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

24 November 2020 - 07 December 2020

THE GIVERS

National Legacy Giving initiative to inspire philanthropic culture in Singapore. According to a Social Pulse Survey, there is a disconnect between awareness and action when it comes to legacy giving in Singapore. While the majority of respondents (83%) are aware of legacy giving, only 33% are considering it, and only 3% would follow through in planning such a bequest. In an effort to make legacy giving more common, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has launched a three-year national legacy giving initiative, titled, “A Greater Gift”. The initiative will work in partnership with wealth advisors and ambassadors—individuals who share why they chose to pursue legacy giving—to facilitate more awareness and planning. CFS will also support charities, especially smaller ones, which may not be equipped to engage legacy donors.

THE NONPROFITS

How a Bengaluru NGO raised Rs220 crore for fight against coronavirus. The India COVID Response Fund, a collective crowdfunding campaign by nonprofit GiveIndia has raised over Rs220 crore (approximately US$30 million) since its launch in March this year. The fund received early support from well-known foundations, high-net-worth individuals, and businesses, which helped spur further giving from individuals around the world. So far the fund has disbursed Rs190 crore (approximately US$26 million) in cash relief, humanitarian aid, and healthcare support to frontline workers through its network of verified nonprofits.

THE BUSINESSES

Businesses continue providing relief aid in the wake of Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The Philippines’ leading companies, including Ayala GroupSM Malls, and MVP Group, have ramped up relief efforts to help communities affected by recent super typhoons. To encourage more cash aid from abroad, the remittance service unit of the Philippines’ BDO Unibank is waving charges on typhoon donations from overseas Filipinos until December 31. The bank’s philanthropic arm, the BDO Foundation, has also distributed relief packs containing food, rice, and drinking water to more than 260,000 families in affected cities and municipalities. Foreign companies are also stepping up: fashion giant H&M donated US$200,000 to the Red Cross to meet the needs of 260,000 people affected in Vietnam and the Philippines. Japanese retailer Uniqlo donated US$1 million in aid through the SM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Philippines’ SM Group.

DBS steps up support for social enterprises with a record SG$9 million (approximately US$6.8 million) in grants and loans this year. DBS Bank has increased its financial support to help social enterprises cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through two new initiatives this year: the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement Grant and the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize. The DBS Foundation has also continued its flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Program. Last week the foundation announced that SG$1.4 million (approximately US$1 million) has been awarded to 13 social enterprises in its 2020 cohort.

PwC India to upskill 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. PwC India announced the launch of its new collaborative initiative aimed at bridging the digital gap and upskilling 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. This is part of PwC’s global collaboration with UNICEF and Generational Unlimited, a multi-sector partnership aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030. The program will act as a catalyst by working with a range of public and private stakeholders to create equitable opportunities for young people through enhanced employability and earnings potential. PwC India will provide broad support across three areas: Economic Opportunities and Employability, 21st Century Skilling and Learning, and Youth Engagement.

THE INNOVATORS

BillionBricks: the Singapore social enterprise tackling homelessness by building solar homes in the Philippines. Social enterprise BillionBricks is known for its pioneering invention, the WeatherHYDE emergency tent, which has been distributed around the world. However, in recognizing that this tent model was only an interim housing solution, the founders developed the BillionBricks Home: the world’s first self-financing, carbon-negative solar home solution. Each BillionBricks Home is equipped with solar panels that produce four times more energy than what is consumed, allowing families to sell unused energy to the grid and generate additional income. Prototypes for the BillionBricks Home have already been built in India and the Philippines, and in 2022 the first community of 500 solar homes will be built in the Philippines. If this model succeeds, BillionBricks plans to scale its solar-powered community globally by sharing its self-sustaining model as a playbook for organizations around the world to replicate.

Indonesians take local approach to massive problem of food waste. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Food Sustainability Index, Indonesia ranked 53rd out of 67 countries on food loss and waste. This Nikkei Asia article highlights Indonesian social sector organizations working to bridge the gap between food wastage and food insecurity. For instance, Garda Pangan redistributed discarded food from restaurants, local farmers, and business partners to provide 144,000 meals. Volunteer-led Foodbank of Indonesia has collected 1,200 tons of food this year alone that would have otherwise been wasted. While there is still a lack of awareness around food loss and waste in Indonesia, this article highlights the importance of social sector organizations in bringing attention to the issue and meeting immediate nutritional needs.

THE VOLUNTEERS

HealthServe’s Goh Wei-Leong shares how his nonprofit pivoted during Covid-19. As a medical doctor, Goh Wei-Leong co-founded the nonprofit HealthServe to provide marginalized migrant workers in Singapore with healthcare, counseling and social assistance. When Singapore’s Covid-19 outbreak led to the overnight loss of 95% of its medical volunteers, HealthServe had to pivot. The nonprofit rapidly launched teleconsultation services to make up for the shortfall and escalated the roll-out of mental wellness initiatives such as a virtual tele-counseling clinic and group intervention sessions. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, volunteers still remained engaged digitally and Goh credits the organization’s success to its volunteers: “The pandemic brought out the best among our volunteers and it shows that in the midst of struggling, there is a ray of hope.”

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

27 October 2020 - 09 November 2020

THE GIVERS

Tanoto Foundation, Temasek Foundation International donate PCR equipment to GSI Lab. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report on Indonesia highlighted the need for the country to increase its lab capacity to test suspected Covid-19 cases, as the country lags the Philippines and India in testing. Indonesia’s low testing rate has persisted as laboratories face problems ranging from limited testing equipment and delays in reported results. Genomik Solidaritas Indonesia Lab (GSI Lab), a social enterprise supporting the government’s Covid-19 testing efforts, currently has the capacity to conduct 5,000 tests daily. Thanks to this new donation of PCR equipment from the Tanoto Foundation and Temasek Foundation International, GSI Lab will be able to conduct an additional 600 tests per day.

