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.

Who’s Doing Good

29 September 2020 - 12 October 2020
The Doing Good Index interactive site is now live! Packed with data from 18 Asian economies, the Doing Good Index 2020 studies the environment in which private capital meets societal needs. You can now compare how one economy performs against the Asia average, or even another economy, across four areas: Regulations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Ecosystem, and Procurement. Please visit: doinggoodindex.caps.orgAs Covid-19 increases the imperative for the public, private, and social sectors to work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable Asia, the Doing Good Index shows who can do what.

THE GIVERS

Raymond Roy Wong, Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of journalism’, donates HK$50 million (US$6.45 million) to Baptist University school of communication. The donation will be used to establish the Dorothy Shen Wong Memorial Fund, in honor of Wong’s late wife. The fund will support the teaching of media ethics, help advance practicing journalists, and provide scholarships for outstanding journalism students. The donation will also go towards setting up the first-ever Endowed Professorship in Media Ethics and Professional Journalism Fellowship at the university, alongside scholarships for students to acquire global exposure in the journalism field. Wong’s donation is the biggest single donation the school has received to date.

In the Philippines, tax perks await donors of computers and supplies to public schools. With schools having to transition to blended learning and online classes during Covid-19, donations of needed technology to public schools will now be rewarded with tax deductions. These new tax perks under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will be applied to donations of personal computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, printers, and other similar equipment. During the implementation period of the Bayanihan 2 Law (September 15 to December 19, 2020), corporate and individual donors will qualify for deductions from their gross income equivalent to the amount of donation. Further, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said that foreign donations will be exempt from value-added tax (VAT) as well as the requirement for ‘authority to release imported goods’ (ATRIG) to speed up the distribution of donations.

THE BUSINESSES

Companies in the Philippines are stepping up to support distance learning during Covid-19. Coca-Cola Philippines donated 200 desktop computers to its employees to support distance learning for their children during the pandemic. Gokongwei Brothers Foundation and Robinson’s Land Corporation donated 50 desktop computers and 10 laptops to Pasig City to support the local government unit’s fight against Covid-19. PLDT, its subsidiary Smart Communications, and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, as well as Microsoft and Google, to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector. This includes discounted PLDT Home Wifi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi units, pre-loaded 5G-ready SIM cards, and software licenses, among other digital solutions.

Philippine conglomerate Ayala closes new VC fund at US$180 million. Ayala Corporation’s new global venture capital fund is now the largest VC fund to emerge out of the Philippines. The Active Fund—short for Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture—plans to inject between US$2 million to US$10 million into global startups in their series A to series D stages. The Fund will focus on fintech, ecommerce, construction tech, and proptech ventures, as well as companies aiming to solve urban city issues in Asia. The fund will be managed by Kickstart Ventures, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom.

Sony doubles down on ESG goals amid coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Sony adopted an official mandate to increase its focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors and be an active stakeholder in the global community. During Covid-19, Sony has accelerated its ESG initiatives, including the launch of its own US$100 million fund for Covid-19 relief efforts in March. In addition to donating to education—such as supplying free programming learning kits in Japan, China, and the United States—the company has also deployed funds to aid those in the music industry. As part of its environmental initiatives, Sony has set up a separate fund to support startups developing environmental technologies, with plans to invest US$9.46 million over the course of the next three to five years. Alongside these and other ESG efforts, the company also aims to achieve a “zero environmental footprint” by 2050.

NagaWorld Kind Hearts donates US$2 million to Water Wells Foundation. NagaWorld Kind Hearts, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of NagaWorld, Cambodia’s largest hotel and gaming resort, announced a US$2 million donation to the Water Wells Foundation. This donation is NagaWorld’s answer to the Royal Government’s call for assistance in the sustainable rural development of Cambodia. Since 2014, NagaWorld Kind Hearts has conducted a range of CSR activities in Cambodia focused on education enhancement, community engagement, sports development, and environmental care, as well as aiding the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts over the past year.

