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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Ruth Shapiro on the Doing Good Index 2020

CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro shares insights from the second edition of the biennial Doing Good Index, launched in June 2020.

 

Insights with Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed: Doing Good Index 2020

CAPS’ Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed shares insights from the second edition of the biennial Doing Good Index, launched in June 2020.

Webinar: Doing Good Index 2020

Profiling Asia's Social Sector: The Path Forward

The Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) introduces its second edition of the Doing Good Index (DGI). Hear from Dr. Ruth Shapiro, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, and Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, Director of Research at CAPS, as they present key findings from the DGI2020 and showcase how governments, philanthropists, companies and the social sector can work together for mutual benefit. During the webinar, learn which factors enable or hinder private social investment across 18 countries and territories in Asia.

Doing Good Index 2020

Profiling Asia's Social Sectors: The Path Forward

The Doing Good Index 2020 lays bare the vital role of the social sector and how the right policies and practices can unleash an enormous US$587 billion per year towards it.

In the wake of Covid-19, 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. It provides a roadmap of the policies and practices that can unleash this capital by aligning incentives around doing good; mitigating the trust deficit; and maximizing private social investment flowing to the social sector.

The Index has increased its coverage from 15 Asian economies in 2018 index to a total of 18: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It is based on original data gathered through surveying 2,189 social delivery organizations and interviewing 145 country experts across all 18 economies.

The Doing Good Index 2020 offers a way forward for governments, as well as private and corporate donors to meet the imperatives of building a vibrant social sector for a brighter Asian future. It is with great excitement that we bring you this second edition to help plot the way forward in a post-Covid-19 world. The next edition of the Index, planned for 2022, will reveal how these economies have fared following the Covid-19 pandemic.

View our press release and watch the video presentation from our public webinar.

Doing Good Index Microsite

Interact with the data on our newly launched Doing Good Index microsite. Featuring a data dashboard, our microsite lets you filter and explore data from our survey of 2,189 social delivery organizations (SDOs) and interviews with 145 country experts across 18 Asian economies.

Responding to Covid-19: Who’s Doing Good?

25 May 2020 - 8 June 2020

THE GIVERS

The Majurity Trust, a philanthropic organization in Singapore, started the Singapore Strong Fund (SSF) to aid ordinary Singaporeans addressing challenges related to Covid-19. Backed by 10 main donors, it has already helped more than 52,800 people as well as rallied together over 3,700 volunteers. The SG$550,000 (approximately US$400,000) fund, finances up to 80% of a project’s cost or gives SG$5,000 (approximately US$3,600), whichever is lower.

THE NONPROFITS

Give2Asia is featuring local nonprofits across Asia, and how they’re addressing local needs during Covid-19. This includes examples from India, the Philippines, Korea, Cambodia, and Indonesia, among others.

THE BUSINESSES

In Bangladesh, Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Novartis, through its Bangladesh arm, has donated 28,000 PPEs to Swiss Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, worth BDT2.27 crore (nearly US$300,000).

In China, SC Johnson is donating ¥1 million (approximately US$140,000) to the Red Cross. It is also launching its 2020 SC Johnson’s Youth for a Green Life partnership with Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation to help children deal with the pandemic. These efforts are part of a series of financial and in-kind donations—valued at over US$1 million—aimed at helping the Asia-Pacific region battle Covid-19.

In Hong Kong, Citi Foundation has donated US$150,000 to Feeding Hong Kong, which employs B2B logistics to channel surplus food stock to charities feeding those in need. The donation will benefit 5,600 households helping provide up to 14 days’ worth of food supply. The gift is accompanied by a donation of 110,000 face masks, which Feeding Hong Kong will distribute to vulnerable families. 

In India, LEGO Group, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Save the Children, has introduced targeted initiatives in India to promote ‘Learning Through Play’ and support home-based learning during and after Covid-19. This is part of the LEGO Group and LEGO Foundation’s overall commitment of US$50 million globally to help children and their families during Covid-19. Yamaha Motor India donated Rs61.5 lakh (approximately US$90,000) to aid the fight against Covid-19. Rs11.5 lakh of this was earmarked for the PM Cares Fund.

In the Philippines, global shoemaker Bata will donate 2,000 pairs of shoes through SM Foundation to those battling the pandemic including healthcare workers, volunteers, and their families. The effort is part of a global commitment to donate one million pairs of shoes. In an interview with CNBC, Ayala Group Chairman and CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, underscores the role of companies in helping fight Covid-19, noting, “The Covid crisis has created a new sense of public-private partnerships and unity.”

In Singapore, Citi announced three key initiatives in supporting Covid-19 relief efforts: providing food for marginalized communities, supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and supporting migrant workers. In addition to a global employee donation-matching initiative, Citi has also raised US$1 million in the Asia Pacific in an effort to further support the United Nations Development Programme’s initiatives for vulnerable and marginalized communities.

In Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Education and Microsoft have partnered to advance remote learning during and after Covid-19. Microsoft will support the Ministry by providing students, teachers, ministry officials, and others stakeholders free access to Microsoft Office 365 tools.

In Taiwan, Taiwan Mobile, part of the Fubon Group, is offering tailor-made industry tech solutions to help enterprise customers (such as major hospitals) in the fight against Covid-19. Its enterprise communication system, M+ Messenger, is helping to ensure business continuity and data security, as well as provide support for hospitals to enhance efficient communication amidst the crisis. Taiwan Mobile also provided 15-day free internet access to over 20,000 students who need to learn from home during the pandemic, along with its other ongoing CSR initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide. The Group also joined other companies in donating masks and hand sanitizer to help combat Covid-19.

In Thailand, the PepsiCo Foundation has partnered with Raks Thai Foundation to initiate three programs valued at THB18 million (approximately US$573,000) to help communities facing hardships due to the pandemic. The programs include “Give Meals Give Hope,” “Give Care to Farmers,” and “Give Care to Healthcare.” Across the programs, PepsiCo Foundation will donate 1 million meals, offer Covid-19 insurance and epidemic prevention gear to more than 3,900 farmers and their families, and donate critical medical equipment to hospitals.

THE INNOVATORS

UNESCAP and Good Return team up to provide a financial injection for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the time of Covid-19. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and Good Return will support women-led SMEs in accessing the capital needed to support their businesses. The partnership will create a multi-country credit guarantee scheme across Cambodia, Nepal, Fiji, and Samoa. This comes at a time in which Covid-19 has exacerbated common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, such as lack of assets to use as collateral and lower levels of digital literacy.

World Oceans Day prompts a push towards a ‘Blue Economy’ and new financing initiatives. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cambodia’s “Ocean Economy” is valued at US$2.4 billion (representing around 10% of its GDP) and directly and indirectly employs around 3.2 million workers. In order to protect this, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has outlined four key financial initiatives to assist the country’s transition towards a more sustainable Ocean Economy. These include blue bonds, results-based lending, ocean risk insurance, and payments for ecosystem services. ADB has already committed US$5 billion to expanding its investments and technical assistance in ocean health and the blue economy over a five year period.

THE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer army in Indonesia helps fight coronavirus with data, web. The Kawal Covid-19 (Guard against Covid-19) group constructs data models to guide the provincial governor in enacting stronger measures to mitigate the outbreak and to counter misinformation. Kawal’s 800 volunteers have emerged as an increasingly important source of information and guidance, particularly amidst patchy data and conflicting advice from Indonesia’s central government. Kawal emerged from volunteer groups that were set up to monitor 2014 and 2019 elections.

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