Role of philanthropy in the post-Covid era: Busting Boundaries to be Change Agents

Laurence Lien (Asia Philanthropy Circle)

Five years ago, when APC was first established, we began with a shared aspiration – that we need change agents to address Asia’s social challenges and that strategic and engaged philanthropists can be them.

Today amidst the greatest health and humanitarian challenge of our generation, the urgency for philanthropists to step up is even more pressing.

The study of boundaries is a critical one today. Problems are deeply interrelated. For example, Covid-19, a zoonotic disease, is a virus that jumped the boundary from nonhuman to human. And the impact of the disease spread has gone well beyond what is health-related, and has exposed and amplified the social inequities in the world.

Even before the Covid crisis, we have seen breakdowns resulting from boundaries not being sufficiently protected. This ranged from the #MeToo movement, triggered by personal boundaries being violated, to the globalisation crisis which germinated from the threats to national sovereignty and self-sufficiency. The climate emergency that we face is itself a result of humans failing in this age of Anthropocene to stay within the zone of stability and sustainability.

These crises are well-known. What is less understood though is the difficult work that lays ahead to address these challenges. More specifically, what is the role of philanthropists in dealing with problems that governments and businesses, with their infinitely vaster resources, cannot solve?

The road ahead is not problem solving that is more of the same. The same is everyone working in silos, when we need a united offensive. The same is sticking to single disciplines, when we need a multi-sectoral approach. And the same would be on fixing things through the tried and tested, when we need the messiness of systems transformation and leadership.

I would posit then that the heart of driving change lies in philanthropists busting boundaries in three ways: in our heads, in our hearts and in our hands.

In our heads, we need fresh ideas and new innovations. New insights often come from wading out to the edge of the boundary, often when it intersects with another, and marrying disconnected thoughts. Novel innovations often come from experimenting with these possibilities, and taking an evidence-based approach to grasp, understand and capture what works and what does not work.

Philanthropy, through offering patient, long-term capital then supports the unproven, early- stage high-risk/high-rewards interventions and organisations that other funders, e.g. government agencies, may struggle to fund.

In our hearts, we need deep compassion and true empathy. Compassion is critical to show that there is mutual care and support and to grow social capital that bridges heterogeneous groups, cutting across social cleavages in this divided world. Empathy goes even further: it helps one transcend boundaries to truly be in someone else’s shoes. With empathy, we can not only design better interventions, but also find the right partners and beneficiaries.

Philanthropy must go beyond being instrumental and transactional. It is about demonstrating care, in a reciprocal, social relationship. When it is seen as two-way, it creates social bonds and trust that in turn result in a stronger social fabric, which is the basis for collaboration and the joint creation of economic value.

Last but not least, through our hands, we need to get involved in the untidy action of crossing and busting boundaries, in order to deliver breakthroughs and systems change. The most creative ideas with the deepest passion would get nowhere if the groups we need to work with are maladaptive and fight back when challenged.

Philanthropy can identify and nurture systems leadership and entrepreneurship, mobilising coalitions of like-minded people who can continually reach out to and convert those who are on the “other side”. Sometimes this requires provoking the status quo, and sometimes it is about evoking a compelling shared vision.

Be it working with the head, heart or hands, the labour is tough. Philanthropists and impact sector leaders need to open up our individual boundaries to cooperate with others to address these complex, interdependent challenges.

So what has APC’s experience been these five years? On the positive side, more philanthropists than I expected are strategic; by which I mean they desire social impact as a primary goal. On the more challenging side, most want to pursue this on their own. Even when they want collaboration, the execution of joint action is tricky. We often have different conceptions of the pathway to impact, and there is no google map equivalent that can help find us a way there.

Overall, I would probably give the five-year scorecard an A-. While we would have liked to have had more members, the ones we have – 46 as I write this – have the right balance of head, heart and hands. They are also highly engaged, and we are able to have excellent programming, with deep learning and conversations.

