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Mon, May

Issue 47 | Asia’s Social Innovations, Social Enterprises, and Public-Private Partnerships

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"Private donors -- many of whom have gained unprecedented personal wealth in recent years -- dread the endless cycle of fundraising pitches. While they might aspire to do world-changing work through their philanthropy, there isn’t a ready market for breakthrough ideas that they can tap into. So, it’s no surprise that many with the means and the heart to give big end up doing less than they dream of doing. And it’s why some of the world’s best-positioned change-makers, both doers and funders, feel forced to give up on their biggest dreams, and the possibility of creating truly audacious change is left underexplored." 

The Audacious Project

Dear Reader,

Across the globe there has been a rapid rise in the number of social sector innovators and entrepreneurs who want to find innovative ways to solve, or move the needle on, society’s problems. They are increasingly deploying the methods of business and private capital, if that helps them to do so. However, “despite the growing interest and commitment by stakeholders, there exists a gap between funders and Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs)...the common feedback is a struggle by funders to identify the right SPOs.”1

In Asia, “while governments have a vital role to play, it is increasingly the private sector that is stepping up to tackle the challenges of inequality and poverty.” To address these challenges, AVPN is leading a regional strategy by convening a diverse group of social investors and providing them with a platform to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Deal Share Platform reinforces AVPN’s work to increase the flow of financial, intellectual, and human capital towards greater social impact in the sector. We find this strategy confirmed by other international markets that are creating spaces of encounter for academia, government, the private sector, and civil society dialogue to enable collaboration and the development of new cross organizational investment models. Internationally, we see the need for new spaces led by social enterprises that seek a community of practice with their peers to share sector-based knowledge concerning evaluation, finances, funding, and sponsors; hiring and diversity; and mentorship from those enterprises that have achieved scale and offer transparent spaces to share their models with interested investors. 

In addition, actors in the Social Innovation and Enterprise industry are concluding that social innovation and social enterprise, while achieving better social impact goals, need to engage in the world of public policy and systems change. Although social innovation and enterprise are sparking change, large-scale change often can only be achieved through national, state, and local policy changes that embrace innovation and new social sector models. Social Enterprises need to be Social Capital Agents as they are motivated by social good and are there for the long-term. They foster, formulate, perform, and evaluate society’s policies that are in the furtherance of public good. 

The current status is evident, and though difficult, a path forward has been laid out. By creating spaces of encounter for academia, state, the private sector, and civil society the next steps towards more sustainable and innovative models and necessary policy change are crystal clear.

We hope you read the articles (highlighted below) in this publication to gain a sense of the promise and future of Asia’s evolving Social Sector.


Nicholas Torres 
Tine Hansen-Turton


Kevin Teo
Managing Director of Knowledge Center

1 Teo, Joy (2018). AVPN Deal Share, Bridging Social Investments.  Social Innovations Journal

Article SummariesThe Ecosystem of Asia in 2018


Deal Share -- Bridging Social Investments
By: Joy Teo, Senior Deal Share Associate, AVPN


Despite the growing interest in social investments in Asia, there exists a resource disconnect between funders and Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs). To this end, AVPN was established to foster multi-sector collaborations for social investments in Asia through convening engagements, including the Deal Share and our annual AVPN conference. Through these engagements, it is evident that there is immense potential for different types of resource providers and SPOs to work closely together to deliver social impact. While governments have a vital role to play, it is increasingly the private sector that is stepping up to tackle the challenges of income inequality and poverty. In this article, we explore how resource providers are building multi sector collaborations with SPOs, and the role that AVPN plays in fostering these partnerships.


The Tata Mumbai Marathon -- India’s Biggest Social Impact Fundraising Platform
By: George J Aikara, Chief Operating Officer, United Way Mumbai

The Mumbai Marathon (TMM) is India’s biggest philanthropy platform. Over the years, through a carefully managed charity structure, the event has been built as an enabler for hundreds of nonprofits to build relationships and raise funds for their causes. During its 15-year history, the TMM has raised above 230 Crores (USD 35.4 million) for 564 nonprofits. Annually, the event raises above Rs 34 Crores (USD 5.28 million) and with a 4.3 percent fundraising cost, it is the most effective and efficient fundraising platform for NGOs. As the event’s philanthropic partner, United Way Mumbai has three objectives for participating non-profits: 1.) Help the non-profits raise funds from the event in an impartial, fair, and cause neutral manner; 2.) Build the capacities of the non-profits through processes, training, sharing practices, and continuous support.; and 3.) Increase visibility of the causes and facilitate the building of relationships between donors and the non-profit. This article provides insight on how the TMM event has evolved into a win-win platform and a key enabler of relationships between non-profits and potential donors, fundraisers, and corporate supporters.