THE INNOVATORS

Indonesia may have quietly beaten dengue fever. Indonesian researchers have quietly achieved a major breakthrough that could lead to the elimination of dengue fever—a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 8 million Indonesians per year. Working with the Tahija Foundation and Jogjakarta’s Gadja Mahda University, the World Mosquito Program has made stunning strides in efforts to reduce incidences of dengue in parts of Indonesia. This article details how trials in Jogjakarta have successfully increased the percentage of mosquitos with Wolbachia, which can help block the transmission of dengue and other viruses like zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This development is timely as Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported in June 2020 that 400 cities and districts across the country have recorded cases of double infection, where dengue and Covid-19 have occurred together in one patient.

Bridging the food waste and food insecurity gap: how Singaporeans are doing their part. Singapore’s food waste has risen by one fifth in the last decade, yet many remain without access to nutritious meals. This article highlights some recent innovations—from virtual food banking apps to social enterprise cloud kitchens—and how government, businesses, and nonprofits are coming together to ensure quality food donations and efficient distribution. These innovations and collaborations are also giving a boost to struggling sectors of the economy, such as the F&B industry. New sources of funding are also emerging in this area: DBS Foundation introduced a new Zero Food Waste category to its grant program this year and the government’s National Environment Agency announced a SG$1.76 million (approximately US$1.3 million) Food Waste Fund to cover the cost of implementing food waste treatment solutions for local organizations.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Tencent’s 9/9 Charity Day breaks fundraising records once again, but gains are unequally distributed. The year’s 9/9 Charity Day raised a record-breaking total of nearly US$450 million in donations. However, a recent report by the Charity Forum found that one-third of the total donations went to four big organizations—the Chongqing Charity Federation, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children, and Henan and Shaanxi provincial charity federations—all of which are organized and backed by the state. This leaves hundreds of smaller nonprofits and grassroots organizations competing for the remaining donations. Another report by Sixth Tone also raises the concern that after years of competing with these charity giants, some smaller nonprofits have ceased to participate at all.

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

15 September 2020 - 28 September 2020

THE GIVERS

Philanthropists in Indonesia rally to support arts during crisis. Indonesia’s philanthropists are calling upon their peers to support the arts during Covid-19, pointing to the creative industry’s role in propping up regional economies across the country. However, Indonesian Arts Coalition board executive Linda Hoemar Abidin points out that there are a number of regulatory bottlenecks that prevent corporate and individual philanthropists from donating to the sector. One example is that only up to 5% of corporate income is eligible for tax deductions for charitable donations. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that Indonesia has one of the lowest limits on eligible income, virtually cancelling out the incentivizing effect of tax deductions. The former finance minister suggested allowing wider tax breaks as part of the government’s super deduction tax program—issued last year—to encourage businesses and philanthropists to fund the creative industry. The super tax deduction initiative offers a major tax cut of up to 300% aimed at boosting investment, research and development, and the participation of businesses in improving Indonesia’s human resources.

Hong Kong’s richest man steps up donations amid downturn. Li Ka-shing’s charity is donating HK$170 million (US$22 million) to four local universities to further aid the city, which has been battered by political turmoil, Covid-19, and an economic downturn. The donation will be used to help establish biochemistry, biomedical, and sustainable technology research facilities, as well as artificial intelligence learning and teaching solutions. In a statement from the charity, Li said that he made the donation “to advance education excellence amidst uncertainties.” Li has already given away at least US$206 million in the past year to local universities, small businesses, and medical services in Hong Kong amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tencent co-founder Charles Chen’s Yidan Prize unveils 2020 award winners. The Yidan Prize Foundation, a global philanthropic education foundation set up by Charles Chen, announced the winners of its 2020 Yidan Prize. The prize recognizes individuals and teams who have contributed significantly to education research and education development. This year the Yidan Prize for Education Research will be awarded to Stanford University Professor Carl Weiman. The Yidan Prize for Education Development will be awarded to Lucy Lake and Angeline Murimirwa from the Campaign for Female Education. Charles Chen lauded the laureates in a statement, “The outstanding achievements and commitment of this year’s laureates demonstrate that in a post-pandemic world, education continues to be of vital importance to solving future problems and creating positive change in individuals, communities, and the environment.” 

