CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

01 September 2021 - 14 September 2021

Alibaba commits ¥100 billion (US$15.5 billion) to “common prosperity” vision. China Daily reports that the funding will go towards supporting technological innovation, economic development, developing a high-quality workforce, caring for vulnerable groups, and setting up a ¥20 billion (approximately US$3.1 billion) common prosperity development fund. Continue reading in China Daily →

The family of CAPS’ Chairman Ronnie Chan has been active on both sides of the Pacific. In Hong Kong and mainland China, their Hang Lung Properties group hosted a sustainability-themed volunteer day where 800 corporate volunteers in 10 cities dedicated their time to promoting low carbon living and delivering care to over 5,000 people in need. And in the US, the Chans’ Morningside Foundation has donated US$175 million from their philanthropic organization to the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Hyundai Motor Group’s honorary chairman Chung Mong-koo pledges ₩10 billion (US$8.63 million) for vaccine research. The funds will be donated to the Korea University Medical Center for establishing a vaccine research center to expand the infrastructure needed to develop homegrown vaccines for infectious diseases. Continue reading in The Korea Herald →

WWF India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) launch the India Plastics Pact. India generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Almost half (43%) of all plastics produced are used for packaging, with the majority being single-use. The Pact brings together businesses, government, and NGOs to resolve these issues by promoting a circular system for plastics. India is the first Asian economy to launch a Plastics Pact. Continue reading in Business Line →

Cambodia’s Prince Holding Group signs MoU with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to launch the Chen Zhi Scholarship. The company has pledged US$2 million over seven years to support 400 students attending top Cambodian universities. Prince Group will work with MoEYS to ensure the students receive financial support, training, mentoring and employment opportunities. Continue reading in the Khmer Times →

India’s water quality and scarcity issues require solutions that offer speed, scale, and sustainability. Arghyam’s Jayamala Subramaniam and Amrtha Kasturi Rangan share how a people-centric, participatory and digital driven approach can help India manage its water more effectively. CAPS’ report, Public-Private Partnerships for Social Good, highlights the strategies successful PPPs such as Arghyam use to achieve sustainable social impact. Continue reading in India Development Review →

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CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

23 June 2021 – 06 July 2021

With total donations valued at US$102.4 billion, India’s Jamsetji Tata—founder of the Tata Group—tops the 2021 EdelGive Hurun Philanthropists of the Century list. This is the first time EdelGive Foundation and Hurun Research Institute have spotlighted top philanthropists spanning a century. The 50 most generous individuals come from five economies, including three from China and two from India. Continue reading on the Hurun website →

Corporates and the social sector continue to support relief efforts as Asia experiences a resurgence of Covid-19. In India, Standard Chartered BankGoogle India and Vedanta Resources have pledged support towards relief efforts. Vinamilk, a Vietnamese dairy company, is supporting the domestic and regional fight against Covid-19. Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese companies operating in Vietnam are contributing to the government’s vaccine fund. In Taiwan, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation becomes the third organization to win approval to procure vaccines, following Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

CAPS explains how Asian business leaders are championing public-private partnerships for social good. As the world comes to grips with the social and economic repercussions of Covid-19, the need and potential for multi-stakeholder collaborations are becoming more evident. CAPS’ Senior Researchers Annelotte Walsh and Wilson Lau discuss how a deeply rooted desire to do good can drive business leaders to partner with government for social good. Continue reading on the WINGS website →

Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, gives ¥500 million (US$77.3 million) to education. Zhang’s donation will be transferred to an education fund in his hometown of Longyan city. The funds will be used for teacher training, ed-tech infrastructure and the construction of dormitories, reports Bloomberg. This donation is in line with the recent trend we have reported of Chinese tech billionaires giving big. Continue reading in Bloomberg →

HKEX Foundation launches HK$10 million (approximately US$1.3 million) HKEX Impact Funding Scheme to support community projects run by local NGOs. The scheme will be implemented in partnership with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) and focus on four thematic areas: financial literacy, diversity and inclusion, poverty relief, and environmental sustainability. Applications close on 11 August. Continue reading on the HKEX website → 

Indian companies unveil ambitious plans to push clean energy. Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries pledges INR750 billion (US$10.1 billion) over three years to clean energy investment. Last year Reliance set itself the target of becoming a net-zero carbon company by 2035. Gautam Adani of Adani Group plans to turn his business carbon negative, aiding the government’s goal to expand the country’s renewable capacity nearly fivefold and meet its 2030 climate commitments.

