It Back has benefited more than 10,000 disadvantaged children across Asia–over half being girls and young women–by integrating life skills curricula with tag rugby. With a pledge of a record £1.5 million (US$1.9 million), the global rugby community and commercial partners for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will enable over 25,000 disadvantaged youth from across Asia to participate in the Pass It Back program.

THE THINKERS

Japan’s social investment funds connect social enterprises to private capital. As interest in social ventures increases among investors, third-party organizations in Japan are stepping in to connect social enterprises with private capital. This includes Kamakura Investment Management, which works to facilitate a cross-sector ecosystem by connecting companies it invests in to social ventures it supports. Kamakura’s flagship mutual fund, Yui 2101, which initially received skepticism from people in the industry, now boasts assets under management of US$340 million from more than 19,000 investors. Another key player working to foster a cross-sector ecosystem is the Japan Social Impact Investment Foundation (SIIF), which invested in Japan’s first health-care social impact bond.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) releases its 2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey. In its ninth iteration, GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey provides data on and insights into the increasing scale and maturity of the global impact investing industry. The report draws on responses from 266 leading impact investing organizations from around the world who collectively manage US$239 billion. The report also includes Asia-specific findings. South Asia is reported to be the second-fastest-growing region of interest among four-year repeat respondents, with 40 percent of all respondents planning to increase their allocations to it. For the array of actors entering Asia’s nascent impact investing industry, this report offers a snapshot of impact investing activity from global counterparts.

THE NONPROFITS

Cambodian nonprofit wins Australian award for film addressing domestic violence. Siem Reap-based nonprofit This Life Cambodia won the “Best Social Media Campaign of the Year” at the Not-For-Profit Technology Awards in Australia. The nonprofit leveraged the power of social media to run its End Violence Together campaign for 16 days in November and December 2018. The campaign included a two-minute film depicting “a world in which women and children weren’t wearing helmets to protect themselves from road accidents, but wore them inside their homes to protect themselves from domestic violence.” According to The Phnom Penh Post, the video went viral and was viewed more than a million times. This Life Cambodia is also a finalist for the global Grassroots Justice Prize.

THE BUSINESSES

Korea’s Amorepacific signs MOU with TerraCycle to recycle empty bottles. Recycling efforts will soon get a boost with an agreement signed between Amorepacific Corporate and global environment company TerraCycle. A memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties in June includes objectives to recycle at least 100 tons of empty plastic bottles annually for three years and to increase the usage of recycled empty bottles for Amorepacific products. Amorepacific is a leading Korean beauty company and has collected 1,736 tons of empty cosmetic bottles over the last 15 years. The company has been running its Greencycle campaign to recycle these empty cosmetic bottles or upcycle them into creative artworks. The company is also currently studying different recycling opportunities to mitigate environmental harm caused by used cosmetic bottles.

Collaboration among stakeholders key to achieving development goals. In the lead-up to the G-20 Osaka Summit, Japan has outlined action plans for achieving the SDGs through regional revitalization, women empowerment, and Society 5.0–a program based on human-centered society, leveraging data, and new technologies. Business leaders have also been vocalizing their support. The Keidanren, also known as the Japan Business Foundation, has updated its Charter of Corporate Behavior to support efforts for achieving the SDGs. The integration of SDG principles and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into business strategies and investments is promising, but the article highlights the need for more collaboration at the global level to achieve the SDGs. At the first SDG Summit in New York this September, the international community will need to discuss progress made and a collaborative way forward.

THE INNOVATORS

Asian banks curb lending to coal plants after pressure from investment funds. Asian banks are stopping loans to coal plants as investors increasingly adopt environmentally conscious investment principles. The latest move came from Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in May and banks across Asia, such as DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation in Singapore, have also announced similar measures. This is in line with a surge in global investments based on ESG factors, which have reached US$30.7 trillion as of 2018–a 34 percent increase in just two years–according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. George Iguchi of Nissay Asset Management stated, “These three factors [environment, social, and governance] are good indicators of what vision each company has for its business. Businesses with a good vision can generate better returns [that are] sustainable.”

