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  

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Engaging Civil Society Organizations to Enhance the Effectiveness of COVID-19 Response Programs in Asia and the Pacific

Asia Development Bank (ADB)

This brief advocates for civil society organizations (CSO) to take an active role in Covid-19 response programs to complement government efforts. It highlights the success of CSOs in delivering social programs in Asia Pacific, including immunization and social protection programs. A framework for governments to expand CSO engagement in Covid-19 response programs is offered, specifying six programmatic areas for CSO intervention. These are: vaccine distribution, community outreach and surveillance; verification of civil vaccine-related works; gaps in vaccine service delivery; inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable people in remote areas; and assisting audit and anti-corruption agencies. Read it here.

Beauty of the Human Spirit: Covid-19 in Thailand (Jan-Oct 2020)

Centre for Philanthropy and Civil Society, National Institute of Development Administration

This report examines the response of Thai society during the Covid-19 pandemic. It details the contributions of various sectors—government, private sector, the public and civil society—including how these different sectors united to meet rising needs. The role of village health volunteers and the impact of the pandemic on the NGO sector are spotlighted.

The report relies on data from an opinion survey of 1,315 Thai respondents to support its findings. Read it here.

The Pandemic and Public Administration: A Survey of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers

Centre for Policy Research

This report presents the results of a representative survey of over 500 IAS officers, conducted between August and September 2020 (about 7 months into the Covid-19 pandemic). It offers insight into the critical challenges related to the government response to the pandemic. In doing so, it also reveals the government’s views on the role of the social sector, private sector, and others during the pandemic. This report is part of a larger body of work on understanding the norms and values underpinning different state institutions in India. 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 

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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 →

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CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

26 May 2021 - 8 June 2021

Wang Xing, Founder of Meituan, gives big. Wang recently donated over US$2 billion worth of shares in the food-delivery giant to his philanthropic foundation. Meituan said the funds will go towards education and scientific research. Wang’s donation is in line with the recent trend of Chinese tech billionaires substantially increasing their philanthropic giving. Continue reading in The Wall Street Journal →

Companies in Asia set up Covid-19 inoculation programs for employees and their families. In India, companies including HCLBajaj Auto and Samsung India have launched employee vaccination campaigns. Japanese companies are also stepping up and inoculating employees, which will help the government double the number of daily vaccinations to 1 million. Companies in Southeast Asia rolled out similar initiatives in the second quarter of this year.

Terry Gou, Founder of Foxconn, pledges US$228 million to purchase 5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as Taiwan sees a spike in Covid-19 infections. The donation is expected to also cover the cost of transportation, cold chain logistics and storage, distribution, and administration. Continue reading in Taiwan News 

92% of youth-led enterprises in the Asia Pacific negatively impacted by Covid-19, according to Youth Co:Lab. The organization—co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation—recently launched their report, “How Young Entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific Responded to COVID-19.” It discloses how lockdowns, shrinking demand, supply chain disruptions and a credit crunch challenged these enterprises. They responded by pivoting business strategy, launching new products and services, and transforming business models. The report also showcases over 40 innovative youth-led solutions aiding the region’s Covid-19 recovery.

Japan’s impact investing market has potential to grow to ¥2.64 trillion (approximately US$24 billion). The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG-NAB) Japan recently launched their report, “The Current State and Challenges of Impact Investing in Japan.” It highlights trends in impact investing—including growing interest from corporates and the issuance of Japan’s first sustainability-linked bond—and forecasts market size. This is encouraging news as there is much room for growth; according to CAPS’ study Business for Good, only 9% of social enterprises in Japan receive private investment.

Asian philanthropists pool US$1.5 million to contribute 600,000 doses towards COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine target. Singapore-based Asia Philanthropy Circle raised this funding from 10 philanthropists and philanthropic organizations. Their pooled donation will be matched by a public charity through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, bringing total funding to US$3 million. Continue reading on Asia Philanthropy Circle’s website 

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CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

28 April 2021 - 12 May 2021

As cases continue to surge in India, ordinary citizens, charities and companies are working to mitigate the crisis. In many places, volunteers are filling the gaps by organizing charity drives and sourcing supplies. India’s younger generation is fighting the pandemic by setting up crowdsourcing apps and building online databases with real-time information on medical resources and oxygen availability across the country. Companies are continuing to aid the fight: Bajaj Group pledged an additional ₹200 crore (US$27 million); Accenture pledged US$25 million; Reliance Foundation is setting up an additional 1,000 bed facility in Jamnagar; tech companies from CRED to Google are also providing aid. While companies, charities, and ordinary citizens are stepping up, India’s ultra-rich are facing criticism for not giving more during this second wave.