THE BUSINESSES

Walmart Foundation announces two new grants to help India’s smallholder farmers. The philanthropy arm of retail giant Walmart announced two new grants totaling US$4.5 million to help improve farmer livelihoods in India. Specifically, the grants will help two NGOs, Tanager and PRADAN, to scale their efforts in helping farmers. Tanager will receiver over US$2.6 million to extend its Farmer Market Readiness Program and help farmers in Andhra Pradesh. PRADAN will receive US$1.9 million to launch its Livelihood Enhancement through Market Access and Women Empowerment (LEAP) program in West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand in eastern India. These two grants are part of a commitment Walmart made in September 2018 to invest US$25 million over five years for improving farmer livelihoods in India. 

Citi steps up its commitment to youth employment, skills development, and innovation across Asia Pacific. Citi and the Citi Foundation will collectively invest US$35 million in philanthropic contributions and grants by 2023 to improve the employability of youth from low-income and underserved communities in Asia. The bank will also offer 6,000 jobs and 60,000 skills training opportunities for young people at Citi Asia over the next three years. This regional commitment is part of Citi’s expanded global “Pathways to Progress” initiative, which is designed to equip young people with the skills and confidence to improve their employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and make a positive impact in their communities.

Swire Group’s “TrustTomorrow” pledges HK$14 million (approximately US$2 million) for community funding. The TrustTomorrow initiative will fund relief support, benefitting over 100,000 people in Hong Kong through 85 organizations. The initiative aims to support vulnerable groups most affected by the pandemic through efforts focused on food, hygiene, family wellbeing, and social capital. The initiative will also focus on strengthening NGOs during the pandemic by offering in-depth auditing to evaluate where they stand in terms of their digital strategy and what gaps to fill to strengthen their services and operations. TrustTomorrow is larger than just pandemic relief efforts though: the long-term vision of the program is to bring lasting benefits and opportunities to “build a better tomorrow for Hong Kong”. This includes supporting areas such as education, marine conservation, and the arts.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek invests in sustainable water fund. A clean-water venture capital fund from clean technology investor Emerald Technology Ventures has attracted US$100 million in commitments. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek is the cornerstone investor, joined by Microsoft, water technology firm SKion Water, water provider Ecolab, and others. The fund is also supported by Enterprise Singapore, a government agency. The fund will invest in early- to expansion-stage businesses that address water challenges around the world. This includes financing technologies that conserve water resources, support sustainable cities, improve resource efficiency, adapt to climate change, and reduce health risks. Emerald Technology Ventures is expanding in the Asia-Pacific region. It opened a Singapore office last year to house a water technology incubator to support local companies.

THE NONPROFITS

Singapore to help charities go digital, boost transparency. Singapore plans to roll out three initiatives later this year to help charities strengthen their digital capability, regulatory compliance, and transparency. First, the Charities GoDigital Kit will be launched to help charities build their digital capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will revise and publish a new transparency framework that helps charities of different sizes define their policy and approach to transparency—ultimately helping them build trust with donors and stakeholders. Third, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Law Society Pro Bono Services, and Shared Services for Charities have been added to a list of partners who help charities in Singapore access IT solutions, recruit talent, and file annual reports and financial statements at low or no cost. Offering these shared services will help enable charities to be more transparent and productive by allowing them to outsource this work and focus on their activities and programs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Amnesty suspends India operations after accounts are frozen. Financial Times reports on how Amnesty International is suspending its operations in India after the government has frozen its bank account. Amnesty has had to halt its work and lay off 140 Indian staff members. The Enforcement Directorate, the agency responsible for freezing Amnesty’s bank accounts, has yet to make a statement.