UOB Venture Management expands its impact investing initiative. UOB Venture Management will be launching a new impact fund in the second half this year. Named the Asia Impact Investment Fund (AIIF II), it will continue the Fund’s focus on investment in education, healthcare, and agriculture as well as extend into new areas like clean energy and affordable housing. Deals for the Fund will be assessed based on a company’s ability to scale its business and the company’s impact on low-income communities. UOB Venture Management started the first series of the Fund in 2015 and has invested in nine companies across China, Indonesia, and Myanmar. These companies have strived to improve the lives of low-income communities by including them as consumers, suppliers, or distributors.

Who’s Doing Good?

24 June 2019 - 7 July 2019

THE GIVERS

Alibaba to contribute US$145 million donation to women’s football. The Chinese women’s national football team will receive ¥1 billion (US$145 million) in donations from Chinese online giant Alibaba. Alipay, the mobile payment platform of Alibaba, will fund the bulk of the initiative. Additional contributions will come from the respective foundations of Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. The donation will be deployed over the coming decade towards injury prevention and treatment, career development of retired players, technical development, coach education, and youth development. According to this Channel News Asia article, the three parties aim to make football “more sustainable and accessible to girls and women across the nation.” Despite underfunding, the Chinese women’s national team has qualified for seven of the eight Women’s World Cups, including this year’s Cup in France. 

East Asia’s young rich redefine the concept of family legacy. A recent report, Passing the Torch: Bridging mindset gaps between high-net-worth generations in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore, highlights a shift in family business and philanthropy. The study, which was conducted by HSBC and commissioned by The Economist, reveals that high-net-worth individuals are giving their heirs flexibility in taking the family business in a new direction. Increasingly, the younger generation is redefining their family legacies through establishing charitable foundations or engaging in new CSR initiatives under the umbrella of their family business. At the intersection of new wealth and new ideas, the younger generation is redefining family legacy as they strive to create long-term social or environmental impact at the helm of their family business.

THE THINKERS

Muhammad Yunus underscores the power of social enterprises run by women and young people. Ahead of a social business event in Thailand, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus talks about the impact of social enterprises, especially those run by women and young people. In conversation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he highlighted, “Women and young people perhaps understand these problems better because they are most affected by them.” As social entrepreneurship burgeons across the region, some Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have passed legislation or revised laws to support social business ventures. To aid these developments, Yunus highlights the importance of adapting educational institutions and financial systems to encourage entrepreneurship and social business.

Philanthropy is still the backbone of social action. CAPS Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro’s letter in the Financial Times gives insight into the relationship between philanthropy and impact investing. In a recent study, CAPS found that 59 percent and 66 percent of social enterprises in Hong Kong and Japan respectively report receiving philanthropic or government grants. In fact, many social enterprises in Asia depend on philanthropy and government grants as angel investment. Shapiro’s letter is a prelude to CAPS’ upcoming report on effective social enterprise ecosystems in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand, set to be published this fall.

THE BUSINESSES

Prudence Foundation and AVPN announce winners of inaugural Disaster Tech Innovation Competition. Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, and AVPN launched the Disaster Tech Innovation Competition earlier this year. The competition aims to “leverage technology solutions for disaster prevention and recovery efforts in the region.” The finalists, comprised of both nonprofit and for-profit social purpose organizations, covered markets including Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Taiwan. FieldSight, a mobile platform that supports disaster reconstruction activities, won First Prize. According to FieldSight director Justin Henceroth, the mobile platform was first launched in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes and has since been implemented at 60,000 sites in 16 markets. The organization received a grant of US$100,000 to help fund the implementation and scaling up of its Disaster Tech solution.

Development impact bond (DIB) boosts education in India. The Quality Education India DIB was launched in September 2018 by the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and Tata Trusts, together with local partners. As the largest development impact bond in the area to date, the bond funds initiatives towards improving literacy and numeracy skills for more than 300,000 children in India. According to a recent evaluation, “40 percent of participating schools met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy outcomes compared with non-participating schools.” The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation country director for India highlighted, “The early signs are that outcome-based funding models, with an incentive attached, have the potential to drive quality in education and attract new forms of capital to sustain it.”