We currently have 12 collaborative projects and funds catalysed by APC. Members do not just fund these projects, but also contribute their time and expertise. Many of these are greenfield projects, as we try to generate breakthroughs. And more than the direct impact, is the indirect one of demonstrating the benefits of working together.

Moving forward, we will continue to shape the future of Asian philanthropy, making strategic giving an ingrained value and making philanthropy more suited to our unique context. In doing this, we see each member as our ambassadors in philanthropy in their respective communities. And while we are strong in Southeast Asia, in the coming years, we will be expand our boundaries to include our friends from North and South Asia.

Ultimately, our goal is for local philanthropy to create disproportionate impact in solving problems in Asia. The journey is demanding, but we are full of hope, and invite other philanthropists working in Asia to join hands with us.

This excerpt has been published with the permission of APC. Their 2019/2020 Annual Report can be accessed here.

Who’s Doing Good

24 November 2020 - 07 December 2020

THE GIVERS

National Legacy Giving initiative to inspire philanthropic culture in Singapore. According to a Social Pulse Survey, there is a disconnect between awareness and action when it comes to legacy giving in Singapore. While the majority of respondents (83%) are aware of legacy giving, only 33% are considering it, and only 3% would follow through in planning such a bequest. In an effort to make legacy giving more common, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has launched a three-year national legacy giving initiative, titled, “A Greater Gift”. The initiative will work in partnership with wealth advisors and ambassadors—individuals who share why they chose to pursue legacy giving—to facilitate more awareness and planning. CFS will also support charities, especially smaller ones, which may not be equipped to engage legacy donors.

THE NONPROFITS

How a Bengaluru NGO raised Rs220 crore for fight against coronavirus. The India COVID Response Fund, a collective crowdfunding campaign by nonprofit GiveIndia has raised over Rs220 crore (approximately US$30 million) since its launch in March this year. The fund received early support from well-known foundations, high-net-worth individuals, and businesses, which helped spur further giving from individuals around the world. So far the fund has disbursed Rs190 crore (approximately US$26 million) in cash relief, humanitarian aid, and healthcare support to frontline workers through its network of verified nonprofits.

THE BUSINESSES

Businesses continue providing relief aid in the wake of Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses. The Philippines’ leading companies, including Ayala GroupSM Malls, and MVP Group, have ramped up relief efforts to help communities affected by recent super typhoons. To encourage more cash aid from abroad, the remittance service unit of the Philippines’ BDO Unibank is waving charges on typhoon donations from overseas Filipinos until December 31. The bank’s philanthropic arm, the BDO Foundation, has also distributed relief packs containing food, rice, and drinking water to more than 260,000 families in affected cities and municipalities. Foreign companies are also stepping up: fashion giant H&M donated US$200,000 to the Red Cross to meet the needs of 260,000 people affected in Vietnam and the Philippines. Japanese retailer Uniqlo donated US$1 million in aid through the SM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Philippines’ SM Group.

DBS steps up support for social enterprises with a record SG$9 million (approximately US$6.8 million) in grants and loans this year. DBS Bank has increased its financial support to help social enterprises cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through two new initiatives this year: the DBS Foundation Business Transformation and Improvement Grant and the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize. The DBS Foundation has also continued its flagship DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Program. Last week the foundation announced that SG$1.4 million (approximately US$1 million) has been awarded to 13 social enterprises in its 2020 cohort.

PwC India to upskill 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. PwC India announced the launch of its new collaborative initiative aimed at bridging the digital gap and upskilling 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years. This is part of PwC’s global collaboration with UNICEF and Generational Unlimited, a multi-sector partnership aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030. The program will act as a catalyst by working with a range of public and private stakeholders to create equitable opportunities for young people through enhanced employability and earnings potential. PwC India will provide broad support across three areas: Economic Opportunities and Employability, 21st Century Skilling and Learning, and Youth Engagement.

