Philanthropists are donating supplies and funding initiatives supporting hard-hit communities.
Azim Premji, one of India’s most generous philanthropists, earmarked Rs1,125 crore (nearly US$150 million) to fight Covid-19. This charitable initiative is a joint effort by his eponymous foundation and Wipro, the IT company he founded. The Azim Premji Foundation is giving US$132 million, Wipro’s commitment is around US$14 million, and Wipro Enterprises around US$4 million. The funds will focus on providing immediate humanitarian aid.
Ratan Tata, Tata Trusts chairman and CAPS advisory board member, took to Twitter after he announced a Rs500 crore (approximately US$66 million) donation. In his message he stated, “In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the Covid-19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face.” Tata Sons and Tata Trusts have contributed a combined Rs1,500 crore (approximately US$200 million) to the fight against Covid-19.
Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, co-founders of Alibaba, have donated 2.3 million masks, 170,000 pieces of protective gear, and 2,000 ventilators to New York—the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
Charities are stepping up their operations and joining forces to serve communities affected by Covid-19.
Meer Foundation, an NGO that works to rehabilitate burn and acid attack survivors and empower women in India, is joining the fight against Covid-19. Along with Ek Saath-The Earth Foundation, it will provide food to over 5,500 families and set up a kitchen to produce 2,000 cooked meals for households and hospitals in India. Meer Foundation and Roti Foundation will provide 300,000 meal kits for 10,000 people per day for at least a month. Meer Foundation will also provide essential items and groceries to over 3,500 wage workers across Delhi.
China NGO Consortium for Covid-19 was jointly launched by foundations (including the Narada Foundation) and local NGOs on February 2, 2020. So far, 67 Chinese foundations and NGOs have joined the consortium to share information and technical knowledge, build the capacity of front-line NGOs, and mobilize funding. The consortium also fosters collaborating to coordinate the social sector’s response to the pandemic.
Singapore’s Community Chest, the fundraising arm of the government’s National Council of Social Service, is giving SG$3,000 (approximately US$2,100) to social service agencies to cope with outbreak-related expenses.
Companies are setting up their own Covid-19 relief funds, leveraging their resources to contribute to relief efforts, and supporting government initiatives. Others are offering medical supplies, food and beverages, and cash vouchers to affected communities. Companies across Asia are also taking a “business not as usual” approach to help relieve financial stress.
Setting up funds to help combat Covid-19.
Hang Lung Group established the Hang Lung Novel Coronavirus Relief Fund to support a series of volunteering activities to combat Covid-19. This includes delivering health and food kits to over 10,000 beneficiaries in Hong Kong and mainland China. Hang Lung also donated nearly US$1 million from the Fund to Leishenshan Hospital.
Bajaj Group committed Rs100 crore (nearly US$14 million) to the fight against Covid-19 in India. The funding will go towards multiple initiatives including upgrading healthcare infrastructure, testing, and procuring medical equipment. A significant portion will go towards an economic aid program in rural areas, which includes direct survival grants followed by a livelihood intervention using a revolving fund mode.
Jollibee Group allocated nearly US$20 million for an emergency fund to provide its employees with the needed financial support during the quarantine period enforced in the Philippines. The fund covers all employees of the Group’s offices, stores, commissaries, and logistics centers, including senior citizens and people with disabilities assigned to stores under the joint employment program with local government units.
Gokongwei Group’s philanthropic arm, the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, established a near US$2 million fund to help fight Covid-19 in the Philippines. Funds are earmarked for front-line healthcare workers and will be distributed among UP Medical Foundation, referral hospitals identified by the Department of Health, and other hospitals at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. The Foundation has also distributed in-kind donations, including PPE.
The Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings Group of the Ty family pledged a US$4 million fund for initiatives that support the fight against Covid-19 in the Philippines. These initiatives will help produce test kits and purchase PPE for front-line healthcare workers.
Macquarie Group is joining the effort and allocating A$20 million (approximately US$13 million) to the Macquarie Group Foundation to support select nonprofits in their response and relief work for Covid-19. Alongside this, the Foundation is offering flexible funding to its grantees during this time.
Supporting government initiatives.
Aboitiz Group’s Ramon Aboitiz Foundation partnered with the Cebu City government and the Metropolitan Cebu Water District for #HUNAW, a handwashing campaign to help mitigate Covid-19. The initiative includes installing sinks in areas with low water supply and without clean handwashing facilities, as well as deploying handwashing trucks to reach impoverished communities and densely populated informal settlements.
PLDT, one of the Philippines’ largest telecommunications companies, teamed up with the Department of Health to establish an emergency hotline for Covid-19. PLDT chairman and chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said the collaboration is part of the company’s continuing efforts to fight Covid-19, noting that the hotline can help provide information and enable health authorities to deliver proper patient diagnosis and treatment.
India’s PM CARES fund, the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, has seen significant contributions from India’s private sector. Among the list of donations are: Rs500 crore (approximately US$67 million) from Reliance Industries; Rs400 crore (approximately US$53 million) from Aditya Birla Group; Rs150 crore (approximately US$20 million) from HDFC Group; Rs105 crore (approximately US$14 million) from LIC; and Rs50 crore (US$7 million) from Uday Kotak and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Bangladesh Association of Banks donated Tk147.73 crore (approximately US$18 million) to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for purchasing medical equipment to combat Covid-19.