Prime Minister Modi has asked NGOs and civil society groups to provide further help to medical professionals. However, nonprofits are saying that the FCRA amendments the government introduced last September have crippled the sector and limited their ability to access and distribute crucial foreign aid at this time. They are asking for FCRA requirements to be put in abeyance as the country battles the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thailand’s social sector is facing potential restrictions on foreign funding. In February, the Thai Cabinet approved a draft law in the name of creating more transparency in the social sector. The law has since drawn criticism from those in the sector, including human rights groups, and three United Nations Special Rapporteurs, who are concerned it would bring to heel the country’s NGOs. Section 6 of the draft law would place restrictions on organizations that receive foreign funding. This could have ramifications for the sector, as CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that 52% of social delivery organizations in Thailand receive foreign funding.

Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) begin construction of disaster, pandemic facility. The BPI Bayanihan Center will be a two-story, multi-purpose facility in Batangas City for people burdened by disasters and pandemics. The facility was intended to serve those severely affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in 2020, but its design has since been modified so that it can also function as a health care facility. The center will also be open for community programs and activities on occasion. Continue reading in The Manila Times →

NGO Rise Against Hunger and corporate partners join hands to end hunger in the Philippines. The number of people going hungry in the Philippines reached a record high during the pandemic, according to a Social Weather Stations survey. Rise Against Hunger stepped up to mobilize its staff and corporate volunteers to deliver food to various communities nationwide. With an ambitious goal to end hunger by 2030, the nonprofit’s corporate and government partnerships have been a key pillar in effectively reaching the poorest communities. Continue reading in The Manila Standard →

DBS Foundation doubles its grant program for social entrepreneurs to SG$3 million (approximately US$2.3 million). The philanthropic arm of DBS Bank has increased the funding pool of its grant program to support more social enterprises in the region as the pandemic persists. Social enterprises from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, India, and Indonesia are eligible to apply. Continue reading in the Singapore Business Review →

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CAPS Spotlight: Who’s Doing Good

14 April 2021 - 27 April 2021

Amid an oxygen shortage in India, businesses and NGOs are stepping in to aid India’s Covid-19 fight. Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani is supplying oxygen from Reliance’s refineries in Jamnagar to Maharashtra at no cost. Indian tech startups Zomato and Paytm have launched donation drives on their platforms to help provide oxygen concentrators. NGOs Hemkunt Foundation and Khalsa Aid India are helping source and distribute oxygen cylinders. NGO Red Crescent Society is leading an initiative to distribute oxygen cylinders through mosques in the Mumbai metropolitan region. Other actors are also stepping in: Star Special Air Gases Private Limited, a gas plant in Manesar, is refilling oxygen cylinders for free. As cases and deaths surge across the country, the government recently announced that spending by corporates for setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary Covid-19 care facilities will qualify as CSR activities under the companies law.

Tencent’s Pony Ma pledges US$7.7 billion of the social-media giant’s money for social causes. This fresh bequest—19 times the company’s donations last year—will go to projects ranging from rural development to carbon neutrality. It will also go towards investing in startups, which aligns with President Xi’s blueprint for national development. Continue reading in Reuters →

Community pantries offer reprieve from Covid-19 hardships in the Philippines. What began as a humble cart with free food has grown into over 300 donation-driven pantries across the country. This multi-sector effort to provide food and essential items to those in need has become an important service as the country faces one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the region. However, unsubstantiated claims by local police and a government task force that these pantries are affiliated with insurgents, a practice called ‘red-tagging’, has led to concern about the safety of volunteers. Continue reading in The Washington Post →

Li Ka Shing Foundation donates HK$30 million (approximately US$4 million) to The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The donation will go towards the expansion of research facilities at the Institute of Health Sciences. The institute was officially opened 14 years ago with support from Li’s foundation, and has developed into the flagship translational biomedical research center in the region. Continue reading in The Standard →

Ride hailing company Uber and NGO HelpAge India help aid vaccination efforts with free rides. Uber’s partnership with NGO HelpAge India will provide 25,000 free rides over the coming months to facilitate the vaccination of the vulnerable and disadvantaged elderly in 19 cities. This follows an earlier initiative where Uber provided 60,000 free rides to aid India’s vaccination drive. Continue reading in The Times of India →

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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.