CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

26 May 2021 - 8 June 2021

Wang Xing, Founder of Meituan, gives big. Wang recently donated over US$2 billion worth of shares in the food-delivery giant to his philanthropic foundation. Meituan said the funds will go towards education and scientific research. Wang’s donation is in line with the recent trend of Chinese tech billionaires substantially increasing their philanthropic giving. Continue reading in The Wall Street Journal →

Companies in Asia set up Covid-19 inoculation programs for employees and their families. In India, companies including HCLBajaj Auto and Samsung India have launched employee vaccination campaigns. Japanese companies are also stepping up and inoculating employees, which will help the government double the number of daily vaccinations to 1 million. Companies in Southeast Asia rolled out similar initiatives in the second quarter of this year.

Terry Gou, Founder of Foxconn, pledges US$228 million to purchase 5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as Taiwan sees a spike in Covid-19 infections. The donation is expected to also cover the cost of transportation, cold chain logistics and storage, distribution, and administration. Continue reading in Taiwan News 

92% of youth-led enterprises in the Asia Pacific negatively impacted by Covid-19, according to Youth Co:Lab. The organization—co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation—recently launched their report, “How Young Entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific Responded to COVID-19.” It discloses how lockdowns, shrinking demand, supply chain disruptions and a credit crunch challenged these enterprises. They responded by pivoting business strategy, launching new products and services, and transforming business models. The report also showcases over 40 innovative youth-led solutions aiding the region’s Covid-19 recovery.

Japan’s impact investing market has potential to grow to ¥2.64 trillion (approximately US$24 billion). The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG-NAB) Japan recently launched their report, “The Current State and Challenges of Impact Investing in Japan.” It highlights trends in impact investing—including growing interest from corporates and the issuance of Japan’s first sustainability-linked bond—and forecasts market size. This is encouraging news as there is much room for growth; according to CAPS’ study Business for Good, only 9% of social enterprises in Japan receive private investment.

Asian philanthropists pool US$1.5 million to contribute 600,000 doses towards COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine target. Singapore-based Asia Philanthropy Circle raised this funding from 10 philanthropists and philanthropic organizations. Their pooled donation will be matched by a public charity through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, bringing total funding to US$3 million. Continue reading on Asia Philanthropy Circle’s website 

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

DECODED

Asia's social sector takes on Covid-19

Our DECODED series unpacks, explains and crystallizes issues critical for social investment in Asia. DECODED draws upon CAPS’ expertise in research, and access to an extensive network of sector experts and philanthropists in 18 Asian economies. This enables us to identify emerging trends in the region. Through DECODED, we translate these concepts into bite-sized, easy-to-understand insights.

This inaugural DECODED synthesizes how the social sector across Asia has risen to the occasion in responding to Covid-19, and what comes next. We end with recommendations for philanthropists, corporates and policymakers who want to invest in helping Asia’s social sectors thrive.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

16 March 2021 - 31 March 2021

After recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases, Cambodian government calls upon private sector for further assistance. One of Cambodia’s largest conglomerates, Prince Holding Group, and its chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi, answered the call with a fresh bequest of US$3 million. Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng and his family also contributed US$3 million, with an additional US$2 million to purchase Nokor Tep Hospital. Both Kith Meng and Chen Zhi are among a list of prominent business leaders who had already donated to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s vaccine efforts last December, contributing US$3 million each at that time.