Japan’s Suntory joins rival Coca-Cola to encourage plastic recycling in Vietnam. Reuters reports on a new alliance between Suntory, Coca-Cola, and Nestle–the latest in partnerships among global plastics and consumer goods companies. The Japanese beverage giant, Suntory Holdings, plans to switch out pure petroleum-based plastic bottles for bottles made from recycled or plant-based materials by 2030. However, achieving this goal will be challenging due to a lack of sophisticated recycling systems in Suntory’s Southeast Asian markets, such as Vietnam. The alliance, which also includes the local operations of Tetra Pak and NutiFood, will call on the Vietnamese government to, “plan a system spanning collection and facilities for recycling.” This push comes at a time when Vietnam is among the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean. Earlier this month Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that he wants Vietnam to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, but companies are pushing for large-scale recycling systems in addition to government restrictions on plastic bottles.

THE INNOVATORS

Sustainable investments make up nearly a fifth of rich Asian investors’ portfolios. According to a survey by Standard Chartered Private Bank, high-net-worth (HNW) investors in Asia have increased their allocation to sustainable investments to almost a fifth of their portfolios. The survey covered 416 HNW individuals residing in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India with a minimum of US$1 million in investments. Chinese investors are leading as the survey found “a majority of [Chinese] respondents have already allocated between a quarter to half of their funds to sustainable investments.” The study also revealed that in Asia knowledge of sustainable investing among investors has improved by 20 percent from 2018. The top cited motivation among the HNW investors was to “create a better future,” followed by “doing good while earning a profit.” The growing interest and awareness of sustainable investing among HNW investors is an encouraging trend for the region.

Impact investing in Asia to gain as US$15 trillion set to change hands among world’s wealthiest families. Impact investing in Asia has an opportunity to gain from the US$15.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected to occur over the next decade, according to global wealth researcher Wealth-X. While only US$1.88 trillion of this total is expected to be transferred in Asia, the transfer of wealth will occur amidst a growing ESG sector and growing interest in impact investing. With the younger generation soon to be at the helm of their families’ wealth, this intergenerational transfer is a fruitful opportunity for impact investing to grow. Wealth-X additionally notes that the US$8.8 trillion expected to change hands in Europe and North America bodes well for Asia. Due to friendlier regulatory environments, wealthy investors are increasingly setting up family office branches in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Who’s Doing Good?

13 May 2019 - 26 May 2019

THE GIVERS

Lu Weiding named the most generous Chinese philanthropist. Hurun Report released its “Hurun China Philanthropy List 2019,” ranking the most generous philanthropists from Greater China. Lu Weiding, chief executive of Wanxiang Group, tops the list with a single donation of shares worth US$720 million. The donation was made to a charitable trust in memory of his father, Lu Guanqiu, who founded Wanxiang in 1969 and grew it into a multinational conglomerate that is China’s largest auto components company today. Ranked second this year, Chen Yidan, co-founder of Tencent, made a US$500 million gift comprised mainly of Tencent shares. He is followed by Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Group, who made a US$230 million donation. This year’s list also sees a notable increase in female philanthropists–up to 21 from 13–with Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Longfor Properties, leading with US$20 million in donations.

THE THINKERS

Challenges in measuring China’s nonprofit sector. A pioneering study, Research on the Calculation of NPO-GDP in China, conducted by Professor Ma Qingyu and his team from Beijing Wanzhong Social Innovation Institute (BWSII), aims to measure the burgeoning social sector’s contribution to China’s economy. The findings were presented at an international symposium hosted by BWSII and The Asia Foundation. Lester M. Salamon, a leading global expert on the empirical study of the nonprofit sector, hailed the study as an important step in measuring the economic footprint of the third sector. However, he noted that the definition of the “third or social economy” sector used by Ma, who follows the convention laid by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, is limiting. It excludes volunteer work, as well as organizations such as social enterprises, cooperatives, schools, and hospitals that earn significant market incomes but do not distribute their profits. Salamon believes that a broader definition of the third sector, detailed in a UN handbook of which he is the lead author, is more commonly used internationally and would make it easier for China to share the story of its sizeable third sector with the world.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Sustainability Conference explores global trends of circular economy and sustainable finance. The conference, which is organized by CUHK’s MBA students, convened thought leaders and practitioners from both the public and private sectors to discuss growing global trends and recent developments in sustainability. The conference has traditionally focused on corporate philanthropy and company-initiated social services under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility. This year’s iteration also underscored the importance of advancing sustainability efforts and supporting innovative approaches towards creating positive social and environmental impact. Emerging trends in sustainability were discussed, including circular economy, ESG, and green finance, with an aim of nurturing the next generation of sustainability-minded business leaders.