Singapore-based EcoWorth Tech wins at the 2021 SAFE STEPS Disaster Tech (D-Tech) Awards. The winner in the for-profit category, Eco-Worth is the creator of the Carbon Fibre Aerogel (CFA) sponge. The sponge is made from low-cost natural materials and can be used to clean organic materials from wastewater. The awards, by Prudence Foundation and partners, recognize the essential role that technology plays in protecting and saving lives before, during and after natural disasters. Continue reading on the Safe Steps website  

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

Social innovation and higher education landscape in East Asia

British Council & University of Northamption Institute for Social Innovation and Impact

This report consolidates findings and maps the current social innovations landscape in higher education institutions across several East Asia economies, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea. Higher education institutions are seen as critical incubators of social innovation and can help develop solutions to complex local problems. The study employs a mixed methods approach in gathering data: using desktop research, an online survey, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders from the higher education ecosystem. The report concludes with recommendations at the practice, institutional and systemic levels for all economies examined. Read it here.

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

9 June 2021 - 22 June 2021

Hong Kong companies offer HK$130 million (approximately US$16.7 million) worth of incentives to encourage Covid-19 vaccinations. New World Development is partnering with local NGOs to offer a HK$1,000 allowance to 500 underprivileged individuals. Other Hong Kong companies, including Sino Group, Hang Lung Properties, The Airport Authority Hong Kong, are offering lucky draw and discount prizes, ranging from shopping coupons to a HK$10 million (approximately US$1.3 million) apartment.

In the latest Philanthropy Impact magazine, CAPS explains how blended finance can pave the way to achieving the SDGs. Asia faces a significant financing shortfall in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, especially in the wake of the pandemic. CAPS’ Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed describes how blended finance, which uses catalytic capital from government or philanthropists to attract private capital, can help. She also showcases different blended finance strategies from across Asia. Continue reading on page 26 of Philanthropy Impact 

Companies are partnering with nonprofits and government to boost Covid relief in India. Microsoft, Hitachi, and Honeywell are working with various charities to manufacture and provide essential equipment to Indian hospitals. The foundations of Vodafone and NASSCOM are partnering with Childline India Foundation to launch a helpline for children in distress.

Additionally, Dasra launched the campaign #BacktheFrontline to raise US$10 million for over 100 NGO first responders as the country shifts from relief to rebuilding. Some of US philanthropist Mackenzie Scott’s recent bequest of US$2.7 billion is going to Indian nonprofits working in pandemic relief, such as GiveIndia, The/Nudge Foundation and Mann Deshi.

With private sector support, Covid-19 vaccination rates gain pace in Japan and Taiwan. Rakuten is preparing a nationwide vaccination rollout, collaborating with industry, academia and government to establish additional vaccination centers and administer over 30,000 daily doses. Japan’s largest companies, including Toyota Motor, Softbank and Nomura, are setting up employee inoculation facilities. In Taiwan, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will purchase 5 million vaccine doses on behalf of the government. This follows recent news of Foxconn’s pledge to purchase 5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Korea will introduce ESG guidelines by the end of this year. The Korean Government plans to establish infrastructure and incentives to help companies embed environmental, social and governance (ESG) values in corporate strategies. It is also considering a revision of the stewardship code towards responsible investing, which would affect Korea’s National Pension Fund, currently the world’s third largest. These developments will help Korea keep pace with other Asian economies. Continue reading in The Korean Times 

Kakao’s founder Kim Beom-su (Brian) establishes new eponymous foundation. We reported in February 2021 about Kim’s pledge to donate more than half his wealth. He recently sold ₩500 billion (approximately US$440 million) worth of company shares, part of which will be put towards the newly formed Brian Impact Foundation. The foundation will support social impact projects’ research and development, and businesses developing artificial intelligence and other future-leading tech. Continue reading in The Korea Herald 