FCRA amendments hurt India’s development and democracy. In her op-ed for Bloomberg, Ingrid Srinath, founding director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, discusses how amendments to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) pose potential hazards to development and democracy in India. Srinath focuses on four of the proposed amendments: the ban on regranting FCRA funds to other FCRA registered organizations; the 20% cap on ‘overhead’ spending; the requirement to provide Aadhaar details of board members and senior functionaries; and the mandate to route all FCRA funds through the State Bank of India, New Delhi. She warns how these amendments could hinder collaboration—a cornerstone of India’s Covid-19 relief efforts—as well as talent recruitment, innovation, and impact measurement in the sector. These amendments will also increase the regulatory burden for social sector organizations, therefore disadvantaging smaller, rural, and grassroots nonprofits. Noshir Dadrawala at the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy also explains the proposed changes in more detail in this article. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 also found that growing oversight of nonprofits receiving foreign funding is having a dampening effect on the sector. 

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

01 September 2020 - 14 September 2020

THE GIVERS

Charitable bequests on the rise in Japan. Data disclosed by the National Tax Agency show that charitable bequests are on the rise in Japan with US$440 million donated in 2018, compared to US$58 million in 2010. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights how Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines stand out as the few economies in Asia that offer tax incentives for giving upon death in the form of charitable bequests. According to a survey by the Japan Succession Donation Association, 22.9% of respondents, ages 50-70, said they have considered making a charitable bequest upon death. However, challenges remain as only 1.2% of respondents said they have taken steps to make a bequest by writing a will or through other means.

Asian families shift priorities to community Covid relief. This article highlights how some family offices in Asia are switching their priorities for their impact investments towards supporting local communities impacted by the pandemic. Covid-19 has compelled some family offices to ‘double down’ on their funding efforts, as well as spurred greater collaboration between like-minded family offices. This includes new efforts to support social enterprises, such as the Community Resilience Fund in Hong Kong that provides liquidity support for social enterprises and helps them adapt and continue to support their local community. The Fund was initiated in March 2020 under the auspices of Hong Kong family office RS Group and Social Ventures Hong Kong (SVHK), and it is jointly operated by the Sustainable Finance Initiative.

THE BUSINESSES

This year’s “99 Giving Day” breaks record for China internet charity platform by Tencent. Since its establishment in 2015, “99 Giving Day” is considered the most popular annual charity festival in China, jointly initiated by Tencent Charity Foundation and thousands of other charity organizations, enterprises, celebrities, and media. With the theme of “Together We Can,” this year’s event raised a total donation of ¥3.044 billion (nearly US$500 million). More than 5,780 donors, 500 institutions, and 10,000 enterprises participated in the campaign, which broke the record for online giving in China. This year’s event also featured new tools to address transparency and challenges amidst Covid-19, such as charity consumption coupons and blockchain technology, amongst other new initiatives. Also, Tencent Charity Foundation announced that this year it would invest ¥399.9 million (nearly US$60 million) in matching donations.

Alibaba Group launches fourth annual Philanthropy Week with a series of initiatives designed to make giving easier and more transparent. The event featured close to 100 online and offline philanthropic activities, from ensuring nutritious meals reach impoverished children in China to promoting environmental awareness through recycling programs. To increase transparency and encourage donors to give confidently, all contributions are fully trackable with Alibaba’s “Charities on the Chain” solution, which was developed with Ant Group’s blockchain team so that users can see exactly where their donations are going and how they are being used. 

Ayala chief: Malls should provide more services to tenants. CEO of Ayala Corp Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said that mall operators need to adapt during Covid-19 and provide more services to help their tenants whose businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Ayala notes that these added services could come in the form of logistics support or more storage space for their tenants’ stocks as online shopping grows in popularity. For example, last month Ayala Malls launched its online Neighborhood Assistant service, which allows customers to shop via the website of their nearest Ayala Mall. SM Prime Holdings, the country’s biggest mall operator, also stated that it was investing PHP 100 million (approximately US$2 million) on expanding its e-commerce presence.