THE BUSINESSES

Alibaba releases inaugural philanthropy report detailing the company’s social impact. Alibaba Group has released its inaugural philanthropy report, which details the company’s philanthropic initiatives and highlights its three platforms: Alibaba Philanthropy, Alipay Philanthropy, and “Each Person Three Hours.” According to the report 440 million individuals across China have used these platforms in the past 12 months, raising over US$184 million in charitable donations. Over 15 million people registered on the “Each Person Three Hours” platform, which lists over 3.05 million volunteer opportunities. In addition to showcasing Alibaba’s integration of philanthropy into each part of its business ecosystem and the company’s encouragement of personal philanthropy by employees, the report also lists several examples of Alibaba’s philanthropic initiatives outside of China. Sun Lijun, head of the Alibaba Foundation, underscored the Group’s commitment to philanthropy, “Here at Alibaba, philanthropy is the core of our business model. Our foremost priority is providing effective and sustainable solutions to problems faced by society.” Since 2011, when Jack Ma founded the Alibaba Foundation and announced a commitment of 0.3% of the group’s annual revenues to social responsibility initiatives, the e-commerce giant has grown to be a leader in corporate social responsibility in China.

Thai company partners with nonprofit Alliance for Smiles to provide surgery for 100 Myanmar children. In celebration of 30 years of their business in Myanmar, Thai oil and gas company PTTEP Myanmar Asset is funding surgeries for children suffering from cleft lip or palate. The initiative is in partnership with Alliance for Smiles, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers free comprehensive treatment for children suffering from these conditions in under-served communities. Thanks to PTTEP’s donation of US$100,000, Alliance for Smiles will be able to offer surgery to 100 children in Myanmar. During the signing of the agreement, PTTEP Myanmar Asset’s general manager stated, “We are very pleased with the results of this cooperation with Alliance for Smiles. This benefits not only the individuals but the entire community in the long run.”

Tata Group helps restore damaged power network in wake of Cyclone Fani. While the Odisha government’s speedy evacuation saved the lives of millions, countless homes and power lines were destroyed by Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to hit India in decades. To aid recovery efforts Tata Power sent a team of 25 engineers and technicians from its regular operations to resurrect the power network. Tata Trusts and Tata Projects Community Development Trust are also providing drinking water supplies to affected areas, while Tata Power Solar has distributed over 4,000 solar lanterns to villagers. Praveer Sinha, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Power, said, “As an integral part of the Tata Group, we always endeavor to stand by the fellow Indians in need. After the global recognition to the country for successfully managing the cyclone, let us all join hands in resurrecting Odisha with our concentrated efforts.”

THE INNOVATORS

Kitkit School and onebillion announced as co-winners of Elon Musk’s US$15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. Launched in 2014, the Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition backed by Elon Musk that challenges teams across the globe to help end global illiteracy. Teams work to design and develop scalable, open-source software solutions that enable self-teaching of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic within 15 months on Pixel C tablets donated by Google. Kitkit school, created by Enuma, a leader in digital early learning based in Seoul and Berkeley, draws on technology and gamification to boost children’s confidence and empower them to be independent learners. onebillion, an educational nonprofit based in London, developed onetab, a learning device that offers onecourse, a comprehensive and modular adaptive learning software that responds to children’s different learning needs. The two winning teams will split the US$10 million Grand Prize sponsored by Elon Musk.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Employees and executives of POSCO gear up for “POSCO Global Volunteer Week.” As part of Korean steelmaker POSCO’s corporate social responsibility, 63,000 employees and executives working in 55 countries will participate in the company’s annual week-long volunteer event serving their respective communities. The volunteer week includes a panoply of community service opportunities such as enhancing energy efficiency, offering free English classes, and building an infirmary. Choi Jeong-woo emphasized the importance of the global volunteer week to the company, “POSCO employees will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills to help other members of society prosper.” POSCO announced that this year’s event slogan will be “Share the Talent, Change My Town.”