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

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

13 May 2021 - 25 May 2021

Foreign donations continue to pour into India, but regulatory hurdles remain. Japan’s NTT pledged US$3 million; Thermo Fisher Scientific pledged US$10 million; and Silicon Valley tech leaders have organized relief, including Ethereum’s Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin who donated over US$1 billion in cryptocurrencies to the India Covid Crypto Relief Fund. The New York Times underscored ongoing concerns that India’s strict regulations on foreign funding are inhibiting donations at a time of dire need. Even crypto donations such as Buterin’s are facing legal hurdles under current FCRA regulations. While international support is critical, India Development Review’s Co-Founder and CEO Smarinita Shetty highlights how media attention on India’s lack of oxygen has skewed donor priorities, noting that humanitarian relief is still the need of the hour.

Domestic and international donors step in to aid Nepal as it battles a resurgence of Covid-19. The Chaudhary Foundation, affiliated with the Chaudhary Group, has pledged over US$1.5 million to help combat the second wave. The Foundation is also setting up an ICU ward and oxygen plant in the country’s largest government hospital, as well as importing and distributing oxygen concentrators. Gorkha Brewery joined hands with Singapore’s Lotus Life Foundation, MiRXES Pvt Ltd and Temasek Foundation to provide emergency medical supplies, including ventilators and oximeters, worth over रू200 million (approximately US$1.7 million). Temasek Foundation has also supplied 10,000 Covid-19 test kits.

HSBC commits US$100 million towards the Climate Solutions Partnership Initiative, half of which will fund projects in the Asia-Pacific region. In partnership with the World Resources Institute and WWF, the five-year initiative will focus on three areas: energy transition, habitat restoration and conservation, and carbon-cutting technologies. The initiative is part of HSBC’s climate strategy for a transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Continue reading in Philanthropy News Digest →

Colin Huang, Founder of Pinduoduo, tops the Hurun China Philanthropy List 2020. The billionaire gave US$1.85 billion in donations last year, according to the Hurun Research Institute. The second-most generous business leader on the list was Midea Group’s Founder He Xiangjian, who gave US$970 million last year. Continue reading in South China Morning Post →

SK Group’s building subsidiary rebrands to “SK Ecoplant” as part of efforts to enhance ESG management. The company plans to invest ₩3 trillion (US$2.67 billion) by 2023 towards its vision of growing from a conventional construction business into a leading environmental enterprise. The company will focus on expanding its use of eco-friendly building materials, embracing green technology, and transitioning towards a circular economy. Continue reading in The Korea Herald →

The Development Bank of Japan will increase ESG funding to ¥5.5 trillion (US$50.4 billion) over the next five years. The funding will support developments in hydrogen-based energy, electric vehicles and other emissions-cutting technology. It will also back companies adapting their business models to changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading in Nikkei Asia →

Governance failings impede Asian companies ESG efforts, according to latest Corporate Governance Watch Report. The 10th biennial report, “Future Promise,” by the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA) and CLSA provides an analysis of corporate governance in 12 markets. Despite recent progress on ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards in Asia, the report finds that the link between corporate governance and ESG policies lacks clarity, limiting meaningful sustainability efforts. While environmental issues remain high on the agenda for Asian governments, this report offers recommendations for improving corporate governance factors across the region. Continue reading in Reuters →

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

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

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

17 February 2021 - 01 March 2021

Korea’s Kim Bong-jin and his wife Bomi Sul are the latest to sign the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate half of their wealth. Kim Bong-jin is founder and CEO of Woowa Brothers, which created Korea’s largest food-delivery app. Kim and his wife are the first Koreans to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative started in 2010 by billionaires Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates to encourage the ultra-rich to give away most of their fortunes to philanthropy. This follows a recent announcement by Korean billionaire Kim Beom-su, who also pledged to donate over half of his wealth to charitable causes. Continue reading in Bloomberg →

