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P1 AVPN Notes Panel 1 Social Investing in Asia What Has Worked

P1 AVPN Notes Panel 1 Social Investing in Asia What Has Worked

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P1 AVPN Notes Panel 1 Social Investing in Asia What Has Worked
P1 AVPN Notes Panel 1 Social Investing in Asia What Has Worked

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Published by: asianvp on May 26, 2014
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04/08/2015

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Interactive Panel 1: Social Investing in Asia, what has worked? Wednesday 14
 
May 9:30am Session reporter: Victor Kuo Summary of the content of the session:
Lien Centre for Social Innovation (Crystal Hayling)
 
Barrios Unidos were ex-cons working with young gang leaders. We reached out to gang members and changed their lives by creating a silk-screening business. They made money but also trained ex-cons on how to hold a job. Became a cornerstone organizations in that community to address poverty. That was a moment where I joined people about social change. Start with why you are here and what you are doing.
RS Group (Annie Chen)
 
We do impact investing but also field-building. We were in Hong Kong and seeing how we could add-value by helping build the marketplace. Systems change is also where we are at in our thinking. We have supported intermediaries and platforms to help create a community of actors to have shared platforms to interact, knowledge sharing. To give the whole field some visibility. Partnered with Social Ventures HK, an annual summit, create the GoodLab to help entrepreneurs interact. Hard to say if there is a direct line between our support but
happy to see that there’s a sense of community.
 
We support specific project, SHK. We co-invest in a social enterprise to provide decent living quarters for a vulnerable group-single mothers with young children. Some of these women have lost their husbands or divorced and with small children. They live in flats, 10 times
worse than what I’ve seen. Idea is to tap into owners of property willing to lease flats out to
needy families at less than market rate.
Ford Foundation (Kavita Ramdas)
 
My story starts as an Indian woman married to a Pakistani. 1999, I worked for the Global Fund for Women. I made a site visit to an organization, educating girls in underground schools in Pakistan. I was blown away. This was country-wide, girls pulled out of school by Taliban. We arrived in Peshawar, and went to the Afghan Institute for Learning. They all knew about it, and escorted us to the building. Here the kids were playing with left-over soviet cigarette boxes with sand as building blocks. We made an initial 15,000 grant. Today the Afghan Institute for Learning reaches over 500,000 children in Afghanistan. It has moved from an underground school with women taking risks to teach to becoming one of the best
 
 allies to the government. It starts with the heart and then having the foresight to start with something that would result in systems change.
 Acumen Fund (Sadeesh Raghavan)
 
My story is also about women! Maternal care in India. Hindustan Healthcare. What can we do collectively to address this problem in this space? The answer was to invest in the problem and help them grow. But we thought to do something different. What we decided was to look at maternal care. In India, mothers
 –
 infant mortality rates are abysmal. We wanted to focus on the informal workforce, which is actually 80% of the workforce, and the urban centers. In those areas, there was typically home-births, but we were seeing an
increase in institutional birth…but nursing homes or government buildings were charging
exorbitant prices and low quality, low or no transparency. So we wanted to establish hospitals to serve these women. Challenge was to do it at scale and at 50-80 percent lower.
Today we have 20 hospitals and are pricing well. It’s working well and has shown that public
private partnerships can work. They intend to build up to 200 hospitals like this.
 
How did you know an organization had the capacity to grow? You don’t know what scales
until you make those investments? What were the indicators along the way? What to invest and how? [Kavita] Truth is I had no idea. But I was inspired by Sakina. So many people said Afghanistan is hopeless.
At the end of the day, good philanthropy is about people.
 These are people who refuse to say no for an answer. She was running these schools at risk of life, without money. So she clearly is passionate enough. The other thing, we made a $5,000
grant, but how she used it! (No banking system, pre 9/11, pre American invasion…nothing
going on). She had a system going on to transfer money, buy school materials, across the border. We watched how they used resources. We connected them to others. Since they used it well, we introduced to JP Morgan, Global Fund for Women. Sakina told her story in a
simple way, and people had a sense, if you give you her money great but if you didn’t, she
would find a way anyway. Also, the
Afghan Institute for Learning’s thinking. They never
wanted to be a substitute for the state, just to meet the need at time.
But when the government was ready, they pivoted and knew that to get to scale, they needed to engage the government. Adaptability and flexibility.
 
You mentioned infrastructure and capacity building. What are the key pieces? You want to
be able to tell an empathetic story…capacity building is not “so sexy.” How did you come to
the place of seeing the ecosystem? [Annie] I think I wil
l refer to Doug’
s opening about urgency. I saw it as how to do philanthropy more effectively and how to use my resources. In
HK there was very little. Some pockets of activity, some individuals with passion. It’s lonely
work.
You do need a profession to make things happen, to help create change, to make
services available at scale, so it’s not that lone entrepreneur.
 We did a lot of exploration elsewhere and saw the sense of possibility. Some other countries are ahead. Take a longer
 
 view. You need the entrepreneurs, some to see the landscape and picture, to see the dots and momentum.
 
People are saying Asia will take off, but some say there is already a lot of opportunity now. What do you see as the future of SE, social investing, smart philanthropy? [Sadeesh] Why I said what I said is that I invest in regular technology, but when you invest in the underserved,
you see the opportunity to see how today’s technology can fill the gaps. We just invested in
a company to give voice to the underserved. The possibility of such an organization, 10 years ago, the technology was not there; today it is. Now you can use 2G phones to watch video. The vast majority of people only use 2G phones, but how can you deprive them to watch
something? There’s power in that. On one
hand, progress on the high-end of society gives us access to technology, but we can also deploy it into this place. Also, the younger generation are keen to work in this space. I used to work for Accenture, people hired only wanted to work in the best org
anizations. It wasn’t on their minds for anything less. Today, it’s turned
around and amazing. People with that energy coming in, things will change.
 
You guys represent different approaches. We heard that philanthropy is dead. We need private investment. Triple bottom line because old investing is dead. Are you working in your own sectors? Working with these other approaches as well? Are we perfecting our own siloes? [Kavita] At Ford, in New Delhi, I feel our investments are straddling sectors. We have two investments in for-profits. Traditionally, we worked with CBOs, NGOs. But in agricultural, we are investing in a private company to purchase pesticide free, organic produce. We have invested in a different sector, in part because, there are young people. This company was started by 2 IT graduates and had a dream, to make a different world. Similarly, India has had scandals for internet penetration. Onl
y 2% have access to internet. So we’ve invested in
private companies to provide internet to the rural areas.
Questions from the Audience:
 
[Sandy Dang, from DC] I started a non-profit 20 years ago. I was a refugee. My questions is how can we build a way,
wanting to change the system, but they don’t have a chance to tell
their ideas. How can we surface those ideas, those young people to help accomplish their ideas?
 
[Jeremy from Conjunct Consulting, give services to nonprofits in Asia.] We are looking to develop research on how to scale in Asia. What would be the Asia specific toolkits to help investments in the sector? [Annie]
I don’t think we’re lacking in toolkits, but people being
more open minded to what they can do.
 Referring to earlier conversation, nothing is dead, but need to use tools, capital you have with an impact orientation, not just a financial performance or only social impact. So being fluid, flexible to use capital in creative ways.

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