Social Investors in Asia embark on a new era to revive global and national economies through collaboration

2022-06-28 16:28 2374

The AVPN Global Conference puts under-represented Asian voices on a world stage to form new partnerships; with Asia holding 63% of the world's population and 42% of its wealth.

  • "This is the decade for action, the decade for decision," says Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO AVPN
  • Western models don't adequately address local issues - Asian leaders need to step up
  • Investors must allow investees to decide where best to utilise funds - local communities must be part of solutions
  • Impact investment is on a growth trajectory in SE Asia says Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan

BALI, Indonesia, June 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The world's largest networking event for Social Investors in Asia, the AVPN Global Conference, has concluded in Bali, with the recommendations from the event to be handed to world leaders attending the G20 in Bali in November this year. One of the strongest themes to emerge from the event was that Asian voices have been under-represented on the world stage, despite Asia holding 63% of the world's population and 42% of its wealth, and that this has to change now if the world has any hope of reaching its SDG goals.

Pictured: Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President, Program Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation, addressing the crowd at the AVPN Global Conference.
Pictured: Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President, Program Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation, addressing the crowd at the AVPN Global Conference.

Naina Subberwal Batra, AVPN CEO said it was time to rethink how capital is accumulated and deployed in Asia because Western models of philanthropy don't adequately address local issues. The funding gap for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals has doubled since the pandemic, with Asian nations disproportionately affected, so she urged Asian funds to fill the gap and said the power dynamic must move to the frontline with those who best understand how to create impact in developing communities.

Declaring the Asian revolution has arrived, she called on Asian leaders to step up and leapfrog the world, saying, "This is the decade for action, the decade for decision. This is our decade - the Asian decade."

Ms Batra's speech was followed by an opening address from Minister Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, who said that blended and sustainable finance would be key to developing back better from the pandemic. He also highlighted the importance of collaboration to ensure outcomes.

"This year is the starting era for the revival of the global and national economy, especially for the tourism and creative economy sector," Minister Sandiaga Una said. "I believe through our collaborations, we could use some of the opportunities of this philanthropic network to subdue the devastating impacts of the pandemic."

The event was held with the support of Kemenparekraf (The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy), with Minister Uno saying he hoped the conference would provide solutions and opportunities in terms of a sustainable and inclusive economy, to create a safe environment, increase productivity, stability and security and also to strengthen global leadership, especially in Asia.

Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment of Indonesia, said, "Over the last few years, impact investing in Southeast Asia has been on a growth trajectory Southeast Asia secured 298 deals with over USD 6 billion. Indonesia remains the largest market compared to other countries in Southeast Asia with 28% of the total deals by volume and 21% by value."

Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, Co-Chair of the T20 think tank, said the G20 was still dominated by its developed nation members but it was time to shift this dynamic.

"We hope by being the host of the G20, we can share a vision that is closer to the needs of developing nations," he said.

With pooled funds key to solving major issues, AVPN, with its partners, announced several new funds during the course of the Conference including:

  • USD 25m Gender Fund - which will be launched at the G20
  • USD 3m Sustainability Seed Fund with and Asian Development Bank to help combat climate change through technology
  • USD 1m Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition Fund with Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, Quantedge Advancement Initiative and Vitol Foundation to provide a healthy start for vulnerable babies and children
  • USD 1m STEM Fund with Lenovo Foundation, XTC Markets and BHP, to close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and ensure women and girls have greater engagement in these courses and careers.

The Conference also saw the launch of new platforms and collaborations to ensure that the recommendations made during the event lead to action that will continue to drive change:

  • The Asian Gender Network (AGN) who will work towards a more gender equitable world by mobilising capital to improve outcomes for girls and women;
  • The Asian Impact Leaders Network (AILN), launched in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, bringing together leaders from government, private sector and NGOs to provide a platform to collectively maximise their impact; and
  • The Youth Opportunities Platform which will unlock and mobilise resources towards youth promotion in Asia and give young people a seat at the table in creating the future they want to see.

In collaboration with Economist Impact, AVPN launched Advancing Impact: A Road Map for Social Investing in Asia, a report offering 10 new principles of social investment to provide direction for social investors looking to incorporate the SDG Impact Standards into their work.

One of the key learnings that emerged from the event is that social investors must give greater autonomy to investees to use funding where and how it is needed, rather than just in 'safe' projects The greatest lessons is that investors need to be more audacious and bold and need to trust the people on the ground to understand where the greatest impact can be made.

There was also a focus on mental health, with Asian nations seeing an increase in mental health issues, while stigma around mental wellness prevails in the region.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive, British Asian Trust said, "There are difficulties in measuring success of mental health initiatives. This is where philanthropists and social investors have a huge role to play where they support these developing ideas."

Neerja Birla, Chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust (ABET) said,"The big challenges that we face in our world [on mental health is] is lack of awareness: [either] you're not aware what mental health is, ...[or] you don't want to accept it, which comes from stigma and taboo."

