Muhammad Yunus & Ruth Shapiro: Doing Good in an Uncertain World

As a significant portion of global wealth shifts into the hands of a few, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus discusses the transformative power of social businesses in helping people escape poverty and fix, what he believes is a ‘broken economic system’. This discussion was hosted at the Commonwealth Club of California and moderated by CAPS’ Founder and Chief Executive, Ruth Shapiro.

Social Innovation and Social Transition in East Asia

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) & Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation

This collection of articles examines the varying ways in which social innovation has evolved in China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. The authors delve into the impact that each country’s history, culture, and political and economic systems have had on social innovation. Read it here.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle

World Bank Group

This series provides the most up-to-date estimates and trends on global poverty and shared prosperity. The 2018 edition broadens the way poverty is defined and measured, introducing a multi-faceted measurement approach connected to household consumption and the international poverty line (US$1.90 per person per day). Lack of access to infrastructure and education is also included as a facet of poverty. Relative poverty within households, sliced by gender and age, is also analyzed. The report shows that countries in East and South Asia have made impressive progress in poverty reduction. The poverty rate in countries in East Asia and the Pacific dropped from 62% in 1990 to less than 3% in 2015. And the number of poor people in South Asia dropped from half a billion in 1990 to 216 million in 2015. Read it here.

India’s Private Giving: Unpacking Domestic Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

OECD Development Centre & OECD Centre on Philanthropy

This report maps India’s domestic giving sector, comparing the volume and scope to other development funding sources. Economic growth, landmark corporate social responsibility (CSR) regulations and growing international interest has transformed the country’s philanthropic sector. This report is based on a survey of 178 of India’s largest CSR and philanthropic organizations. Strategies for increasing the impact of private giving are discussed. Read it here.

The Thailand Report: National Landscape, Current Challenges and Opportunities for Growth

Institute for Societal Leadership, Singapore Management University

This report spotlights the challenges faced by Thailand’s social impact organizations with regards to funding, human resources, tax incentives, legal frameworks, and registration processes. It presents findings from interviews conducted with 11 nonprofit organizations, incubators and social enterprises.

This report is part of an eleven-country series conducted across Southeast Asia. Read it here.

Civil Society Briefs

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

This series of briefs provides insights into the growth of civil society and nonprofit organizations in countries across Asia. Civil society comprises of a diverse range of individuals, community groups and organizations operating around shared purpose and values. The briefs spotlight the legal framework within which they operate and their broader relationship with government and society.

Read it here:

How BRAC, the world’s biggest charity, made Bangladesh richer

The Economist

This article delves into the role BRAC played in Bangladesh’s development. Although presently relying heavily on international funding, Bangladesh’s steady GDP growth may soon make BRAC ineligible for international development aid. This article provides recommendations for how BRAC can prepare and adapt to a changing funding landscape. Read it here.

Business for Good in East Asia

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) & Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation

This collection of articles examines the cross-sector collaborations driving social development and innovation in East Asia. Collaborative models deployed in China, Japan, Korea and Singapore are also discussed. Read it here.

Scaling Social Innovation in South Asia

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), BRAC & The Rockefeller Foundation

This collection of articles examines the lessons that BRAC and other leading social organizations have learned about successfully scaling social innovation in South Asia. The financial, political and organizational barriers that inhibit scaling are also discussed. Read it here.

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.