Private equity fund ABC World Asia launches inaugural report detailing investment activities and impact performance. The report, “Journey to Impact in Asia,” showcases the performance of SG$98 million (approximately US$73 million) invested in five companies addressing challenges in climate, financial inclusion, healthcare, and sustainable agriculture in 2020. The fund aims to encourage more dialogue around impact investing in Asia by publicly sharing its framework for impact evaluation and its learning and experiences. In CAPS’ Business for Good, we highlight how impact investors can help incentivize other investors by publishing reports like this that showcase different approaches to investment and celebrate success stories. Continue reading in PR Newswire →

Swire Group reaffirms commitment to Hong Kong community with new HK$150 million (approximately US$20 million) charitable pledge. The new round of funding will go to TrustTomorrow, an initiative launched in early 2020 by the Group’s philanthropic arm Swire Trust. It will support around 30 projects, primarily in education, marine conservation and the arts, over the next three years. Continue reading in the South China Morning Post →

Survey of Indian bureaucrats highlights critical role of NGOs in pandemic response. The Centre for Policy Research survey, conducted in August-September 2020, polled over 500 officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The findings show that three out of five officers considered NGOs and civil society as critical partners in the pandemic response. Officers in more developed states, however, were less likely to consider NGOs as critical partners, suggesting they may be less dependent on them for meeting gaps in services. Continue reading in Live Mint →

Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan, eldest daughter of the King of Malaysia, launches social enterprise on mental health. The 28-year-old royal has launched Green Ribbon Group, a social enterprise that aims to combat mental health issues in Malaysia. It will seek to empower stakeholders involved in raising awareness around mental health, through advocacy, fundraising, and collaboration initiatives. Continue reading in CNA Luxury →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019: Ambitions beyond growth

UNESCAP

This report assesses the investment needed for the Asia Pacific region to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It argues that stable economic growth in recent years has come at the cost of heightened inequality and environmental degradation. Prioritizing GDP growth at all costs is no longer feasible nor desirable. An estimated US$1.5 trillion is needed per year for the region to meet the SDG 2030 target. The report charts the course to achieving this, highlighting the economic policies that can support structural transformations, necessary investments into human capital and the environment, and the regional and cross-sector collaborations that should be maximized. Read it here.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

02 March 2021 - 15 March 2021

In the latest for South China Morning Post, CAPS explains how China achieved its poverty alleviation goal by seasoning its ‘stone soup’ strategy. On February 25th, Xi Jinping announced that his signature campaign to eliminate absolute poverty was a success. CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Deputy Director of Advisory Services Angel Lin give insight into the four strategies—a focused campaign, aligned incentives, tracking poverty, and mobilizing resources—that helped China achieve this audacious goal. Continue reading in the South China Morning Post →

Family philanthropy in India has tripled since 2019, according to latest India Philanthropy Report. While other sources of private funding—foreign, corporate, and retail—remained stagnant, funding from individual philanthropists grew to approximately INR 12,000 crore (approximately US$1.7 billion) in FY2020. This accounts for almost two-thirds of the increase in funding during the pandemic. This rise in individual giving is welcome, as foreign funding saw its share of overall funding fall to 25% and corporate funding is set to decline. Continue reading in the Business World →

Singapore’s Temasek Holdings commits US$500 million to impact investing specialist LeapFrog Investments. This allocation by Temasek, the US$214 billion Singapore state-backed investment company, is the largest single commitment to a specialist impact investment manager, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Temasek hopes its commitment will encourage other large institutional investors to move into impact investing. Continue reading in the Financial Times →

Newly published report estimates 1 million social enterprises across South East Asia. The State of Social Enterprise in South East Asia, launched earlier this month by the British Council, collates research on social enterprises from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The report examines social enterprises’ activities, size and reach, as well as available government and financial support. CAPS also estimated there to be at least 1.2 million social enterprises in the six economies covered in Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia. Continue reading in Pioneers Post →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

04 February 2021 - 16 February 2021

Korean billionaire Kim Beom-su, founder of Kakao, vows to donate over half of his wealth. Kim, who has seen his wealth rise to US$7.9 billion during the pandemic, has pledged to donate more than half of his assets throughout his lifetime. Precise details of his donation have yet to be disclosed, but Kim is expected to make an official announcement soon according to Yonhap NewsContinue reading in Bloomberg Wealth →