After fight with prostate cancer, ex-banker Nazir Razak initiates awareness campaign. Former chairman of CIMB Group, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak will help lead a nationwide campaign against prostate cancer this November with the Urological Cancer Trust Fund of Universiti Malaya. A prostate cancer survivor himself, Razak is publicly sharing his experience in hopes that it will help the campaign raise awareness. The campaign is also providing knowledge enhancement programs for doctors and a dedicated website that contains health education resources for the public, patients, and healthcare professionals. According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry, more than 60% of prostate cancer cases in the country are diagnosed at the advanced stage, while the comparable statistics are much lower in Singapore (25-30%) and the United States (less than 20%). The annual campaign will work to lower this number to 40% by 2025. Nazir Razak sits on CAPS’ Advisory Board.

THE NONPROFITS

With more Hongkongers needing food assistance during Covid-19, two local NGOs step up with volunteer delivery effort. Demand for food assistance in Hong Kong is greater than ever this year as residents face financial difficulty during Covid-19. This has prompted two local nonprofits—volunteer organization HandsOn Hong Kong and local food bank Feeding Hong Kong—to launch “Care Delivered”. This service aims to ensure food donations actually reach recipients, which has been hard with social distancing measures in place. Feeding Hong Kong will source the food, while HandsOn Hong Kong will organize volunteers to provide the manpower needed to distribute the food. “Care Delivered” has been selected as one of the 19 beneficiaries of Hong Kong’s annual charity fundraising campaign Operation Santa Claus (organized by South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong), and it will begin its delivery service in March 2021.

THE BUSINESSES

Microsoft, Accenture to nurture startups by social entrepreneurs in India. Microsoft and Accenture announced they will expand their joint initiative, announced earlier this year, on supporting startups in agriculture, education, and healthcare. The program will now also include startups solving critical business challenges related to sustainability and skilling. The program entails Microsoft Research India and Accenture Labs providing mentorship and support to help startups build scalable solutions and business models. This includes testing and validating proof-of-concepts and conducting design thinking sessions. Startups also receive resources from Microsoft and support in using these technologies to scale solutions.

THE INNOVATORS

Asia’s aspiring ‘green-collar’ workers hope for jobs in Covid-19 recovery. A new Singapore-based website is tapping into the growing demand for environmentally focused careers in Asia. It is billed as the first of such initiatives in Southeast Asia—a region that often comes under threat from natural disasters. The “Green Collar” portal lists jobs from renewable energy to farming and climate change in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, with plans to gradually include job opportunities in other parts of the region. This comes as countries around the world are pledging to a “green recovery” from Covid-19. For example, Singapore said in August that it would create 55,000 green jobs over the next decade in the environment and agriculture sectors, while South Korea pledged in July to spend US$95 billion on green projects to boost the economy. The rising demand for green jobs coupled with stimulus measures aimed at concurrently revitalizing economies and fighting climate change augur well for the development of the ‘green sector’ in Asia.

THE VOLUNTEERS

CapitaLand promotes spirit of volunteerism among its employees. CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest diversified real estate groups, continues to be a leading example in how employee volunteering schemes can amplify the impact of CSR initiatives by contributing time and expertise in addition to funding. CapitaLand was among the first companies in Singapore to formalize a three-day Volunteer Service Leave system in 2006. Since then, it has expanded its leave policy to include Volunteer No-Pay Leave, Volunteer Part-Time Leave, and other initiatives. Employees can also take paid leave for volunteering as part of the company’s International Volunteer Expedition (IVE) program, in which employees volunteer at one of CapitaLand’s 29 Hope Schools across China and Vietnam. Such policies and initiatives have helped drive employee volunteerism: CapitaLand employees have volunteered over 170,000 hours between 2006 and 2019.

IN OTHER NEWS…

After government refusal, some foreign nonprofits start diverting funds from cash distribution plan. As much as US$3 million was supposed to be spent in cash distribution by international NGOs in Nepal to communities affected by Covid-19. However, the Nepalese government introduced standards on relief distribution in April, which prioritized distribution of goods instead of cash. This article in The Kathmandu Post explores why the government has clamped down on cash distribution and how foreign NGOs are responding. In the meantime, these nonprofits are facing difficulty convincing donors to allow them to divert funds meant for cash transfers to be used for other relief materials. This has translated to delays in the distribution of much-needed support to those in need.

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

13 October 2020 - 26 October 2020

THE GIVERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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. 

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

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

Standard & Norms: A non technical analysis of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020

Financial Management Service Foundation

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) is the cornerstone law regulating the receipt of foreign funding in India. In September 2020, the Indian government introduced and passed the FCRA Bill 2020 into law, placing new restrictions on how organizations can receive and spend foreign grants. The law is expected to have far-reaching impact on the country’s social sector. This report discusses the amendments made, the implications for the social sector at large, and the path forward. Read the report here.

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

India’s Private Giving: Unpacking Domestic Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

OECD

This report shares select data on some of India’s domestic philanthropic giving and compares it to other sources of funding, such as official development assistance, international philanthropic flows and public social expenditures. It analyzes giving trends by sector and geography, and identifies both opportunities and challenges in achieving greater impact. Read it here.

A Nonprofit’s Guide to the Social Stock Exchange

Roopa Kudva (India Development Review)

A committee constituted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India on the creation of a social stock exchange (SSE) has submitted its recommendations, and now the government will decide which ones to implement. This article summarizes the recommendations most relevant for nonprofits and provides a guide on how they can benefit from the SSE. The SSE in India aims to not only be a new platform for additional funding for nonprofits and social enterprises, but also to create a supporting environment for nonprofits more broadly. Read it here.