UOB’s private equity arm achieves impact milestone. UOB Venture Management has issued its disclosure statement on the Operating Principles for Impact Management, making it the first Southeast Asian signatory of the Impact Principles (initiated by the World Bank Group), according to the bank. The firm has also recently obtained verification from Ernst & Young for its Asia Impact Investment Fund’s alignment with the principles. Launched in 2015 together with Credit Suisse, the US$55 million fund invests in high-growth companies from the education, healthcare, and agriculture sectors in Southeast Asia and China, which help to improve financial inclusion, affordable housing, sanitation, clean energy, and water for the region’s low-income communities.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Red Cross, and local social enterprise team up to create clean and green care kits for migrant workers and low-income families. More than 300 Marina Bay Sands staff from over 40 departments packed 10,000 care kits in partnership with social enterprise Clean the World Asia and the Singapore Red Cross. Each kit contains essential items such as soap bars and soap bags, hand sanitizer, shampoo, hair conditioner, and surgical face masks. The soap bars are made from discarded soap from Marina Bay Sands’ premises and processed with the help of Clean the World Asia’s soap recycling facilities. The kits will be distributed to beneficiaries of the Singapore Red Cross, including the migrant worker community and low-income families.

THE INNOVATORS

MaGIC and Lazada Malaysia team up to promote social enterprise products. The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has partnered with e-commerce platform Lazada Malaysia to onboard and promote the products and services of social enterprises registered with MaGIC. As part of the #buyforimapct campaign, Lazada will subsidize the online startup costs for social enterprises selected by MaGIC and promote their products and services. Since early August 2020, Malaysians have been able to purchase products made by social enterprises on Lazada via its #buyforimpact page. Throughout September, the campaign will run weekly features of social enterprises championing various causes. Additionally, the campaign will run Demo Days for aspiring social enterprises to showcase their budding businesses to funding agencies and potential investors.

Japan and India team up to help emerging nations go digital. Japan and India will work with technology companies to build platforms that help emerging nations put government services online. The initiative will take inspiration from New Delhi’s online system, which allowed for quick distribution of Covid-19 assistance. Japan’s trade ministry will enlist domestic businesses for the project, and Indian engineers will grant licenses that permit Japanese companies to land contracts for digital platforms from other countries. Japan’s government, which lags in digitizing its systems, also plans to use the knowledge gained from the partnership to advance its own digitization efforts.

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

Webinar: Asia Society Hong Kong Center Program Charting the Path Forward

Catching the world unaware, Covid-19 has sent the global economy and the lives of billions into a tailspin. In the wake of this pandemic, the public, private, and social sectors must come together to work towards a stronger and more equitable Asia as we build our way out of this crisis. At a time when foreign funding is declining across the region, “Asia for Asia” philanthropy must fill the gap—and the Doing Good Index shows how.

CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed present the key findings of the index and showcase how governments, philanthropists, companies and the social sector can work together for mutual benefit. This discussion was moderated by Ronnie C. Chan, Co-Founder and Chairman of CAPS and Chairman of Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

Who’s Doing Good

03 August 2020 - 17 August 2020

THE GIVERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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.

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

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

20 July 2020 - 02 August 2020

THE GIVERS

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing to donate another HK$101 million (US$13 million) to medical and welfare sectors amid pandemic. A fifth of the donation will go to encouraging graduates of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong to stay back and serve the city, by providing each graduate with a HK$50,000 (approximately US$6,500) cash gift. The rest of the donation will benefit Hospital Authority’s hospitals, 12 local NGOs, and individuals who fall outside of the city’s social security safety net as Hong Kong battles its third wave of Covid-19 cases. This fresh bequest follows earlier donations of HK$100 million (approximately US$13 million) and HK$80 million (approximately US$11 million) to Wuhan and Hong Kong, respectively, to help contain their Covid-19 outbreaks.