THE TRUSTBREAKERS

Prosecutors and witnesses describe flow of state funds into Najib’s accounts. The Straits Times reports on developments in the first of five criminal trials against former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who faces seven charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhdan (1MDB) scandal. The scandal centers on an alleged US$4.5 billion said to have been embezzled from 1MDB, a state investment fund set up under the Najib administration in 2009. Last week, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur heard witness testimonies recounting how fund transfers designated for CSR programs were made under the orders of chief executive of Yayasan Rakyat 1 Malaysia, a charitable foundation that had deployed CSR funding to Ihsan Perdana in the past. Instead, the funds allegedly ended up in Najib’s accounts and may have been used to pay off personal and political expenses. The trial is expected to continue until August.

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?

1 April 2019 - 7 April 2019

THE GIVERS

Korean celebrities give generously to Gangwon wildfire victims. On Friday, President Moon Jae-in declared a state of national disaster over the wildfire that affected the counties of Goseong, Inje, and Sokcho and the cities of Gangneung and Donghae. In the following days, the President designated these areas as a special disaster zone, which funneled in state money to help victims and support recovery, and a number of public figures made donations to support the affected communities. The largest donor was singer IU with a ₩100 million (approximately US$90,000) donation to ChildFund Korea, an international welfare service organization’s Korean arm. Coming from a range of celebrities, including K-pop idols and athletes, donations to victims in Gangwon Province have totaled US$330,000 as of Saturday and have complemented government efforts to respond to the disaster.

Tata Trusts awards 361 scholarships to students of Jammu and Kashmir. A new scholarship program, launched this year by the Tata Trusts, has selected 350 applicants for a two-year scholarship to pursue degree and diploma courses in education. A spokesperson for the Tata Trusts stated, “The Trusts had conducted an exercise to find out which states would benefit the most through support in promoting teaching as a career. Jammu and Kashmir emerged as one of the top choices.” In addition, 11 fine arts students of the University of Kashmir have been selected for the Tata Trusts Students’ Biennale National Award. The Tata Trusts has been supporting higher education since 1892 with the founding of the J.N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians, which was featured in CAPS’ report, “Giving Back to the Future: Scholarships for Higher Education.” This new annual scholarship underscores the Tata Trusts’ continued commitment to supporting higher education.

Azim Premji Foundation highlights the Wipro founder’s unwavering support and patience. With a strong belief that education is the fundamental non-violent way to bring about lasting social change, Azim Premji chose education to be a primary beneficiary of his philanthropic initiatives. Out of Premji’s initial dream of starting a liberal arts school in 1997 grew a philanthropic effort of around 2,000 people working in 50 districts across six Indian states and a university dedicated to education and development domains. CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, Dileep Ranjekar, lauds the Wipro founder’s continued support for the foundation’s work, stating that Azim Premji’s ability to appreciate and accept the inordinately long cycle time for social and educational change has enabled the foundation to work towards its long-term vision of social and educational change across the nation.

THE THINKERS

China’s philanthropy to unlock great potential. China’s philanthropy sector has quadrupled over the last decade, and private wealth has been a critical contributor to this growth. Donations from private companies and corporate foundations have dominated philanthropic giving, followed by affluent individuals and other types of organizations such as government agencies and public institutions. A recent report, published by AVPN and the Rockefeller Foundation, pointed out that the overwhelming share of corporate giving and individual donations in China has been largely stimulated by a rising awareness of social responsibility, favorable corporate tax incentives, and the country’s Charity Law passed in March 2016. While the report cautioned some barriers in China’s philanthropy ecosystem, such as a limited number of intermediaries able to help in sophisticated areas of philanthropy and a lack of data transparency, it expressed optimism as Chinese philanthropy burgeons alongside cutting-edge technology and a thriving digital sector, both of which are sparking a greater public interest in charity.

THE NONPROFITS

Pakistani nonprofit’s CEO named on Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs. The 28-year-old CEO of Seed Out, Zain Ashraf Mughal, secured a spot on the prestigious list of Asia’s top social entrepreneurs. Seed Out, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that works to eradicate poverty through interest-free micro-financing, has raised over 600 entrepreneurs in four Pakistani cities and put at least 1,600 children into schools. According to the World Bank in Pakistan, 90% of the workforce is highly entrepreneurial but it is estimated that 80% of them cannot apply for a traditional loan. Through Seed Out, donors can support social entrepreneurs through donating or lending to projects listed on the nonprofit’s website, ultimately providing social entrepreneurs the tools, training, and support to bring about innovative solutions to social and environmental issues.