With AVPN celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, delegates were excited to be back to face-to-face meetings after two years of virtual events and the buzz and energy at the event were palpable. To keep up the momentum from the conference, AVPN will continue to host events throughout the year, and encourage new members to join to become part of the network.

For more information on the conference:

About AVPN

AVPN is the world's largest network of Social Investors in Asia, with over 600 diverse members across 33 markets. Their mission is to increase the flow of financial, human, and intellectual capital towards closing SDG gaps in Asia. Through enabling collaborations between policy makers, family offices, foundations and the private sector; bringing to bear the field needs, knowledge, and policy environment; AVPN improves the effectiveness of capital deployed.

As organisers of the AVPN Global conference—the world's largest networking event for Social Investors in Asia—their focus is to put Asian voices at the forefront of global discourse; with the output of the convening to be added to the main agenda of the upcoming G20. The event is also leveraged by the Social Investor ecosystem to form and announce new partnerships, innovate catalytic funding vehicles, and ultimately move more capital towards impact.

Pictured: Dato' Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director & Trustee of Hasanah Foundation, giving an address at the AVPN Global Conference, about accelerating change through innovative partnership models.
Pictured: Dato' Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director & Trustee of Hasanah Foundation, giving an address at the AVPN Global Conference, about accelerating change through innovative partnership models.

Quotes from high-profile speakers at the AVPN Conference:

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister, Maritime and Investment Affairs of Indonesia - "AVPN plays a vital role in this mission by bringing together public and private sector leaders from across the world to pool capital, technical assistance and policy influence to unlock urgently needed resources in Asia."

Odo R.M Manuhutu, Deputy for Tourism and Creative Economy Coordination, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment - "Key is how to take advantage of a crisis and turn it into opportunity. We need to be open minded and build trust with the private sector and the philanthropy world to drive solutions."

Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Vice Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy - "AVPN Global Conference 2022 has encouraged a lot of discussions and collaborations that connect many stakeholders to move collectively towards fostering sustainable and inclusive growth."

Elizabeth Gillies, CEO, Menzies Foundation - "Deep collaboration involves moving out of silos. That's why uncovering new ways of working requires a deep level of trust. To be a founder in that space, you need to find all those places that are unsexy and build that foundation."

Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President, Program Strategy and Chief of Staff, the Rockefeller Foundation - "We can fail fast, fix fast and get back out there again.None of the challenges that we face today are easy. We need to turn the impossible to probable."

Wei Neng Wu, Executive Director, Chandler Institute of Governance - "All governments and nations have their unique characteristics and capabilities, but there are similarities and it is important to learn and adapt best practices from different governments."

Yibin Chu, Head of Community Investing and Development, Asia Pacific, Citi - "We need to invest in youth at an ecosystem level. Right now the work being done to support youth is in silos."

Chris Anderson, Curator, TED - Creativity. Audacity. Collaboration - "These are the three keys to infectious generosity. We ask changemakers to be really bold and audacious and ask them to think about their dream project if money were not a hurdle. Then we pool together groups of donors - 20-30 people at a time. They have 2.5 days together. We preserve these plans on videos and pick the projects they are most inspired by."

Nicola Forrest, Co-Founder, Minderoo Foundation - "Most communities have the idea that they know what their answers are. But perhaps they need those capabilities to build their capacity to help them realize their dreams. And I think that's the place for philanthropy."

Vidya Shah, Executive Chairperson, EdelGive Foundation - "We mistook mistakes as failures. ...[but] you make small mistakes and you learn along the way.................................. and that's how you become catalytic."

Veronica Colondam, Founder & CEO, YCAB Foundation - "Our commonality is that all of us work across the whole spectrum [of social investment]."

Romy Cahyadi, Chief Executive Officer, Instellar - "I told my colleagues, now that covid is clearing there will be more conferences, but if we were only to go to one conference, go to AVPN."

Anna Skarbek, Chief Executive Officer, Climateworks Centre/Monash University - "The drivers of demand will be the net zero commitments and high quality transparent credits. Now the role of philanthropists and investors is to kick start a high quality supply of carbon credits."

Harvey Koh, Senior Advisor, FSG - "We needed more flexible capital to come in, particularly at the early stage of the development of [new] models before things were proven right, to really underwrite their early development and prove them out, so more mainstream capital could come in."

Adrienne DiCasparro, Director - Donor Community, The Audacious Project, TED - "If we are failing some of the time, are we being audacious enough."

Arnav Kapur, Lead-Partnerships, India and Southeast Asia, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - "Three trends that are seen in the post pandemic times - Increase in collaboration, increase in digitisation and young entrepreneurs joining the giving bandwagon."

Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO, Acumen - "We need to use our capital and move it to where it's most needed and not just to where it's safest."

Dato' Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Trustee and Managing Director, Yayasan Hasanah - "What is most significant is the value that we bring to the recipients in any partnership and collaboration. We should let go of egos and logos."

Geraldine Chin, Head, Impact Networks, Singapore International Foundation: - "There is a huge amount of potential in young people in Singapore. Harnessing this potential is what we need to do in order to drive change across different areas, from climate change to culture."

Source: AVPN