Trive Ventures jointly launches US$2 million venture philanthropy fund with undisclosed Singapore-based family foundation. The “Tenacious Founders Venture Philanthropy Fund” will invest in Singapore-based entrepreneurs, aiming to be a short-term bridge for founders with limited financial resources. The fund will issue financial support up to US$75,000 per founder in the form of a redeemable SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) note. The family foundation involved has requested to remain anonymous. Continue reading in the Singapore Business Review →

In India, education, healthcare, and agriculture received the bulk of US$2.6 billion in impact investments in 2020. According to the Impact Investors Council’s 2020 annual report, India saw a rise in impact investment despite the global pandemic. The education sector had a marked year, with a 65% year-on-year growth in impact investment volumes. Impact investors also actively invested in early-stage healthcare and agriculture enterprises, showing increased interest in social enterprises that take care of people and the planet alike. Continue reading in Business Today →

All you need to know about the amendments to India’s CSR Act. The Government of India made amendments to the CSR Act last month, which are now effective. Samheeta Rao, partner at GameChanger Law Advisors, outlines these recent amendments and provides a comprehensive list of their implications for corporates and nonprofits. Continue reading on IDR’s website →

Prudence Foundation and partners launch second edition of the SAFE STEPS Disaster Tech (D-Tech) Awards. The Awards identify and scale technology solutions that save lives before, during, or after natural disasters. The Awards provide funding and expert coaching for the implementation and scaling of D-Tech solutions, as well as access to pitching and networking opportunities with humanitarian representatives, venture capital fund managers, and fellow entrepreneurs. Applications close on February 19. Continue reading on the Safe Steps website →

Have a story to share? Contact us at research@caps.org.

Role of philanthropy in the post-Covid era: Busting Boundaries to be Change Agents

Laurence Lien (Asia Philanthropy Circle)

Five years ago, when APC was first established, we began with a shared aspiration – that we need change agents to address Asia’s social challenges and that strategic and engaged philanthropists can be them.

Today amidst the greatest health and humanitarian challenge of our generation, the urgency for philanthropists to step up is even more pressing.

The study of boundaries is a critical one today. Problems are deeply interrelated. For example, Covid-19, a zoonotic disease, is a virus that jumped the boundary from nonhuman to human. And the impact of the disease spread has gone well beyond what is health-related, and has exposed and amplified the social inequities in the world.

Even before the Covid crisis, we have seen breakdowns resulting from boundaries not being sufficiently protected. This ranged from the #MeToo movement, triggered by personal boundaries being violated, to the globalisation crisis which germinated from the threats to national sovereignty and self-sufficiency. The climate emergency that we face is itself a result of humans failing in this age of Anthropocene to stay within the zone of stability and sustainability.

These crises are well-known. What is less understood though is the difficult work that lays ahead to address these challenges. More specifically, what is the role of philanthropists in dealing with problems that governments and businesses, with their infinitely vaster resources, cannot solve?

The road ahead is not problem solving that is more of the same. The same is everyone working in silos, when we need a united offensive. The same is sticking to single disciplines, when we need a multi-sectoral approach. And the same would be on fixing things through the tried and tested, when we need the messiness of systems transformation and leadership.

I would posit then that the heart of driving change lies in philanthropists busting boundaries in three ways: in our heads, in our hearts and in our hands.

In our heads, we need fresh ideas and new innovations. New insights often come from wading out to the edge of the boundary, often when it intersects with another, and marrying disconnected thoughts. Novel innovations often come from experimenting with these possibilities, and taking an evidence-based approach to grasp, understand and capture what works and what does not work.

Philanthropy, through offering patient, long-term capital then supports the unproven, early- stage high-risk/high-rewards interventions and organisations that other funders, e.g. government agencies, may struggle to fund.

In our hearts, we need deep compassion and true empathy. Compassion is critical to show that there is mutual care and support and to grow social capital that bridges heterogeneous groups, cutting across social cleavages in this divided world. Empathy goes even further: it helps one transcend boundaries to truly be in someone else’s shoes. With empathy, we can not only design better interventions, but also find the right partners and beneficiaries.

