Interactive Panel 4: Families in Philanthropy

Wednesday 15
May, 1700-1800
Session reporter: Marina Tan Harper

Summary of the content of the session:
Four families shared how they inherited wealth from their families, and their insights, values and
purpose in philanthropy. Today, their current generation are more informed of the social sector and
embrace innovative and impactful forms of philanthropy.

Objectives of the session: Caroline Seow, Moderator (FBN, Singapore) Sharing by four families with
legacies continuing across generations and roots tied to communities. Through generations, their
families have traditionally been active in the charity and social service space.

Bhairavi Jani (SGA Group of Companies, India)
Ravi is a fourth generation entrepreneur and a Director at SCA Group of Companies founded in 1896
by her great-grandfather. The SCA Group offers unique and world-class services in the field of
supply chain and logistics. Ravi is the first female to join the company. She constantly reminds the
family of the multiplier effect of a single business decision – impacting employees, vendors,
families/relatives, and communities at large. By her grandfather’s mandate, 10% of earnings of the
company must go to philanthropy, while the 32,000 employees also has their own CSR. They have
separated the family philanthropy and the company’s CSR which is in line with the business.

Personally, she feels it is important to make philanthropy more entrepreneurial, “…I just spent 51
days on the road to go down on the ground to learn about the projects and see how to innovate),
and entrepreneurship more philanthropic, “… when we had to acquire land (in India 80% of land is
agrarian), your must understand that all the poor have is their land and there is emotional
attachment that is passed down from generation to generation”. Instead, she has taught them how
to set up companies, accounting, set up shop and increase their income over 1000%, for them to be
willing to give up their land. Today, they have together formed 15 companies in 200 villages. “We
acquired the land and taught them how to fish for themselves.”

Kyungsun Chung (Root Impact, Korea)
Root Impact is a non-profit organization focusing on building capacity of social innovation sector in
Korea, persuading various stake-holder among different sector to actively participate, and lead
collaborative efforts for public good. Root Impact helped launch Ashoka Korea, the leading
organization of changemakers.

His grandfather started the family business (Hyundai – in construction, motor, shipbuilding,
insurance, road, rail, department store). He wanted to help the country and its people to prosper.
Wanting to give back, the Foundation 34 years ago, provided medical care to rural and today has
become a hospital. His grandfather is a big influence on Kyungsun, and sometimes he feels the
pressure just looking at what his grandfather has built and made possible. The 2
generation just
took care of what grandfather built. In Korea, 50% of economy is determined by just few
conglomerate families like: Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. Suicidal rate in education is high, and stress
from expectations of society is high. That’s why Kyungsun started Root Impact, his very own NPO.
Kyungsun’s personal plan for a development of a plot of land that is underused for: Community
Housing and Sustainable Development.

Victoria Hornby (The Royal Foundation, UK)
With 37 generations of the Royal Family, Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry are a new
generation wanting to do something their own way. They created The Royal Foundation to invest in
things they are passionate about: a) veterans and military families, b) conservation and sustainable
development (global), c) disadvantaged children and young people in UK. Impact is important to
them – it is not enough to just give. There must be measurable impact, partnerships.

Because of their “famous” names, they have a special ability to convene and get organizations and
people to come of their silos to work together, e.g. the Wildlife community for singular global
messages on legal wildlife trade; single campaign for global conservation. The world’s key
organizations were invited to meet up. They have also reached out to engage the younger

Keith Chua (Alby Group; ABR Holdings, Singapore)
Keith has inherited genes and money passed on from generations. His grandmother, Mrs Lee Choon
Guan whom he became very close in her last 10 years left him to oversee the Mrs Lee Choon Guan
Charitable Trust. On his grandmother’s side of the family, the family tree traces back to Singapore’s
earliest philanthropist, social entrepreneur and businessman, Tan Tock Seng – whom Keith inherited
the philanthropic genes.

100 years ago, his grandmother had already formed a Giving Circle of ladies and donated money to
help with infant mortality rates, funded the immigrant community, training for midwives and
improved health standards. Said Keith, “Now 100 years later, I am doing the same but in Cambodia:
lowering infant mortality rates, education for girls and more. All these have shaped my own
philanthropy, my own spiritual convictions – love, compassion, generosity”.

In 2006, Keith was asked to speak at an NUS commencement; the Dean asked if he was interested in
doing something philanthropic. Says Keith, “I feel there was little support for social entrepreneurs
while they did so much good to bring solutions for civil society.” That was how a Centre was set up
for this purpose – now evolved into the NUS Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and
Philanthropy (ACSEP).
Major conclusions of the session:
Question from the audience: In Taiwan, we also have to help SMEs and Social Entrepreneurs to do
something. Perhaps we could also use the plan shared by Kyungsun Chung, to work with local
Taiwanese entrepreneurs.
Kyungsun Chung:
Most flattered and glad that you would bring this idea back to share with Taiwanese entrepreneurs

Question from the audience: You have your own foundations, how helpful is it to you to attend
conferences like this one?
We are always in the spotlight – like a fish in an aquarium - most of the time due to our families’
legacies and wealth. We learn so much at conferences such as these.


It is not always easy for families with inherited wealth to find their “voice” in philanthropy, but these
four families on the panel have in their own ways found their niche that allows them to make a
difference with impact and personal fulfillment.

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