THE BUSINESSES

Citi Foundation and United Nations Development Programme host second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit. On April 4th, the United Nations Development Programme and Citi Foundation collaborated with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Viet Nam Volunteer Center to host the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit in Hanoi. The project is the largest youth-led social entrepreneurship movement driving the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The event brings together over 500 delegates, including hundreds of youth, partners, and government officials from 20 countries, to exchange ideas and experiences and to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation. The initiative has benefitted over 2,500 young social entrepreneurs and has helped launch or improve nearly 500 social enterprises.

THE INNOVATORS

Fourteen young Indian social entrepreneurs make the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs. While the Forbes Billionaire List 2019 featured Indian business leaders including Mukesh Ambani and Azim Premji, a new cohort of young Indian leaders are being featured for their social-driven initiatives. Forbes Asia has released its annual Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, highlighting 300 outstanding individuals from 23 countries and territories in the Asia Pacific region. Fourteen young Indian social entrepreneurs were featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list of social entrepreneurs for their work, which ranges from collecting unused clothes to making sustainable construction bricks out of plastic waste. These young social entrepreneurs are tackling pressing social and environmental issues facing their communities and are a growing cohort of leaders in the burgeoning social entrepreneurship space.

Global impact investment market rises to US$502 billion. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the size and make-up of the impact investing market and launched their landmark report, “Sizing the Impact Investment Market.” GIIN reports that the global impact investment market is sized to be currently worth at least US$502 billion, which is more than double the US$228 billion reported by GIIN last year in its “2018 Annual Impact Investor Survey.” According to the report, the majority of impact investors are based in developed markets such as the US, Canada, and Europe, and a smaller fraction of investors are based in Asia with 2% of investors in East Asia, 2% in Southeast Asia, and 3% in South Asia. While the impact investment market has grown rapidly over the past decade, there is still a need for trillions of dollars to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving significant room for the nascent impact investment sector to grow.

Villgro leads the way in supporting social enterprises through public-private partnerships. As India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators, Villgro has impacted over 19 million lives through its support for early-stage and innovation-based social enterprises. Since its founding in 2001, Villgro has been an exemplar of social enterprise incubation with its focus on deep sectoral expertise, high-touch mentoring, and public-private partnerships. Villgro has collaborated with the private sector, including Accenture and Rabobank, as well as with local and international governments to expand INVEST, one of the world’s largest social innovation programs. The incubator’s diverse partnerships serve as models for other intermediaries looking to bolster the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in their communities.

Who’s Doing Good?

18 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

THE GIVERS

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

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

THE THINKERS

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

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

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

THE NONPROFITS

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

THE BUSINESSES

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

THE INNOVATORS

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

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

THE VOLUNTEERS

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

Who’s Doing Good?

21 January 2019 - 27 January 2019

THE GIVERS

India’s most respected business tycoons attend The Economic Times Family Business Awards. At the second annual ceremony, those who received an award shed light on their family businesses’ key to success. Shekhar Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Electricals, highlighted the importance of exercising leadership by example. Arun Bharat Ram, chairman of SRF, noted the importance of governance structure and cohesion. Vinati Saraf, managing director and CEO of Vinati Organics, brought attention to the need to recognize the role of women, and her message was echoed by Rafique Abdul Malik, chairman of Metro Shoes. At large, many agreed that giving back to society was a key element to their family businesses, as Yusuf Hamied, chairman of Cipla, stated, “Success doesn’t make a company, an individual, or a family great. What matters is the social contribution.”

THE THINKERS

China’s philanthropy booming alongside the growth of billionaires. From 2010 to 2016, donations from the top 100 philanthropists in China more than tripled, reaching US$4.6 billion. In 2016, the National People’s Congress (NPC) enacted the Charity Law, attempting to add transparency and accountability to the broader social sector. The article also notes that Chinese philanthropic foundations now function more like traditional for-profit enterprises with specialized management teams that operate under strict guidelines. The concept of philanthropy is a cornerstone to Chinese culture, revered throughout Confucian texts, and now, the growing number of billionaire philanthropists is trailblazing a new path for more impactful philanthropic giving by expanding the volumes and areas for charitable support.