Philanthropy must go beyond being instrumental and transactional. It is about demonstrating care, in a reciprocal, social relationship. When it is seen as two-way, it creates social bonds and trust that in turn result in a stronger social fabric, which is the basis for collaboration and the joint creation of economic value.

Last but not least, through our hands, we need to get involved in the untidy action of crossing and busting boundaries, in order to deliver breakthroughs and systems change. The most creative ideas with the deepest passion would get nowhere if the groups we need to work with are maladaptive and fight back when challenged.

Philanthropy can identify and nurture systems leadership and entrepreneurship, mobilising coalitions of like-minded people who can continually reach out to and convert those who are on the “other side”. Sometimes this requires provoking the status quo, and sometimes it is about evoking a compelling shared vision.

Be it working with the head, heart or hands, the labour is tough. Philanthropists and impact sector leaders need to open up our individual boundaries to cooperate with others to address these complex, interdependent challenges.

So what has APC’s experience been these five years? On the positive side, more philanthropists than I expected are strategic; by which I mean they desire social impact as a primary goal. On the more challenging side, most want to pursue this on their own. Even when they want collaboration, the execution of joint action is tricky. We often have different conceptions of the pathway to impact, and there is no google map equivalent that can help find us a way there.

Overall, I would probably give the five-year scorecard an A-. While we would have liked to have had more members, the ones we have – 46 as I write this – have the right balance of head, heart and hands. They are also highly engaged, and we are able to have excellent programming, with deep learning and conversations.

We currently have 12 collaborative projects and funds catalysed by APC. Members do not just fund these projects, but also contribute their time and expertise. Many of these are greenfield projects, as we try to generate breakthroughs. And more than the direct impact, is the indirect one of demonstrating the benefits of working together.

Moving forward, we will continue to shape the future of Asian philanthropy, making strategic giving an ingrained value and making philanthropy more suited to our unique context. In doing this, we see each member as our ambassadors in philanthropy in their respective communities. And while we are strong in Southeast Asia, in the coming years, we will be expand our boundaries to include our friends from North and South Asia.

Ultimately, our goal is for local philanthropy to create disproportionate impact in solving problems in Asia. The journey is demanding, but we are full of hope, and invite other philanthropists working in Asia to join hands with us.

This excerpt has been published with the permission of APC. Their 2019/2020 Annual Report can be accessed here.

2021: Reflections and Outlook

13 January 2021

We welcome 2021 with hope, not only for successful vaccination programs, but also for a year of recovery and rebuilding.

The social sector—nonprofits, social enterprises, and private and corporate philanthropists—were critical partners as economies across Asia tried to contain the fallout from a multi-faceted crisis in 2020. In addition to the pandemic, Asia was hit with some of the worst natural disasters to date and saw waves of civil unrest from Hong Kong to Thailand to India. We summarize this response below. In a forthcoming paper, we will explore the impact Covid-19 had on social delivery organizations and how they responded. Meanwhile, we wanted to bring you a summary of the unprecedented corporate response to meet the urgent needs of society that the pandemic precipitated.

 

After the initial coronavirus outbreak in China, there was an immediate response from Chinese philanthropists and tech giants. Jack Ma was one of the first movers with a US$14.4 million donation for vaccine development, alongside donations from Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei, and ByteDance. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was also an early mover, escalating its contributions as the year went on.

As Covid spread to other countries in early March, donations and support ramped up across the region. Familiar names in philanthropy (Li Ka Shing, Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, to name a few) donated large sums. Some unfamiliar names cropped up, such as Kakao founder Kim Beom-su. And other Asian philanthropists began to send aid to the US and Europe as needs shifted.

When the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March 2020, CSR quickly took new shape, and some companies set up their own Covid-19 relief funds, including Alibaba (US$144 million), Tencent (US$100 million), Sony (US$100 million), Bajaj Group (US$14 million), and Godrej Group (US$7 million).