THE INNOVATORS

BillionBricks: the Singapore social enterprise tackling homelessness by building solar homes in the Philippines. Social enterprise BillionBricks is known for its pioneering invention, the WeatherHYDE emergency tent, which has been distributed around the world. However, in recognizing that this tent model was only an interim housing solution, the founders developed the BillionBricks Home: the world’s first self-financing, carbon-negative solar home solution. Each BillionBricks Home is equipped with solar panels that produce four times more energy than what is consumed, allowing families to sell unused energy to the grid and generate additional income. Prototypes for the BillionBricks Home have already been built in India and the Philippines, and in 2022 the first community of 500 solar homes will be built in the Philippines. If this model succeeds, BillionBricks plans to scale its solar-powered community globally by sharing its self-sustaining model as a playbook for organizations around the world to replicate.

Indonesians take local approach to massive problem of food waste. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Food Sustainability Index, Indonesia ranked 53rd out of 67 countries on food loss and waste. This Nikkei Asia article highlights Indonesian social sector organizations working to bridge the gap between food wastage and food insecurity. For instance, Garda Pangan redistributed discarded food from restaurants, local farmers, and business partners to provide 144,000 meals. Volunteer-led Foodbank of Indonesia has collected 1,200 tons of food this year alone that would have otherwise been wasted. While there is still a lack of awareness around food loss and waste in Indonesia, this article highlights the importance of social sector organizations in bringing attention to the issue and meeting immediate nutritional needs.

THE VOLUNTEERS

HealthServe’s Goh Wei-Leong shares how his nonprofit pivoted during Covid-19. As a medical doctor, Goh Wei-Leong co-founded the nonprofit HealthServe to provide marginalized migrant workers in Singapore with healthcare, counseling and social assistance. When Singapore’s Covid-19 outbreak led to the overnight loss of 95% of its medical volunteers, HealthServe had to pivot. The nonprofit rapidly launched teleconsultation services to make up for the shortfall and escalated the roll-out of mental wellness initiatives such as a virtual tele-counseling clinic and group intervention sessions. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, volunteers still remained engaged digitally and Goh credits the organization’s success to its volunteers: “The pandemic brought out the best among our volunteers and it shows that in the midst of struggling, there is a ray of hope.”

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

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.

Who’s Doing Good

27 October 2020 - 09 November 2020

THE GIVERS

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.

THE NONPROFITS

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.

THE BUSINESSES

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.

THE INNOVATORS

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.

THE VOLUNTEERS

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.

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

Who’s Doing Good

13 October 2020 - 26 October 2020

THE GIVERS

Ramon Ang recognized for Covid-19 response efforts at the Asia CEO Awards 2020. San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang was given the Lifetime Contributor Award at the Asia CEO Awards 2020, the largest business awards event in Southeast Asia. Ang was recognized for both his long-term contributions to the Philippines and his response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ang has been at the helm of SMC’s outreach program, which has distributed over Php13.180 billion (approximately US$273 million) in aid during the pandemic. SMC also spearheaded blood donation drives, built temporary quarantine facilities, distributed RT-PCR machines and test kits, and donated food and medical equipment. In addition, the company pivoted its business by repurposing liquor plants to manufacture alcohol disinfectant, and has recently announced the creation of the RSA Foundation to build a hospital specializing in infectious disease research. Despite the economic downturn, SMC has committed to continuing its current infrastructure projects and environmental programs focused on rehabilitating the Tullahan-Tinajeros River and the mangroves around Bulacan and Central Luzon.

THE NONPROFITS

An analysis of Chinese charitable trusts in 2020: pandemic-driven development. In the first half of 2020, 142 new charitable trusts were established in China, surpassing the usual figures for a whole year. The total assets of these newcomers reached ¥263 million (approximately US$40 million). These new trusts have played an important role in aiding the prevention and control of Covid-19. Although most have been set up for short-term pandemic-relief, many are also working in poverty alleviation, education, and other development areas. This surge in trusts comes from organizations that want to contribute to pandemic relief establishing charitable trusts, since the trust structure offers greater flexibility and more robust supervision. Yet they also have shortcomings: charitable trusts have yet to receive any concrete, preferential tax policies. 