Indonesian conglomerate Bakrie Group donated US$1.2 million to the Covid-19 taskforce led by the government’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Bakrie Group CEO and president director Anindya Bakrie stated that his company wanted to contribute to helping the government combat the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia as the pandemic had led to a “multi-dimensional crisis”.
Korean conglomerate LG will donate 50,000 diagnostic test kits to Indonesia to help the Indonesian government handle the spread of Covid-19.
Companies are leveraging their resources to help fight Covid-19. Examples include: Godrej Group, which launched the #ProtektIndiaMovement, a nationwide campaign to promote mass awareness around handwashing. As the country’s second-largest soap maker, the Group has pledged to ramp up its production to meet the demand for soap and sanitizers. Indorama Ventures (IVL), the Thai petrochemical company, is accelerating the production of a fiber to make 54 million masks in one month.
Companies are donating PPE, test kits, and other medical equipment to front-line healthcare workers and affected communities. Examples include: Hang Lung Group in Hong Kong and mainland China; Aboitiz Group, SM Group, and Filinvest Development Corp in the Philippines; Chaudhary Group in Nepal; and Sido Muncul and Mayapada Group and the Tahir Foundation in Indonesia.
Companies are donating food, beverages, and cash vouchers to communities affected by quarantine measures, such as low-income families and daily-wage earners. Examples include: Aboitiz Group’s food subsidiary Pilmico, Fruitas Holdings, Manila Water Foundation, Jollibee Group, and San Miguel Corporation in the Philippines; Chaudhary Group in Nepal; Sido Muncul and Mayapada Group and the Tahir Foundation in Indonesia; and Reliance Industries in India. Companies with large numbers of daily-wage earners in their ecosystem, like Zee Group in India, are committing to continuing their pay to ensure that families of daily-wage earners are not severely impacted during Covid-19.
Companies in the Philippines are joining forces through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a private sector disaster risk reduction and management network. PDRF has partnered with Globe Telecom’s e-wallet service Gcash, Fintech Alliance Philippines, Smart Communications’ e-wallet service Paymaya, and crowdfunding platform Gava Gives to purchase PPE for healthcare institutions. Another example is Project Ugnayan, a fundraising initiative led by top business conglomerates in cooperation with the PDRF and Caritas Manila. The initiative has reached a total of P1.62 billion (approximately US$33 million) in donations to aid those economically displaced by the ongoing Enhanced Community Quarantine in Greater Metro Manila.
Real estate companies are waiving rent so that tenants can lend more financial assistance to their employees. Examples include: SM Supermalls, Gokongwei Group’s Robinsons Land Corp, and Filinvest Lifemalls in the Philippines; and Central Pattana, Phuket Square, and Rangsit Plaza in Thailand.
Banks are setting forth financial relief measures for their customers. The Straits Times shares examples of banks around the world, including in Singapore and Malaysia, that are suspending loan repayments as Covid-19 upends financial stability for many borrowers. Another example is Gokongwei Group’s Robinsons Bank in the Philippines, which is offering its customers an extension of the payment period for their various loan products.
Another company taking a “business not as usual” approach is Coca-Cola Philippines. It canceled all of its commercial advertising activities and dedicated its advertising budget of US$2.94 million to supporting Covid-19 relief and response efforts. The funds will support front-line healthcare workers and economically challenged communities in the Philippines. The company also pledged support to its distributors who serve small sari-sari stores and carinderias.
THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
While social enterprises are joining the fight against Covid-19, they’re also bearing the financial brunt of the pandemic.
Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre surveyed 239 startups and social enterprises in Malaysia on the impact of Covid-19 on their business. About 25% said they will not be able to survive for longer than two more months, and a mere 3% are confident of surviving at all if Covid-19 continues for more than 12 months. When asked about the need for financial aid, 35% said they needed loans, 24% asked for grants or subsidies, and 4% asked for deferment in repayments. However, the majority (75%) were unaware or unsure of the various support instruments or incentives available during this time. For example, Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara, and CIMB Bank have both set forth financial relief measures for borrowers.
Social innovation is leading to new ways to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Thai hospitals deploy ‘ninja robots’ to aid coronavirus battles. The robots were first built to monitor recovering stroke patients but have been quickly repurposed to help fight Covid-19. So far, the robots have helped staff at four hospitals in and around Bangkok to reduce the risk of infection by allowing doctors and nurses to speak to patients over video. Later models will be designed to bring food and medicine to patients and to disinfect hospital wards.
In this section, we usually share stories about scandals that are having negative repercussions for the social sector. With the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, there are some trust-breaking stories circulating from price-gouging to faulty medical supplies. Fortunately, the stories of people being constructive during these times far outnumber them. We look forward to bringing more of these positive stories to you in the coming weeks.
Azim Premji Foundation published a Covid-19 Pandemic Response Plan, a set of guidelines for civil society organizations in India looking to join the fight against Covid-19 and amplify their efforts. The Foundation brought together experts and practitioners from relevant fields to adumbrate areas of response in which organizations can contribute significantly to relief efforts, including assessing critical needs and conducting the “last-mile connect and delivery” of supplies and services to extend the reach of government relief measures.
We’d also like to hear from you. How is your organization responding to Covid-19? Email us your stories at email@example.com.