Forbes China releases 2020 China Philanthropy List. In its 14th edition, the list includes 100 business owners and their firms, representing ¥17.91 billion (approximately US$2.57 billion) in cash donations. Xu Jiayin, president of real estate giant Evergrande Group, tops the list with charitable cash donations of ¥3.01 billion (approximately US$430 million) in 2019. Yang Guoqiang, founder and chairman of Country Garden, and his family ranked second with ¥1.52 billion (approximately US$218 million) in cash donations.

Korea’s top research university receives record donation from entrepreneur Lee Se-young. Lee, head of real estate company Gwangwon Industry, announced a donation of real estate worth ₩67.6 billion (US$56.4 million) to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)—the biggest donation received by the school since its founding in 1971. Lee has previously donated real estate worth ₩8 billion (approximately US$6.7 million) in 2012 and ₩1 billion (approximately US$900,000) in 2016, making her cumulative donation to KAIST around ₩76.6 billion (approximately US$65 million). Lee hopes that her donation will help Korea produce its first Nobel Prize winner in science.

THE THINKERS

Taiwan among the leading group of “Doing Well” in the Doing Good Index 2020. Read more (in Chinese) about Taiwan’s leading performance in the latest article by CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro. In CommonWealth Magazine (天下雜誌), Shapiro discusses Taiwan’s laws and policies that promote an accountable and transparent social sector and engagement with it. 

THE NONPROFITS

Singapore-based NGO to invest up to SG$100 million (approximately US$73 million) in environmental projects in India. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a Singapore-based NGO working in the environmental sector, plans to invest in India over the next five years to help reduce the country’s plastic waste. Projects so far include an initiative to reduce plastic waste in the river Ganga and a partnership with UN-Habitat to implement solutions towards a circular economy. The Alliance also has a budget of SG$400 million (approximately US$290 million) for environmental projects in Southeast Asia and China.

THE BUSINESSES

Hitachi to donate ¥100 million (approximately US$1 million) to support research on the novel coronavirus. The funds are earmarked for “The Hitachi Global Foundation Fund for Research Support of Infectious Diseases,” which will support researchers in Japan and the ASEAN region. This follows earlier Covid-19 relief efforts from Hitachi Group, including donating PPE and providing US$1 million in loans to businesses in need through Kiva.

Wix helps bring first-of-its-kind remote learning initiative to Philippines Department of Education. Wix, a leading website creation platform, announced that over 43,000 e-learning websites were built and launched in two days through its project with the Philippines Department of Education. Under the government’s “Digital Rise Program,” this initiative enabled teachers with no coding experience to digitize their curriculum via Wix, helping schools transition to e-learning during this time.

Yoma Bank donates 6,000 masks and school supplies to under-resourced students. In Myanmar, Yoma Bank donated design-your-own masks, intended to improve the motivation of students to follow safety practices by allowing them to personally design their masks. In collaboration with Step-in Step-up, a vocational training academy, Yoma Bank also provided mask-wearing training to ensure students wear, remove, and handle masks in a safe manner when they return to school.

THE VOLUNTEERS

China sees increase in number of registered volunteers. The number of registered volunteers reached 169 million in China by the end of 2019, a 13.9% increase year-on-year, according to the Blue Book of Philanthropy—a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Social Sciences Academic Press, and the China Lingshan Council for the Promotion of Philanthropy. These volunteers together offered over 2.2 billion hours of service last year. The monetary value of this work is estimated to be ¥90.3 billion (US$12.8 billion).

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

06 July 2020 - 19 July 2020

THE GIVERS

Renowned filmmakers Wong Kar-Wai, Peter Chan Ho-sun, and Derek Yee pledge US$33.5 million to help revive the Hong Kong Film Industry. The donation will go to Hong Kong’s new Directors’ Succession Scheme, a government-funded initiative to boost the local film industry after Covid-19. The directors have pledged to pass on their skills and experience to the next generation, and they will be pairing up with promising local filmmakers to co-produce films during this uncertain time.