I(x) Investments, co-founded by Warren Buffet’s grandson, is among those turning to Asia for impact investing. I(x) Investments has brought together more than 65 of the world’s wealthiest families from 14 countries to invest in climate and sustainability issues. The company is among those looking to Asia both to attract new impact investors and to allocate funds to. One of its biggest bets in the region is WasteFuel, a startup developing technology to convert municipal waste into jet fuel. With plans to build a US$700 million plant in the Philippines and replicate this model in other Asian countries, the startup has already received investment from several I(x) families, including Filipino billionaire Enrique Razon. Continue reading in Bloomberg →

Tata STRIVE and Wipro GE Healthcare partner up to bridge healthcare skill gap in India. As part of the CSR partnership, Wipro GE Healthcare will design, develop and implement industry-relevant training to help underprivileged students achieve gainful employment. Tata STRIVE, the skills development CSR initiative of the Tata Community Initiatives Trust, will provide the candidates loans upon qualifying for the course. The partnership aims to skill 6,200 candidates over a period of three years. Continue reading in The CSR Journal →

IKEA partners with local social enterprise Rags2Riches in the Philippines. The Swedish multi-national company is opening its first store in the Philippines and tapping the services of Rags2Riches for a three-year partnership. Rags2Riches, a social enterprise which employs female artisans from low-income communities to create sustainable fashion and home products, will be providing sewing services in IKEA’s Philippines store. As highlighted in CAPS’ study, Business for Good: Maximizing the Value of Social Enterprises in Asia, procuring from social enterprises like this is a win-win strategy that can advance sustainable consumption as well as provide the funding and capacity building support social enterprises need to grow. Continue reading in BusinessWorld →

The GiveIndia Fundraising Challenge 2021, India’s biggest fundraising event, is helping NGOs raise crores in funds. Nearly 200 nonprofits have already raised over Rs 2 crores (approximately US$275,000) since the challenge began on February 1. The challenge will run till March 28 and is expected to raise more than Rs 15 crore (approximately US$2 million) by then. Since the timing coincides with the end of the financial year, NGOs typically leverage tax savings donors would get for donating to them to appeal for funds. Continue reading in the Business Standard →

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

CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

04 February 2021 - 16 February 2021

Korean billionaire Kim Beom-su, founder of Kakao, vows to donate over half of his wealth. Kim, who has seen his wealth rise to US$7.9 billion during the pandemic, has pledged to donate more than half of his assets throughout his lifetime. Precise details of his donation have yet to be disclosed, but Kim is expected to make an official announcement soon according to Yonhap NewsContinue reading in Bloomberg Wealth →

Trive Ventures jointly launches US$2 million venture philanthropy fund with undisclosed Singapore-based family foundation. The “Tenacious Founders Venture Philanthropy Fund” will invest in Singapore-based entrepreneurs, aiming to be a short-term bridge for founders with limited financial resources. The fund will issue financial support up to US$75,000 per founder in the form of a redeemable SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) note. The family foundation involved has requested to remain anonymous. Continue reading in the Singapore Business Review →

In India, education, healthcare, and agriculture received the bulk of US$2.6 billion in impact investments in 2020. According to the Impact Investors Council’s 2020 annual report, India saw a rise in impact investment despite the global pandemic. The education sector had a marked year, with a 65% year-on-year growth in impact investment volumes. Impact investors also actively invested in early-stage healthcare and agriculture enterprises, showing increased interest in social enterprises that take care of people and the planet alike. Continue reading in Business Today →

All you need to know about the amendments to India’s CSR Act. The Government of India made amendments to the CSR Act last month, which are now effective. Samheeta Rao, partner at GameChanger Law Advisors, outlines these recent amendments and provides a comprehensive list of their implications for corporates and nonprofits. Continue reading on IDR’s website →

Prudence Foundation and partners launch second edition of the SAFE STEPS Disaster Tech (D-Tech) Awards. The Awards identify and scale technology solutions that save lives before, during, or after natural disasters. The Awards provide funding and expert coaching for the implementation and scaling of D-Tech solutions, as well as access to pitching and networking opportunities with humanitarian representatives, venture capital fund managers, and fellow entrepreneurs. Applications close on February 19. Continue reading on the Safe Steps website →

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