A number of ‘Prime Minister Relief Funds’ or similar taskforces were set up—and in turn, companies were encouraged to donate to them. This includes India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs announced that the spending of CSR funds towards Covid-19 initiatives would be counted as CSR activity under the Companies Act.

Donations were also channeled to public health research and vaccine development. China Vanke Co donated US$748 million to Tsinghua University to establish the Vanke School of Public Health. Uniqlo’s Tadashi Yanai donated US$93 million to Kyoto University for vaccine research.

Companies also took a “not business as usual” approach by pivoting their production lines or launching new operations to make medical supplies. This includes Japanese companies Sony, Toyota, Suntory, Mitsubishi Motors, Fast Retailing, and Shiseido, as well as Vingroup (Vietnam), Indorama Ventures (Thailand), Reliance (India), and New World Development (Hong Kong). Other companies donated their own F&B products to assuage food insecurity.

Major banks offered financial relief measures. Owners of major malls in the Philippines and Thailand offered rent relief for their tenants. Some companies diverted their advertising budgets for relief efforts or awareness-raising campaigns.

As the pandemic upended education globally, businesses stepped in to help bridge the digital divide. Companies provided digital tools (i.e., mobile phones and software), improved internet access for students, and offered digital literacy training. Mi India donated smartphones to students in under-resourced communities through Teach for India. PLDT teamed up with schools, Microsoft, and Google to make digital solutions more accessible for the education sector in the Philippines. Tencent leveraged their online learning platform to make online teaching accessible for 20 million students within a matter of days.

While these are just a few examples of how corporates rose to the occasion in 2020, it also underscores the need for even greater private social investment this year. But what might 2021 look like?

1.    Despite exacerbated CSR budgets, there will be growing political and social pressure on corporates to give more and do more.

2.    During Covid, many corporates leveraged the reach of and trust in nonprofits to distribute resources to those most in need. We expect this to continue as the social sector is well positioned to help maximize the reach and impact of CSR.

3.    Public-private partnerships (PPPs) will continue to grow in number and importance as economies focus on vaccine distribution and rebuilding. We also expect there to be an uptick in what we call “PPPs for social good” as the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in income, education, and other areas.

With increased corporate support in 2020, we are cautiously optimistic that they will continue to play a more active role alongside government and the social sector. As we monitor these developments, we will keep you apprised through our upcoming newsletters and research reports.

Best wishes for the year ahead!

The CAPS Team

Who’s Doing Good

08 December 2020 - 22 December 2020

THE THINKERS

Asia-Pacific governments must act now to unlock impact investment, urge GSG and UNESCAP. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) recently published their new report, “Towards an Enabling Policy Environment for Impact Investment in Asia and the Pacific.” The report examined impact investment ecosystems in 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, from those with advanced impact investment markets such as India and Singapore to those with nascent ones such as Brunei, Laos and Myanmar. The research highlighted best practices and concrete actions that governments can take to leverage the potential of impact investment and drive a sustainable economic recovery.

CUHK Business School research shows CSR activities by a corporate parent can help subsidiaries build trust in overseas markets. Covid-19 has accelerated the trend of companies being assessed on their social responsibility performance, but this can be complicated for multinational organizations operating in different countries and across diverse communities. In light of this, new research from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School has found that CSR activities conducted by the parent organization of a multinational company can positively influence the ability of overseas subsidiaries to operate in their respective markets. The study, titled, “Parent Firm Corporate Social Responsibility and Overseas Subsidiary Performance: A Signaling Perspective,” cross-referenced and analyzed the financial information, foreign domestic investment and CSR activities of 196 Japanese firms between 2002 and 2014. The research also looks into other factors, such as press freedom, that can impact the “halo” effect of the parent company’s CSR reputation.