THE THINKERS

Read more about CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 in the Myanmar Times, “Myanmar moves up in Doing Good Index 2020,” and in Arthikpati (Nepali), “डुइङ गुड इन्डेक्स २०२० सार्वजनिक, च्यारिटी∕डोनेशनका लागि राम्रो वातावरण हुनेमा सिगापुर र ताइवान.” Listen to Money FM’s interview with CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro, where she discusses the index and a rising trend of cross-sector collaboration across Asia.

New report: Gender Lens Investing Landscape – East and Southeast Asia. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, in partnership with Catalyst at Large and Sagana, launched the region’s first landscape of gender lends investing (GLI) investment vehicles in both public and private markets. The report aims to track the size and state of the gender lends investing market in Asia over time.

New report: Sustainable Investing Review 2020. According to Standard Chartered’s latest report, Sustainable Investing Review 2020, sustainable investment is on the rise in Asia. 90% of investors in the region said they are interested in sustainable investment and plan to invest 5-10% of their funds in this area. Yet, the report also highlights the need for more awareness and information regarding ESG solutions, as many affluent and high-net-worth investors in the region are still apprehensive about sustainable investing.

THE BUSINESSES

H&M Foundation to support female garment workers in Bangladesh. The Foundation will donate US$1.3 million to provide emergency relief to an estimated 76,000 young women and their families in the greater Dhaka area amidst Covid-19. The funds will be distributed to WaterAid, CARE, and Save the Children. In response to the devastation of the textile industry caused by Covid-19, H&M foundation has also pledged long-term upskilling, re-skilling, digital literacy, and entrepreneurship initiatives to help enhance the employability of female textile workers.

Wadhwani Foundation commits Rs 200 crore (approximately US$27 million) for social development programs amidst Covid-19. The Foundation announced the Sahayata Initiative to help distressed small and medium enterprises affected by Covid-19 as well as to help public health workers improve their Covid-19 knowledge and skills. The initiative consists of three programs: the Sahayata Business Stability program, the Sahayata Covid-19 Skilling program, and the Sahayata Public Health Innovation program.

Shangri-La partners with Diversey to upcycle 12,500 kg of hotel linen into face masks for the vulnerable. 21 participating Shangri-La hotels in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka joined the initiative Linens for Life Face Masks, together with Diversey, a global hygiene solutions provider. The hotel linens have been upcycled into half a million reusable face masks by local nonprofits in the region. The masks will be distributed to local communities in need, such as refugees and asylum seekers in Bangkok, Thailand and orphanages in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

A joint CSR program in Malaysia to benefit 500 schools nationwide. This program by Green Packet’s subsidiary KiplePay and the Malaysia Xiang Lian Youth Association Charity and Education Fund will create an end-to-end digital experience for 500 schools. This initiative comes in response to Covid-19 which was “a wake-up call for schools to seriously consider putting in place technologically advanced protection systems that can continue to protect school children, even after the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Johnson Controls–Hitachi Air Conditioning India to train rural youth across the country. Recently, India’s Prime Minister cited air conditioning as a priority sector in the government’s push to generate jobs. As part of its ‘Unlocking Skills’ CSR initiative, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India will expand skill development for the air conditioner and refrigeration industry amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The company will leverage its trainers, specially designed curriculum, and its six skill development centers in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to train rural youth via a virtual platform.

Companies continue to give to Covid-19 relief efforts. In Malaysia, Tropicana and Top Glove have jointly announced a donation of RM1.8 million (approximately US$500,000) worth of medical equipment and supplies to the Ministry of Health Malaysia. In India, Hyundai Mobis donated Rs3.5 crore (approximately US$500,000), with Rs 0.5 crore going to the PM CARES Fund and Rs3 crore to distributing masks and sanitizers through a local nonprofit.

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