President Arif Alvi calls on Pakistani businesses to engage in CSR work. At the 11th International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit and Awards organized by the National Forum for Environment and Health, Pakistan President Arif Alvi highlighted the need for legislating regulations that bind the local corporate sector to commit a minimum of 1% of annual profits to projects in health, education, and social development. Alvi’s message closely resembles and mirrors a trend first set by the Indian government, which requires large companies to spend at least 2% of their profits for CSR.

Bain report on digital philanthropy in China raises six questions for stakeholders to consider when developing digital strategies. Digital philanthropy has grown precipitously over the past decade, and online fundraising platforms have made individual giving easier and more accessible. Beyond the oft-reported Tencent and Alibaba and their control of 90% of China’s online fundraising, new players are diversifying the digital philanthropy landscape, including China’s two largest banks, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which obtained approval to operate online donation platforms last year. The report highlights the need to pursue digital opportunities and six key areas organizations should consider when developing their digital strategies.

THE NONPROFITS

Malaysian nonprofit opens “The Big Heart” learning center. The Dignity for Children Foundation (DFCF) was founded in 1998 by Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina to educate and train impoverished children and refugee youth in urban Kuala Lumpur. The Sharjah-based Big Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, organizes the annual Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support. In the 2018 edition last April, DFCF won and received an award of AED 500,000 (approximately US$136,000). At the awards ceremony, Sharjah ruler Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi donated an additional US$1 million to DFCF, which was used to expand its flagship project, the Urban Youth Education Village, into the organization’s newly opened learning center, “The Big Heart.”

THE BUSINESSES

Google set to fund a 10MW solar farm in Taiwan, its first renewable project in Asia. As the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, Google is funding a solar farm of 40,000 solar panels in Tainan City to compensate for the energy consumed by its nearby data center. Google has been lobbying the Taiwanese government for years, trying to permit non-utility companies to purchase renewable energy from producers directly. Ultimately, amendments in 2017 to the country’s energy regulations gave the green light for Google’s first renewable project in Asia. While the 10MW solar farm in Tainan City will not measure up to the full consumption of Google’s data center, this renewable project and its preceding lobbying efforts will pave the way for more clean energy projects to come in the region.

US$225 million raised from AC Energy’s maiden green bond issuance will bankroll renewable energy portfolio expansion. The energy platform of the Philippines’ Ayala conglomerate, AC Energy, issued its inaugural senior green bonds, a drawdown from the recently established US$1 billion medium-term note program. The bonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), and they will be the first publicly syndicated CBI-certified dollar-denominated green bond in Southeast Asia. On the US$225 million successfully raised, AC Energy chairman, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, expressed, “We are very pleased to see the success of our maiden green bond. This will enable AC Energy to scale up its renewable energy investments in the region.”

THE INNOVATORS

Tata Trusts and New America launch blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. New America’s Blockchain Trust Accelerator and the Tata Trusts publicly announced at the Global Blockchain Business Council their ambitious blueprint for blockchain and social innovation. The blueprint outlines practical examples of blockchain projects that can be translated to the social impact and government technology arena. It also brings attention to efforts on part of governments to embrace blockchain, highlighting ways in which blockchain can contribute to social good, social justice, broad-based economic participation, and enhanced trust in the public square. Blockchain was one of the most cited words at last year’s World Economic Forum, and projects like this blueprint are proving that blockchain is quickly gaining interest and support within the social innovation space as well.

“eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN” workshop fosters the growth of young regional entrepreneurs. The ASEAN Foundation and the Maybank Foundation held a five-day workshop to train 100 Southeast Asian entrepreneurs in program development and field-work. These young entrepreneurs will be implementing pilot programs that provide social and economic benefits and services in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This program was a result of Maybank’s efforts to scale its 2016 program that trained students from top universities in Singapore to a regional level with the goal of empowering the youth and fostering the growth of sustainable development innovation throughout Southeast Asia.

Who’s Doing Good?

