In the blink of an eye 2021 is drawing to a close. This year, Asia’s social sector has shown enormous resilience in the face of challenges on multiple fronts and has demonstrated the ability to adapt to the long-term impacts of pandemic disruption.
We’ve seen the morphing of the boundaries that lie between profit and purpose: NGOs have found second income streams, governments have procured the services of social enterprises, and public-private partnerships have emerged in new areas in an effort to address community and social needs.
The increasing willingness of stakeholders to experiment with market mechanisms to attract private capital has seen innovation in the area of blended finance. As always, CAPS is committed to keeping you abreast of these emerging trends in the social sector. In the new year, we will be releasing a briefing on the topic of blended finance, covering themes such as social impact bonds, public-private partnerships and social stock exchanges.
2021 was also a year in which we saw ESG considerations shift from a “nice to have” to an almost essential part of any credible business model. Corporations can no longer position themselves as separate from social and environmental issues, and investors are turning up the heat on those who have been slow to demonstrate a commitment to a more sustainable and socially responsible future.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season,
Ruth A. Shapiro
Co-Founder and Chief Executive
Forbes Asia’s 2021 Heroes of Philanthropy. 15 prominent givers are on the list, including CAPS’ Chair Ronnie C. Chan, who, along with his brother Gerald, has been a key figure in education philanthropy. Cho Tak Wong (Fuyao Glass Industry Group), Rina Lopez Bautista (Knowledge Channel Foundation), Azim Premji (Wipro), Jeffrey Cheah (Sunway Group), Lin Chen-Hai (Pau Jar Group), Takemitsu Takizaki (Keyence), Michael Kim (MBK Partners) and Joseph Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai have been recognized for their contributions to learning and education. Kin Jung-Ju (Nexon) and Anil Agarwal (Vendata Resources) are lauded for their efforts in the areas of healthcare, Pham Nhat Vuong (Vingroup) and Teresita Sy-Coson (SM Investments) for pandemic recovery donations, and Wee Wei Ling (Pan Pacific Hotels Group) for her commitment to disability inclusion. Continue reading in Forbes Asia →
Donations for schools, universities across the region. Robin Zeng, founder and Chairman of Chinese battery producer CATL, pledges US$206 million to his alma mater, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Philanthropists Mahmudul Huq and Monisha Anwar Huq donate ৳38 million (approximately US$440,534) to Independent University, Bangladesh, through their endowment trust. And BASF Vietnam joins forces with partner companies to break ground on its sixth school renovation project in rural areas.
Boosting support for small businesses, entrepreneurs. In India, tech corporations including Microsoft and Accenture look at ways to go beyond “chequebook philanthropy”, offering technical support and mentorships to startups looking to scale solutions to social problems. In Cambodia, state-owned Khmer Enterprise is working with Oxfam and Platform Impact Co to accelerate and grow SMEs, while at the same time educating entrepreneurs about social and environmental considerations for businesses that plan to reach international markets.
Companies in Asia make bold commitments in sustainability push. Malaysia’s CIMB Group pledges RM30 billion (approximately US$7.133 billion) for sustainable financing as part of its mission to become a regional leader for sustainability. CMFL Hong Kong signs its first sustainability-linked term loan worth US$445.7 million, a reflection of the increasing urgency for the shipping sector to implement ESG practices. HSBC Indonesia’s president director says partnership is key to meeting the climate change financing gap. The company is planning US$1 trillion in sustainable finance and investments globally by 2030. The Philippines’ Aboitiz Foundation partners with national and local government to innovate around community disaster and climate change adaptation. India Climate Collaborative, writing for The Times of India, highlights the role of private funds in meeting environmental challenges: “Philanthropic capital has an indispensable role to play in the crisis, given its intrinsic ability to be patient, flexible, compassionate, and ambitious.”
New reports on the state of the social sector, philanthropy. The US Agency for International Development releases its 2020 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index for Asia, covering key issues in eight economies across the region. Unsurprisingly, the ongoing pandemic emerges as a key challenge facing civil society organizations, as are political tensions, movement of refugees and the tightening of regulations by governments. And Mercer’s latest report looks at the top considerations for endowments and foundations in 2022, highlighting how growing Chinese wealth, sustainability and impact investing will likely affect the business of doing good in the coming year.
Communities come together to do good. Shanghai’s charity month goes digital, with a new online donation platform launched via the city’s public service app. It is hoped that the greater ease of donation will encourage more people to give, directing funds towards supporting at-need households in Shanghai. And rural Cambodian district Tboung Khmum constructs 667 wells thanks to philanthropic donations from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
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