Tanoto Foundation, Temasek Foundation International donate PCR equipment to GSI Lab. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report on Indonesia highlighted the need for the country to increase its lab capacity to test suspected Covid-19 cases, as the country lags the Philippines and India in testing. Indonesia’s low testing rate has persisted as laboratories face problems ranging from limited testing equipment and delays in reported results. Genomik Solidaritas Indonesia Lab (GSI Lab), a social enterprise supporting the government’s Covid-19 testing efforts, currently has the capacity to conduct 5,000 tests daily. Thanks to this new donation of PCR equipment from the Tanoto Foundation and Temasek Foundation International, GSI Lab will be able to conduct an additional 600 tests per day.
After fight with prostate cancer, ex-banker Nazir Razak initiates awareness campaign. Former chairman of CIMB Group, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak will help lead a nationwide campaign against prostate cancer this November with the Urological Cancer Trust Fund of Universiti Malaya. A prostate cancer survivor himself, Razak is publicly sharing his experience in hopes that it will help the campaign raise awareness. The campaign is also providing knowledge enhancement programs for doctors and a dedicated website that contains health education resources for the public, patients, and healthcare professionals. According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry, more than 60% of prostate cancer cases in the country are diagnosed at the advanced stage, while the comparable statistics are much lower in Singapore (25-30%) and the United States (less than 20%). The annual campaign will work to lower this number to 40% by 2025. Nazir Razak sits on CAPS’ Advisory Board.
With more Hongkongers needing food assistance during Covid-19, two local NGOs step up with volunteer delivery effort. Demand for food assistance in Hong Kong is greater than ever this year as residents face financial difficulty during Covid-19. This has prompted two local nonprofits—volunteer organization HandsOn Hong Kong and local food bank Feeding Hong Kong—to launch “Care Delivered”. This service aims to ensure food donations actually reach recipients, which has been hard with social distancing measures in place. Feeding Hong Kong will source the food, while HandsOn Hong Kong will organize volunteers to provide the manpower needed to distribute the food. “Care Delivered” has been selected as one of the 19 beneficiaries of Hong Kong’s annual charity fundraising campaign Operation Santa Claus (organized by South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong), and it will begin its delivery service in March 2021.
Microsoft, Accenture to nurture startups by social entrepreneurs in India. Microsoft and Accenture announced they will expand their joint initiative, announced earlier this year, on supporting startups in agriculture, education, and healthcare. The program will now also include startups solving critical business challenges related to sustainability and skilling. The program entails Microsoft Research India and Accenture Labs providing mentorship and support to help startups build scalable solutions and business models. This includes testing and validating proof-of-concepts and conducting design thinking sessions. Startups also receive resources from Microsoft and support in using these technologies to scale solutions.
Asia’s aspiring ‘green-collar’ workers hope for jobs in Covid-19 recovery. A new Singapore-based website is tapping into the growing demand for environmentally focused careers in Asia. It is billed as the first of such initiatives in Southeast Asia—a region that often comes under threat from natural disasters. The “Green Collar” portal lists jobs from renewable energy to farming and climate change in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, with plans to gradually include job opportunities in other parts of the region. This comes as countries around the world are pledging to a “green recovery” from Covid-19. For example, Singapore said in August that it would create 55,000 green jobs over the next decade in the environment and agriculture sectors, while South Korea pledged in July to spend US$95 billion on green projects to boost the economy. The rising demand for green jobs coupled with stimulus measures aimed at concurrently revitalizing economies and fighting climate change augur well for the development of the ‘green sector’ in Asia.
CapitaLand promotes spirit of volunteerism among its employees. CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest diversified real estate groups, continues to be a leading example in how employee volunteering schemes can amplify the impact of CSR initiatives by contributing time and expertise in addition to funding. CapitaLand was among the first companies in Singapore to formalize a three-day Volunteer Service Leave system in 2006. Since then, it has expanded its leave policy to include Volunteer No-Pay Leave, Volunteer Part-Time Leave, and other initiatives. Employees can also take paid leave for volunteering as part of the company’s International Volunteer Expedition (IVE) program, in which employees volunteer at one of CapitaLand’s 29 Hope Schools across China and Vietnam. Such policies and initiatives have helped drive employee volunteerism: CapitaLand employees have volunteered over 170,000 hours between 2006 and 2019.
IN OTHER NEWS…
After government refusal, some foreign nonprofits start diverting funds from cash distribution plan. As much as US$3 million was supposed to be spent in cash distribution by international NGOs in Nepal to communities affected by Covid-19. However, the Nepalese government introduced standards on relief distribution in April, which prioritized distribution of goods instead of cash. This article in The Kathmandu Post explores why the government has clamped down on cash distribution and how foreign NGOs are responding. In the meantime, these nonprofits are facing difficulty convincing donors to allow them to divert funds meant for cash transfers to be used for other relief materials. This has translated to delays in the distribution of much-needed support to those in need.
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