17 December 2018 - 23 December 2018

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong Tatler profiles Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s most influential businessmen and philanthropists. Born in 1928 in Chaozhou, Guangdong, Li Ka-shing rose from humble beginnings, sweeping floors in factories and caring for his ailing father after his family migrated to Hong Kong. His business acumen led to a successful plastic flower manufacturing business and, eventually, a real estate empire. In May 2018 the former chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings retired after 68 years in business, and pledged a third of his wealth to philanthropic projects. Despite his vast net worth, Hong Kong’s richest man is popular for maintaining a humble outlook and engaging in philanthropy. The Li Ka Shing Foundation is considered second in influence only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with contributions totaling HK$20 billion (approximately US$2.5 billion) in a range of areas including education and social development.

THE THINKERS

Indian companies rally to support Arianna Huffington’s mental health initiative, Thrive. During a recent trip to India, the acclaimed businesswoman and author won the support of several Indian companies as well as the Indian chapters of American Express and Microsoft. These companies are now finalizing a partnership with Huffington’s productivity and well-being platform, Thrive Global, through which they will receive coaching on creating a positive work culture for employee well-being. Thrive Global centers efforts on alleviating stress and burnout, which it sees as a modern epidemic. Arianna Huffington is recognized as a strong advocate for addressing this issue. Her 2014 book, “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder”, was a New York Times bestseller.

THE NONPROFITS

Rockefeller Foundation vows to encourage collaborative problem solving in Asia. Deepali Khanna, Managing Director of the foundation’s Asia office, says that collaboration as a means of generating impact will underscore their work in the region for the next few years. A collective mandate for all stakeholders, from philanthropists to corporations to governments, can help streamline deliverables as well as align impact measurement. The Foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development initiative, worth US$75 million, has helped bring together seven energy companies as well as local and national governments to expand grid systems in a cost effective and decentralized manner.

THE BUSINESSES

Operation Santa Claus raises HK$7.6 million (approximately US$980,000) in Hong Kong. Morgan Stanley, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Swire Pacific are among the many businesses participating in this year’s Operation Santa Claus, an annual charity drive to support the needy in Hong Kong. Over a hundred Morgan Stanley employees participated in various activities to raise a record HK$3.55 million (approximately US$453,000). Toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is offering gift-wrapping services in exchange for donations. Individuals can also donate to the drive directly. Operation Santa Claus is a collaboration between the South China Morning Post newspaper and Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK. Since its inception in 1988, the charity drive has raised a total of HK$290 million (approximately US$37 million).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending in India jumps 14%, and is expected to reach ₹500 billion (approximately US$6 billion) by March 2019. A law requiring companies valued at over ₹5 billion (approximately US$71 million) to spend 2% of average net profits on CSR is bearing fruit. The increase in CSR spending is providing cover to India’s poor, estimated to number north of 170 million. An example is India’s biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, partnering with Gujarat-based hospital, Zydus, to set up a polyclinic. In Haryana, Maruti Suzuki has also set up automated water dispensing facilities. Clean water can be purchased from these facilities at one-thirtieth the retail price. Other notable initiatives in fulfilling the CSR law have included an AIDS campaign led by the Tata Group and an agricultural technology program funded by HDFC Bank.

THE INNOVATORS

Millennials are at the forefront of surge in social enterprises in Indonesia. A recent study commissioned by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific notes rapid growth in Indonesia’s social enterprise ecosystem. Over 70% of the sampled enterprises were set up in the last two years, and almost half of all leaders are aged between 25 and 34. This sharp rise in social enterprises is having a positive impact on the economy and society. The number of full-time workers employed by the sector is up by 42% since 2016, and 20% of all enterprises target creative industries (including crafts and knowledge generation) considered key in modern development. Gender equality has also benefited: the growth of social enterprises has led to a 99% increase in the number of full-time females employed by the sector since 2016. Despite this surge, financing remains difficult to access, indicating that efforts to support the ecosystem must continue.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Filipino volunteer crowned Miss Universe 2018. During the final question round of the pageant, Catriona Elisa Gray from Philippines, said, “I work a lot in the slums of Manila and life there is very poor and sad. I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in the faces of the children, and I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something and provide something.” Gray was noted for being an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself, an advocacy and awareness NGO in the Philippines as well. She has also served as a teaching assistant at Young Focus which provides education to underprivileged children.

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.