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.

The State of Social Enterprise in South East Asia

British Council and UNESCAP

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

Individual reports can be accessed here:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Who’s Doing Good?

8 June 2020 - 21 June 2020

THE GIVERS

Singaporeans donated SG$90 million in first five months of 2020, equal to whole of last year’s donations. From January to May of this year, SG$90 million (approximately US$64 million) was donated to the Community Chest, the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund, and through the online donation platform Giving.sg. This amount was around the same as the total donations received by the Community Chest and Giving.sg in the entire year of 2019, according to a joint statement by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Social and Family Development.

17th China Philanthropy Ranking released. The 17th edition of the annual China Philanthropy Ranking, supported by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Charity Times, was released on June 16. This year’s ranking includes 118 philanthropists with a total of ¥5.45036 billion (approximately US$771 million) in donations, and 605 companies with a total of ¥1.245 trillion (approximately US$176 billion) in donations.

THE THINKERS

GIIN’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey released. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) released the 10th edition of its flagship report, which provides an overview of the global impact investing market. This report includes an updated market sizing analysis—estimating the current market size at US$715 billion—trends analysis, and insights on topics such as climate investing, the evolution of impact measurement, and policy developments over the past decade. CAPS’ recent study, Business for Good: maximizing the value of social enterprises in Asia, points out that impact investment in Asia is not yet living up to its full potential. While Asia accounts for nearly 50% of global GDP, GIIN’s latest report finds that only 14% of global impact investment is allocated to the region.

CEO of Singapore’s NVPC argues corporate giving during Covid-19 more than just a PR exercise. Melissa Kwee, CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), highlights examples of corporate efforts amidst Covid-19 that aligned a company’s purpose and expertise to enable more strategic giving. She cites Temasek, which leveraged its supply chain networks to provide hand sanitizers to all Singaporean households, and the Singapore Metal & Machinery Association, which mobilized a donation of 3,800 sets of PPEs. Kwee states that this is a step up from past CSR efforts that can sometimes be peripheral to the business or more reactive activities that lack a larger strategic intent.

THE BUSINESSES

Covid-19 covers 80% of CSR budget for India Inc., according to Crisil Foundation. According to the Foundation, CSR spending thus far has been in the form of contributions to the PM CARES Fund and other relief funds, as well as distribution of food, PPE, and other relief supplies to the needy. The Foundation’s chief operating officer stated, “Interestingly, the 130 companies analyzed by Crisil accounted for nearly 80% of the total CSR spend by all listed companies in fiscal 2019. Assuming other companies would have followed a similar path, India Inc. has already allocated over 80% of the annual CSR budget to address the pandemic. This could impact spending on other areas this fiscal year.”

ASEAN and The Asia Foundation, with support from Google.org, collaborate to equip 200,000 micro and small enterprises with digital skills and tools amidst the Covid-19 crisis. The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and The Asia Foundation have jointly launched ‘Go Digital ASEAN,’ supported by a US$3.3 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm. The initiative will focus on expanding economic opportunities across ASEAN member states and mitigating the negative impact from the Covid-19 crisis. It aims to close the digital divide by equipping micro and small enterprises, as well as underemployed youth in rural and isolated areas, with crucial digital skills and tools.

Largest donation for Philippines’ fight against Covid-19 came from Project Ugnayan of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) at US$29.1 million. PDRF, the Philippines’ major private sector vehicle and coordinator for disaster management, has made the largest contribution to the government’s Covid-19 response to date: US$29.1 million. The next biggest donors to the government’s relief efforts are USAID, San Miguel Corporate, and Unilab. Ayala Group, which took an active part in Project Ugnayan, has set forth an array of other relief efforts to tackle Covid-19 in the Philippines. Recently, Ayala Group donated an automated RNA Extraction machine and two RT-PCR machines to Southern Philippines Medical Center and other institutions, which will help Davao boost its testing capacity to a maximum of 1,000 tests per day.

Tzu Chi Foundation Indonesia raised Rupiah 500 billion (approximately US$36 million) towards fighting Covid-19. The six biggest donors to the Foundation’s Covid-19 initiative were Sinarmas, Djarum, Indofood, Astra, Agung Sedayu Group, and Artha Graha Peduli. The funds will be used to purchase various equipment needed to help handle the outbreak in Indonesia.

Excelerate Energy has become the key sponsor of the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh to support the organization’s Covid-19 relief efforts at the Rohingya camp outside Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh—home to more than a million refugees. The US company’s donation will provide up to 10,000 patients a year with outpatient and in-patient services, diagnostics, critical care, emergency transportation. It will also fund PPE for staff and surrounding community, staff training, and awareness programs.

Mastercard builds on Covid-19 response with commitment to expand financial inclusion initiative. The new commitment—an extension of Mastercard’s 2015 pledge to bring 500 million excluded people into the financial system—will bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro- and small- businesses worldwide into the digital economy by 2025. This article shares examples of Mastercard’s financial inclusion initiatives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

American Express India has pledged INR 9 crores (approximately US$1.2 million) towards Covid-19 relief efforts. This includes contributions to the PM CARES Fund and nonprofits working in Covid-19 relief areas—such as mobilizing essential supplies, providing medical kits, feeding healthcare professionals, and developing and providing PPE to vulnerable communities. American Express India has also partnered in an initiative called ‘Hunger Heroes’ that will help distribute dry rations and essential supplies to the families of 10,000 food delivery riders impacted by the pandemic.

PwC Singapore launches new initiatives to support the community amidst Covid-19. The company is releasing “Digital Fitness for the World,” a learning app aimed at increasing digital acumen and upskilling, to the public for free from June 8 onwards. PwC is also working to help small and medium enterprises accelerate digitization with dedicated digital advisory services, solutions, and upskilling programs. Other Covid-19 initiatives from PwC include purchasing and distributing food to vulnerable communities.

THE INNOVATORS

Indonesia-based e-sports company helping fight Covid-19 through streaming, direct action. EVOS Sports, which operates across Southeast Asia, has initiated a number of efforts, including streaming matches and collaborating with influencers and social delivery organizations, to give back. For example, in Malaysia, EVOS Sports’ PUBG Mobile team played matches among themselves over a livestream and encouraged viewers to contribute to the “Give with Ikhlas” charity initiative, which has raised RM1 million (approximately US$230,000) so far. In Thailand and Indonesia, EVOS Sports’ athletes have also stepped on the ground to cook 3,000 meals for the underprivileged and donate 50,000 masks and surgical gloves.

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