THE BUSINESSES

Anil Agarwal Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partner to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition in India. Anil Agarwal Foundation has been leading Project Nand Ghar, an initiative aimed at transforming the Anganwadi ecosystem (rural, community-based mother and childcare centers) in India. The project focuses on modernizing infrastructure and enhancing services to eradicate child malnutrition, provide interactive education, enhance access to quality healthcare and empower women through skills development. The Gates Foundation has joined as a partner to help fund the transformation of the Anganwadi ecosystem and strengthen nutrition interventions in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Together, both foundations aim to support India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) as it works to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030.

Prudence Foundation launches second edition of SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards to find life-saving technologies for disaster resilience. Prudence Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Prudential in Asia and Africa, launched the second edition if its D-Tech Awards, which fund and scale technology solutions related to natural disasters. The awards are part of SAFE STEPS, a multi-platform awareness program developed by Prudence Foundation and its partners to provide life-saving information about natural disaster events, road safety and first aid. The award was created out of the belief that technology innovation can play a more significant role in improving disaster recovery and resilience. Applicants can win grants from a pool of US$200,000 to support the implementation and scaling of their D-Tech solutions. Semi-finalists and finalists gain access to expert coaching, pitching and networking opportunities with humanitarian representatives, venture capital fund managers and fellow tech entrepreneurs.

Chen Zhi and Prince Holding Group step up CSR initiatives. Prince Holding Group (PHG), one of the largest conglomerates in Cambodia, has made several large-scale donations to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic and assist flood victims. Earlier this year, PHG and its chairman Chen Zhi donated US$500,000 and provided supplies worth over US$600,000. Earlier this month, the Group and its chairman jointly donated US$3 million to Prime Minister Hun Sen to help Cambodia purchase 1 million Covid-19 vaccines. The Group also provided flood relief support, such as food and drinking water, and Chen Zhi personally donated US$500,00 to help flood-hit victims in early October.

THE INNOVATORS

Impact Investment Exchange launches US$27 million bond to help women in Asia rebuild livelihoods post-Covid. Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has issued its US$27 million Women’s Livelihood Bond 3 (WLB3). This is the third of its US$150 million Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB) series, which aims to create sustainable livelihoods for more than 3 million women in developing countries. WLB3 will support enterprises in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines that are directly supporting women to respond to or recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. The total bond size includes a US$24.7 million issuance and US$3 million subordinated debt provided by IIX’s newly launched Women’s Catalyst Fund as first-loss capital.

Sehat Kahani’s tele-ICU software connects 45 ICUs to critical care doctors in 45 days across Pakistan. The Pakistani health-tech social enterprise has successfully implemented its tele-ICU software in 45 out of 60 target ICUs thus far, as well as trained 800 doctors on critical care and the usage of the software. The tele-ICU platform allows doctors in intensive care units (ICUs) and high dependency units (HDUs) to connect to critical care specialists in real time, record patient information and conduct video consultations. The Tele-ICU Project was initiated with support from UN agencies, the Health Services Academy, the Ministry of Health and the Government of Balochistan. Sehat Kahani also recently partnered with the Ministry of Narcotics Control to launch a telemedicine helpline for youth in Pakistan. The helpline aims to support individuals who suffer from addiction by connecting them to counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Nepal’s Social Welfare Council’s role in partner organization selection may invite conflict of interest, international organizations say. In Nepal, international NGOs (INGOs) must select a local nonprofit in order to register in the country. While the Social Welfare Council has traditionally tried to avoid conflict of interest by allowing a third party to evaluate the works of INGOs, its new directive has made it mandatory for them to involve the council when selecting their local partners. Representatives of INGOs have expressed concern, saying that the involvement of council officials could influence the selection of local partners and goes against its own policy that has sought to mitigate conflict of interest.

We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at research@caps.org.

Who’s Doing Good

10 November 2020 - 23 November 2020

THE GIVERS

Azim Premji tops EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020. In addition, Premji is also recognized for being one of the world’s leading donors to Covid-19 relief efforts, with a combined donation of Rs1,125 crore (approximately US$152 million) from Wipro, Wipro Enterprises, and the Azim Premji Foundation. Shiv Nadar, founder-chairman of HCL, ranks second, followed by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries. The list showcases a total of 112 people, whose combined donations increased by 175% to INR12,050 crore (approximately US$1.6 billion) in 2020.