THE BUSINESSES

China recruits Korean conglomerate to advise on ESG. Bloomberg reports on Beijing’s recent efforts to push companies to make ESG disclosures. Beijing recently tapped SK Group to help accelerate these efforts, since the Korean conglomerate has been leading ESG adoption in Asia. SK said it will team up with China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees the country’s government-run companies, to jointly establish a lab in Beijing to study and develop rating methods for ESG practices. While China has pledged to make its nearly 4,000 listed corporates publish ESG metrics by the end of this year, progress has been lagging. But with Covid-19 spurring inflows into ESG-related assets, there is greater imperative for companies to improve their ESG practices in order to access a share of the trillions of dollars currently invested in the ESG arena.

Nando’s Malaysia launches food donation program to help those in need while tackling excess food issues. Last week we reported on companies and nonprofits in Singapore working to bridge the food waste and food insecurity gap. As food insecurity worsens amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, similar initiatives have emerged across the region. In Malaysia, Nando’s has launched a food donation program “No Chuckin Our Chicken”, in conjunction with its ongoing community outreach efforts. The program allows the company to eliminate food wastage, while continuing to improve food supply and security for communities in need. The program involves 11 Nando’s outlets across Malaysia that have partnered with Kechara Soup Kitchen, The Lost Food Project, Malaysia Relief Agency Sabah, and other organizations. Throughout the pandemic, Nando’s Malaysia has collectively delivered MYR135,000 (approximately US$33,000) worth of food and supplies to local communities with the help of 17 charity partners. The “No Chuckin Our Chicken” program will be a permanent ongoing effort.

Uniqlo helps over 10,000 people through partnership with charity: water. Japanese fashion company Uniqlo is helping more than 10,000 people across India, Cambodia, Malawi, and Madagascar attain clean and drinkable water through its partnership with nonprofit charity: water. Uniqlo agreed to donate the proceeds of its €0.10 fee for paper bags at its stores to raise funds for the charity and reduce single-use plastic bags. The partnership will fund four different clean water solutions, two of which are in Asia: rainwater harvesting tanks in the Thar Desert in India and bio-sand filters in homes and schools in Cambodia.

THE INNOVATORS

NGO People In Need Cambodia and ArrowDot partner to develop tech solutions for disaster prevention. In 2013, People In Need Cambodia launched its Early Warning System 1294, a mobile phone-based public alert system for natural disasters. The nonprofit recently came up with the idea for Tep Machcha, a solar-powered device that gauges water levels and monitors the data to make reliable predictions of weather events. It partnered with ArrowDot, an IoT solutions company, to design, manufacture, and install the device in flood-prone areas—so far, 43 Tep Machcha devices have been installed nationwide. If water levels reach a dangerous depth, the online server sends a warning to the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM), which then sends mobile alerts to over 100,000 citizens enrolled in the Early Warning System 1294. The development and implementation of this tech-enabled solution offers an example of how the private sector can help accelerate innovation in the social sector.

Bridging the credit gap for India’s impact enterprises. Impact investors have committed around US$11 billion in impact capital in India in the past decade, and US$2.7 billion last year alone. However, more than 70% of these commitments are in the form of equity, and debt capital remains in short supply. For India’s two million social enterprises, this lack of access to credit and working capital is hindering the growth of the sector. In a new report, India Impact Investing Council and Bridgespan detail the barriers enterprises face in accessing credit, including perceived risk, unproven business models, and slim or no credit files. The report advocates for customizable tools including collateral-based senior debt, unsecured junior debt, quasi-equity, and grant-based finance to bridge the gap. The report also points out a strong need and opportunity for foundations to support the build out of debt financing, particularly for overlooked sectors like agriculture and healthcare. CAPS’ Business for Good study also speaks to the dearth of financing options for budding social enterprises, and urges impact investors to consider deploying their investment capital through a range of asset classes.

