Charitable funds boost donation in a tough year for giving. Straits Times highlights how more wealthy people in Singapore are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to charities. According to this article, there were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore during the financial year ending in March 2020. Despite many donors tightening their belts during Covid-19, these charitable funds disbursed SG$20.2 million (approximately US$15 million) during that year.
Hong Kong organizations hoping charity begins at home as economic crunch sees donations dry up. The impact of last year’s civil unrest and Covid-19 has left many Hong Kong charities on the brink of collapse. South China Morning Post spotlights Hong Kong foundations that are stepping in to meet the demand for funding. One example includes Jennifer Chen, CEO of Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, who is leading a campaign called “Bridge the Gap”. The initiative calls on residents to donate all or part of their HK$10,000 (approximately US$1,300) government relief payout to NGOs in need. The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, Fu Tak Iam Foundation, and The Hong Kong Club Foundation will match these public donations up to specified amounts for at least 25 local organizations in need.
A call to digitize Bangladesh’s NGO Affairs Bureau. In this op-ed, associates of The Legal Circle in Bangladesh argue that the government should take immediate measures to digitize the registration process for NGOs. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that Bangladesh has one of the longest and most complex registration procedures in Asia. According to this article, there is a severe backlog of registrations, in part due to the influx of NGOs responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis. This backlog is expected to get worse with the Covid-19 pandemic. Digitizing the registration process, they argue, is not only aligned with the government’s vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, but it will also allow NGOs to set up more efficiently and help the country re-build after the crisis.
Capital markets lawyers sharpen impact investing skills. Financial Times highlights how pro bono work in Asia is evolving to embrace new areas of legal expertise, even as Covid-19 restrictions limit traditional pro bono work. This article argues that a longer-term shift towards impact investing—as well as an urgent need for funding in the NGO sector—provides lawyers with an opportunity to contribute their legal expertise in capital markets. The article cites the example of lawyers working pro bono on Impact Investment Exchange’s Women’s Livelihood Bond deal. Since deals in the impact investing space tend to raise smaller sums, legal services priced at market rates would mean very high fees relative to the deal size. Pro bono legal services offer an opportunity to help get this new market off the ground.
Huawei begins ‘Seeds for the Future 2020’ in Bangladesh. Huawei’s flagship CSR program ‘Seeds for the Future’ aims to develop global ICT (information and communication technology) talent by bridging the gap between academic and industry knowledge. The program is part of the company’s long-term CSR activity dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ICT students worldwide. Seeds for the Future has benefitted over 30,000 students around the world, and has recently expanded to Bangladesh. The program aims to help the country achieve its ‘Vision of Digital Bangladesh 2021’ plan by equipping youth with ICT skills that will help them innovate local solutions for local needs.
Mi India pledges 2,500 smartphones worth Rs 2 crores (approximately US$300,000) towards digital inclusion. In addition to recent initiatives to help over 200,000 families affected by Covid-19 and 10,000 families impacted by Cyclone Amphan, Mi India announced a new donation of 2,500 smartphones to students in need. Mi India has partnered with Teach For India, which has shifted to blended learning during India’s lockdown, to distribute phones to children from under-resourced communities and help them access online classes.
Four lessons for launching a social enterprise. In Stanford Social Innovation Review, the founder and team members of Mauqa Online share their lessons from launching and expanding their social enterprise in Pakistan. By sharing what they wish they had done differently at certain points of growth, they hope to help the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they encourage social entrepreneurs to use the enterprise’s social mission to help guide decision making along the way.
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