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.

The State of Social Enterprise in South East Asia

British Council and UNESCAP

This report combines economy-specific analyses of social enterprises across South East Asia, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. An estimated one million social enterprises exist across these economies. This report highlights the activities that social enterprises are engaged in, the range of beneficiaries, as well as their size and reach. The diverse types and sources of support social enterprises receive are also discussed. Read it here.

Individual reports can be accessed here:

Charity Law Reform in Hong Kong: Taming the Asian Dragon?

Damian Bethke (International Journal of Not-for-profit Law (Vol. 18, No. 1))

This article examines the historical development of charity organizations in Hong Kong and reviews laws governing them.

Hong Kong has seen a rise in the number of charitable organizations despite a lack of clear regulations. To address this, in 2007 the Law Reform Commission initiated a review of the charity law and recommended 18 changes. This article discusses where these recommendations fall short and proposes an alternative model: the creation of independent charity watchdog organizations to monitor the sector. Read it here.

Global Philanthropy Report: Perspectives on the global foundation sector

John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

This report seeks to create a knowledge base for institutional philanthropy. Wealthy individuals, families and corporations are looking to invest more strategically and maximize impact. The report highlights how financial resources are being deployed to do good, identifies priority areas for investment and operational approaches of grant makers. Insights from Asian research partners in China, Hong Kong and India are provided. 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

18 January 2021 - 03 February 2021

BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, rethinks its future. As Covid-19 continues to restrict its ability to work outside of Bangladesh, BRAC is aiming to expand its partnerships and engage more in advocacy work to scale its impact. The NGO’s shift to focus on capacity building and policy shines light on what the future of development work may look like after Covid-19. Others in the space, such as Oxfam, also foresee a shift to a partnership model rather than a direct delivery model. Continue reading in Devex →

Companies ranging from global brands to small businesses are offering pandemic aid to Thailand’s migrant workers. After the country’s recent spike in coronavirus cases, companies have stepped up to provide immediate supplies for migrant workers, who are mostly from Myanmar. CP Foods, Thai Union Group, and Osotspa have donated food and drink supplies, alongside global brands like PepsiCo and Mars. True Corp also joined the effort by donating mobile phone SIM cards to provide internet access for the migrant worker community. Continue reading in Reuters →

For Indian companies, spending on vaccine campaigns will count as CSR. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs declared that expenditure by Indian companies on awareness campaigns around the Covid-19 vaccination rollout could be counted towards their mandated CSR. Corporate spending on vaccine research and development as well as medical devices will also qualify. With these new changes, corporates are now lobbying for the vaccination of employees to also be included under the umbrella of CSR spending. Continue reading in India CSR →

Chinese philanthropy takes new shape amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. During the first half of 2020, Chinese philanthropists contributed more than US$2.82 billion to fight Covid-19. According to the report, Pandemic Philanthropy: Exploring Chinese Donors’ Embrace of Covid-19 R&D Funding, the pandemic spurred a shift in philanthropic giving from providing physical goods to focusing on research and development. This report discusses this welcome trend of investing in longer-terms needs, as well as other notable shifts in Chinese philanthropy during the pandemic. Continue reading in The Nonprofit Times →

The Philippines’ PLDT is bridging the digital divide in education’s new normal. In 2016, Smart Communications, a subsidiary of PLDT, launched “School-in-a-Bag”, a portable digital classroom designed to facilitate learning in remote areas using mobile technology. Each kit contains a laptop for the teacher, 20 tablets for students that can access interactive apps offline, and a Smart LTE pocket WiFi for teachers to download additional content. As kids rely even more on digital technology to continue learning in the pandemic, PLDT has donated an additional 86 digital classroom kits to the Department of Education this school year. Since its launch, the “School-in-a-Bag” kits have reached 80,000 students and 2,000 teachers across the Philippines. Continue reading in the Manila Standard →

The Jennifer Yu Cheng Girls Impact Foundation was recently launched to educate and empower schoolgirls in Greater China to become leaders in a digitalized economy. The new charity was launched by Jennifer Yu Cheng, executive director of Chow Tai Fook and wife of Adrian Cheng, executive vice-chairman and chief executive of New World Development. The foundation will partner with NGOs and other institutions to extend scholarships to teenage girls in underprivileged communities, starting with China’s Guizhou province. The foundation will also work to empower girls in Hong Kong with improved tech skills and wider exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Continue reading in the South China Morning Post →

Azim Premji sells shares worth Rs 9,000 crore in buyback, benefitting his two philanthropic trusts. The Azim Premji Trust and Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives will earn Rs 7,807 crore (over US$1 billion) from this, making them one of the largest charitable trusts in the region. Both organizations focus on education, nutrition, and issues related to vulnerable groups including street children, people with disabilities, and survivors of domestic violence. Continue reading in the Times of India →

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

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.