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

Who’s Doing Good

29 September 2020 - 12 October 2020
The Doing Good Index interactive site is now live! Packed with data from 18 Asian economies, the Doing Good Index 2020 studies the environment in which private capital meets societal needs. You can now compare how one economy performs against the Asia average, or even another economy, across four areas: Regulations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Ecosystem, and Procurement. Please visit: doinggoodindex.caps.orgAs Covid-19 increases the imperative for the public, private, and social sectors to work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable Asia, the Doing Good Index shows who can do what.

THE GIVERS

Raymond Roy Wong, Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of journalism’, donates HK$50 million (US$6.45 million) to Baptist University school of communication. The donation will be used to establish the Dorothy Shen Wong Memorial Fund, in honor of Wong’s late wife. The fund will support the teaching of media ethics, help advance practicing journalists, and provide scholarships for outstanding journalism students. The donation will also go towards setting up the first-ever Endowed Professorship in Media Ethics and Professional Journalism Fellowship at the university, alongside scholarships for students to acquire global exposure in the journalism field. Wong’s donation is the biggest single donation the school has received to date.

In the Philippines, tax perks await donors of computers and supplies to public schools. With schools having to transition to blended learning and online classes during Covid-19, donations of needed technology to public schools will now be rewarded with tax deductions. These new tax perks under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will be applied to donations of personal computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, printers, and other similar equipment. During the implementation period of the Bayanihan 2 Law (September 15 to December 19, 2020), corporate and individual donors will qualify for deductions from their gross income equivalent to the amount of donation. Further, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said that foreign donations will be exempt from value-added tax (VAT) as well as the requirement for ‘authority to release imported goods’ (ATRIG) to speed up the distribution of donations.

THE BUSINESSES

Companies in the Philippines are stepping up to support distance learning during Covid-19. Coca-Cola Philippines donated 200 desktop computers to its employees to support distance learning for their children during the pandemic. Gokongwei Brothers Foundation and Robinson’s Land Corporation donated 50 desktop computers and 10 laptops to Pasig City to support the local government unit’s fight against Covid-19. PLDT, its subsidiary Smart Communications, and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, as well as Microsoft and Google, to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector. This includes discounted PLDT Home Wifi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi units, pre-loaded 5G-ready SIM cards, and software licenses, among other digital solutions.

Philippine conglomerate Ayala closes new VC fund at US$180 million. Ayala Corporation’s new global venture capital fund is now the largest VC fund to emerge out of the Philippines. The Active Fund—short for Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture—plans to inject between US$2 million to US$10 million into global startups in their series A to series D stages. The Fund will focus on fintech, ecommerce, construction tech, and proptech ventures, as well as companies aiming to solve urban city issues in Asia. The fund will be managed by Kickstart Ventures, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom.

Sony doubles down on ESG goals amid coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Sony adopted an official mandate to increase its focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors and be an active stakeholder in the global community. During Covid-19, Sony has accelerated its ESG initiatives, including the launch of its own US$100 million fund for Covid-19 relief efforts in March. In addition to donating to education—such as supplying free programming learning kits in Japan, China, and the United States—the company has also deployed funds to aid those in the music industry. As part of its environmental initiatives, Sony has set up a separate fund to support startups developing environmental technologies, with plans to invest US$9.46 million over the course of the next three to five years. Alongside these and other ESG efforts, the company also aims to achieve a “zero environmental footprint” by 2050.

NagaWorld Kind Hearts donates US$2 million to Water Wells Foundation. NagaWorld Kind Hearts, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of NagaWorld, Cambodia’s largest hotel and gaming resort, announced a US$2 million donation to the Water Wells Foundation. This donation is NagaWorld’s answer to the Royal Government’s call for assistance in the sustainable rural development of Cambodia. Since 2014, NagaWorld Kind Hearts has conducted a range of CSR activities in Cambodia focused on education enhancement, community engagement, sports development, and environmental care, as well as aiding the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts over the past year.

