Ramon Ang recognized for Covid-19 response efforts at the Asia CEO Awards 2020. San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang was given the Lifetime Contributor Award at the Asia CEO Awards 2020, the largest business awards event in Southeast Asia. Ang was recognized for both his long-term contributions to the Philippines and his response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ang has been at the helm of SMC’s outreach program, which has distributed over Php13.180 billion (approximately US$273 million) in aid during the pandemic. SMC also spearheaded blood donation drives, built temporary quarantine facilities, distributed RT-PCR machines and test kits, and donated food and medical equipment. In addition, the company pivoted its business by repurposing liquor plants to manufacture alcohol disinfectant, and has recently announced the creation of the RSA Foundation to build a hospital specializing in infectious disease research. Despite the economic downturn, SMC has committed to continuing its current infrastructure projects and environmental programs focused on rehabilitating the Tullahan-Tinajeros River and the mangroves around Bulacan and Central Luzon.
An analysis of Chinese charitable trusts in 2020: pandemic-driven development. In the first half of 2020, 142 new charitable trusts were established in China, surpassing the usual figures for a whole year. The total assets of these newcomers reached ¥263 million (approximately US$40 million). These new trusts have played an important role in aiding the prevention and control of Covid-19. Although most have been set up for short-term pandemic-relief, many are also working in poverty alleviation, education, and other development areas. This surge in trusts comes from organizations that want to contribute to pandemic relief establishing charitable trusts, since the trust structure offers greater flexibility and more robust supervision. Yet they also have shortcomings: charitable trusts have yet to receive any concrete, preferential tax policies.
China recruits Korean conglomerate to advise on ESG. Bloomberg reports on Beijing’s recent efforts to push companies to make ESG disclosures. Beijing recently tapped SK Group to help accelerate these efforts, since the Korean conglomerate has been leading ESG adoption in Asia. SK said it will team up with China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees the country’s government-run companies, to jointly establish a lab in Beijing to study and develop rating methods for ESG practices. While China has pledged to make its nearly 4,000 listed corporates publish ESG metrics by the end of this year, progress has been lagging. But with Covid-19 spurring inflows into ESG-related assets, there is greater imperative for companies to improve their ESG practices in order to access a share of the trillions of dollars currently invested in the ESG arena.
Nando’s Malaysia launches food donation program to help those in need while tackling excess food issues. Last week we reported on companies and nonprofits in Singapore working to bridge the food waste and food insecurity gap. As food insecurity worsens amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, similar initiatives have emerged across the region. In Malaysia, Nando’s has launched a food donation program “No Chuckin Our Chicken”, in conjunction with its ongoing community outreach efforts. The program allows the company to eliminate food wastage, while continuing to improve food supply and security for communities in need. The program involves 11 Nando’s outlets across Malaysia that have partnered with Kechara Soup Kitchen, The Lost Food Project, Malaysia Relief Agency Sabah, and other organizations. Throughout the pandemic, Nando’s Malaysia has collectively delivered MYR135,000 (approximately US$33,000) worth of food and supplies to local communities with the help of 17 charity partners. The “No Chuckin Our Chicken” program will be a permanent ongoing effort.
Uniqlo helps over 10,000 people through partnership with charity: water. Japanese fashion company Uniqlo is helping more than 10,000 people across India, Cambodia, Malawi, and Madagascar attain clean and drinkable water through its partnership with nonprofit charity: water. Uniqlo agreed to donate the proceeds of its €0.10 fee for paper bags at its stores to raise funds for the charity and reduce single-use plastic bags. The partnership will fund four different clean water solutions, two of which are in Asia: rainwater harvesting tanks in the Thar Desert in India and bio-sand filters in homes and schools in Cambodia.
NGO People In Need Cambodia and ArrowDot partner to develop tech solutions for disaster prevention. In 2013, People In Need Cambodia launched its Early Warning System 1294, a mobile phone-based public alert system for natural disasters. The nonprofit recently came up with the idea for Tep Machcha, a solar-powered device that gauges water levels and monitors the data to make reliable predictions of weather events. It partnered with ArrowDot, an IoT solutions company, to design, manufacture, and install the device in flood-prone areas—so far, 43 Tep Machcha devices have been installed nationwide. If water levels reach a dangerous depth, the online server sends a warning to the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM), which then sends mobile alerts to over 100,000 citizens enrolled in the Early Warning System 1294. The development and implementation of this tech-enabled solution offers an example of how the private sector can help accelerate innovation in the social sector.
Bridging the credit gap for India’s impact enterprises. Impact investors have committed around US$11 billion in impact capital in India in the past decade, and US$2.7 billion last year alone. However, more than 70% of these commitments are in the form of equity, and debt capital remains in short supply. For India’s two million social enterprises, this lack of access to credit and working capital is hindering the growth of the sector. In a new report, India Impact Investing Council and Bridgespan detail the barriers enterprises face in accessing credit, including perceived risk, unproven business models, and slim or no credit files. The report advocates for customizable tools including collateral-based senior debt, unsecured junior debt, quasi-equity, and grant-based finance to bridge the gap. The report also points out a strong need and opportunity for foundations to support the build out of debt financing, particularly for overlooked sectors like agriculture and healthcare. CAPS’ Business for Good study also speaks to the dearth of financing options for budding social enterprises, and urges impact investors to consider deploying their investment capital through a range of asset classes.
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