Forbes Asia releases its 14th annual Heroes of Philanthropy list. While this year’s list is unranked and excludes donations made by companies, it shines a light on 15 individual philanthropists in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of this year’s biggest donors focused on the Covid-19 pandemic: Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing gave US$32 million to various aid initiatives and Japan’s Tadashi Yanai gave US$105 million to research and vaccine development. Other philanthropists, like Vietnam’s Pham Nhat Vuong, continued to contribute to causes such as education, alongside contributing to relief efforts.

THE THINKERS

Finding the way forward in post-Covid-19 Asia. Covid-19 has made it clear that governments, donors, and the social sector all have an indispensable role in helping societies build back stronger from the pandemic. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights the strengths and opportunities for 18 economies in Asia to build a more enabling environment for such philanthropy to reach the neediest. In our latest webinar series, CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed share country-specific findings on PakistanIndiaKoreaMalaysiaNepal, and Hong Kong.

THE NONPROFITS

Educate Girls among the world’s 100 most inspiring innovations in K12 education. The nonprofit, which works for girls’ education in the remotest villages of India, has announced its selection in HundrED 2021 Global Collection—an annual list that highlights 100 of the most impactful innovations in K12 education from around the world. Educate Girls’ innovation was reviewed by 150 Academy Members consisting of academics, educators, innovators, funders, and leaders from over 50 countries. Since 2007, Educate Girls has enrolled over 750,000 girls in schools, improving learning outcomes for over 1.3 million children. The nonprofit is also well-known for spearheading the world’s first Development Impact Bond in education.

THE BUSINESSES

Interview with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala on how businesses can be a force for good. In conversation with the McKinsey Quarterly, the chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation discusses macro trends among businesses in Asia and how they’re responding to complex challenges during Covid-19. In the interview, Ayala describes his own learnings and how the Ayala Group responded to the pandemic by prioritizing its employees, upholding its broad ecosystem, and supporting the community at large, especially those most economically vulnerable. The Group also joined forces with other companies to support the government in meeting the immediate needs of communities—underscoring the importance of partnership at a time when both the will and resources required are beyond any one sector’s capacity to provide.

Social bonds strengthen foothold in Asia credit market. Globally, issuance of social bonds shot up more than five times to approximately US$105 billion as of October 2020. Amidst Covid-19, new debt is being increasingly redirected to social and sustainability bonds targeted at supporting rising public health needs and growing economic disparity. This is true in Asia, too, where distribution of social bonds rose 29% this year through June 15 from a year earlier. This augurs well for the region, where Asian governments and institutions have been slow to issue social bonds. Yet, this redirection comes at a cost: green bond issuance in Asia-Pacific in the second quarter of 2020 fell to its lowest level in more than three years.

THE INNOVATORS

The Australian Government and Macquarie Group Foundation support Filipina entrepreneurs. Together with the Macquarie Group Foundation, Australia is committing to an investment program of over P43 million (approximately US$900,000) to aid Filipino women who own small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs (RISE) Fund aims to help the Philippines build back better by supporting women-led SMEs. Australian ambassador to the Philippines stressed that Filipino women “will play a central role in the recovery from Covid-19 and should have an equal part in a more resilient, inclusive, and broad-based Philippines.”

ABAC Indonesia, Mandiri Capital join forces to invest in start-ups with social impact. APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Indonesia, the private-sector arm of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, has partnered with venture capital firm Mandiri Capital to launch a new fund that will invest in startups with social impact. The Indonesia Impact Fund (IIF) will focus on investing in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups related to five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): poverty alleviation, sustainable cities and affordable housing, high-quality and accessible education, increased economic participation for women, and affordable health care. The firm aims to raise US$10 million in assets under management by its first close of funding in the second quarter of 2021.

We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at research@caps.org.