THE INNOVATORS

Indonesia may have quietly beaten dengue fever. Indonesian researchers have quietly achieved a major breakthrough that could lead to the elimination of dengue fever—a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 8 million Indonesians per year. Working with the Tahija Foundation and Jogjakarta’s Gadja Mahda University, the World Mosquito Program has made stunning strides in efforts to reduce incidences of dengue in parts of Indonesia. This article details how trials in Jogjakarta have successfully increased the percentage of mosquitos with Wolbachia, which can help block the transmission of dengue and other viruses like zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This development is timely as Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported in June 2020 that 400 cities and districts across the country have recorded cases of double infection, where dengue and Covid-19 have occurred together in one patient.

Bridging the food waste and food insecurity gap: how Singaporeans are doing their part. Singapore’s food waste has risen by one fifth in the last decade, yet many remain without access to nutritious meals. This article highlights some recent innovations—from virtual food banking apps to social enterprise cloud kitchens—and how government, businesses, and nonprofits are coming together to ensure quality food donations and efficient distribution. These innovations and collaborations are also giving a boost to struggling sectors of the economy, such as the F&B industry. New sources of funding are also emerging in this area: DBS Foundation introduced a new Zero Food Waste category to its grant program this year and the government’s National Environment Agency announced a SG$1.76 million (approximately US$1.3 million) Food Waste Fund to cover the cost of implementing food waste treatment solutions for local organizations.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Tencent’s 9/9 Charity Day breaks fundraising records once again, but gains are unequally distributed. The year’s 9/9 Charity Day raised a record-breaking total of nearly US$450 million in donations. However, a recent report by the Charity Forum found that one-third of the total donations went to four big organizations—the Chongqing Charity Federation, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children, and Henan and Shaanxi provincial charity federations—all of which are organized and backed by the state. This leaves hundreds of smaller nonprofits and grassroots organizations competing for the remaining donations. Another report by Sixth Tone also raises the concern that after years of competing with these charity giants, some smaller nonprofits have ceased to participate at all.

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

Doing Good Index 2020 (日本語, Japanese)

アジアのソーシャルセクターのプロフィールと進むべき道

Doing Good Indexは、民間資金と社会的ニーズに関する社会状況に関する調査です。調査では、個人・団体のいわば思いつきの寄付から、ソーシャルセクターに対する組織的で戦略的な投資へ移行するための重要な成功要因を紹介します。データに基づいた洞察によって、フィランソロピーやインパクト投資、また他の民間の社会的投資を可能にするインフラ強化、そして究極的にはより包摂的で持続可能なアジアの未来に向けての道筋を示します。

Step Back for Advancing: Exploration and Practices of Chinese Foundations in Childhood Education

China Global Philanthropy Institute

In 2017, over 2,000 foundations in China carried out nearly 6,800 philanthropic programs in the field of childhood education. This report provides background on the current situation and policy environment in this field, and analyzes the features of these programs, their impact and future development trends. It also includes 12 in-depth case studies of innovative programs. Read it here: English, Chinese.

India’s Private Giving: Unpacking Domestic Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

OECD

This report shares select data on some of India’s domestic philanthropic giving and compares it to other sources of funding, such as official development assistance, international philanthropic flows and public social expenditures. It analyzes giving trends by sector and geography, and identifies both opportunities and challenges in achieving greater impact. Read it here.

China’s Most Generous: Examining Trends in Contemporary Chinese Philanthropy

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

This report is part of the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center’s China Philanthropy Project series. It provides information on China’s philanthropic landscape by studying the makeup and giving choices of China’s most generous individuals and corporates. It reveals trends of large-scale giving, and highlights four ranked lists including the top 100 individual donors and top 100 donors from corporations and other organizations. Read it here.