The OneSky Factory Model
By: Diana Chiu, Director of Development, Asia at OneSky

The OneSky Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang, Vietnam is the first of its kind -- a demonstration center for best practices in early childhood care and education (ECCE) for the children of factory workers. Built in collaboration with Vietnam’s Department of Education and Training, the ELC serves as a hub for a multi-pronged model designed to provide early childhood care and education, as well as home-based daycare provider training, parenting classes, and online learning opportunities. ELC is helping care and educate more than 10,000 children under the age of seven whose parents labor in the Hoa Khanh Industrial Zone's factories. In this article, the key factors that have contributed to the successful launch of OneSky for all children's Factory Model are examined.


An Innovative Approach to an Ancient Problem
By: Samuel Glatman, Founder, Ko Shwe Ventures Pte. Ltd.

There are more than 600 million betel chewers across Asia. Most betel chewers are low-income and spend a significant proportion of their household income on betel quid (7.5-10 percent on average). Chewing betel causes a wide-range of serious oral health issues, from severe staining and sensitivity, to chronic inflammation, to a pre-malignant inflammatory disease called Oral Sub Mucous Fibrosis, and even oral cancer. Ko Shwe Ventures has developed the world’s first affordable oral health care products specifically targeted towards betel chewer health issues. In Myanmar there are more than 150,000 betel shops that rely almost entirely on the sale of betel, and Ko Shwe Ventures is using its products to improve the incomes of betel sellers, by supporting diversification away from total reliance on betel sales. To date. Ko Shwe has built a network of more than 6,000 retailers that reach more than one million betel chewers per day.


Diagnostic Testing for the Poor: The Story of Biosense
By: Bradley Kopsick, Myanmar Country Manager, Insitor Management

In India, rural populations face difficulties in obtaining accurate and affordable healthcare. Simple diagnostic testing can be difficult to obtain, with patients needing to travel long distances and spending significant resources to attain help. Biosense, a company founded in India, provides increased access, convenience, and affordable diagnostic solutions through low-cost and low-resource, point-of-care diagnostic tools. In order to more accurately diagnose and combat anemia, Biosense developed a pioneering product, the ToucHb. The ToucHb is a non-invasive test for anemia that measures hemoglobin levels in mothers and children living in low-resource areas without the use of a needle. Biosense has also developed several other core product offerings, including uChek, a routine urinalysis and microalbuminuria device; and SYNC, a diabetes-screening device that enables self-monitoring of blood glucose levels. Biosense uses these products, as well as key relationships with prominent health institutions, to have a large impact on the delivery of affordable healthcare screening for low-income patients.


Invest for Wellness (i4We) -- Unlocking Primary Healthcare Value
Shiv Kumar, Founder, Swasti Health Catalyst, Co-Founder, Catalyst Group.

Invest for Wellness (i4We), incubated by the Catalyst Group, is a self-funded, primary health care innovation, which combines health and wealth interventions, and focuses on wellness for the poor in an affordable, quality assured, and scalable way. The program ensures local primary care for members, navigates them through a range of existing secondary and tertiary providers (where required), and uses a blended financing model. This article explores the i4We model that combines medical, behavioral, and social science with an appropriate mix of technology and health financing. i4We is currently delivered in four settings including urban, rural, factories, and sex workers’ collectives. With five revenue streams, comprised of interest spread on inter-lending among members, the sale of health products, fees for citizenry services, and the sale of insurance and direct sponsorship of ultra-poor families’ health. These along with a start-up capital grant ramp of three to five years enables i4We to break even and be self-sufficient.


Impact Intervention: A New Approach for Victoria’s Support of Resource Recovery
By: Christopher Lane, Investment Lead, Sustainability Victoria

Government intervention is traditionally associated with grants funding to support plant equipment and other infrastructure upgrades. In the State of Victoria, the government's environmental program delivery agency, Sustainability Victoria, is implementing new models of intervention to support the development of the resource recovery sector and minimize diversion to landfills and maximize resource recovery. These new approaches involve both “soft” actions, facilitation and support services, and "hard" actions, financial support. Combined, these new efforts are working specifically to support the early-stage, feasibility component of the project pipeline, readying projects for the investment community to engage and apply skills to help realize needed investments in resource recovery. India’s First Funding Platform for Teachers
By: Sneha Menon: Director of Growth, Teach A Class Foundation

Teach A Class Foundation is India’s first funding platform for teachers, which aims to harness the enthusiasm of motivated teachers to improve learning outcomes in school. We created a platform where teachers from low-income schools across India can access high-quality tools and resources for their classrooms by applying for funding online. Teach A Class Foundation is currently on a mission to connect 50,000 teachers and 50 million students to donors, enabling teachers to inspire their students, keep them engaged during class, and help them stay in school.


Scalable Solutions for Clean Water Access in Cambodia
By: Karen Moik, Analyst, Insitor Management

In rural regions of Cambodia, the majority of households lack access to clean and safe water sources. The use of untreated water puts families at serious risk of contracting dangerous waterborne diseases. Khmer Water Supply Holding (KWSH) works to address this issue by providing clean drinking water directly to households in-need throughout rural and semi-rural regions of Cambodia in a scalable and efficient manner. The company operates a consolidated portfolio of small-scale piped water systems (PWS), which are micro-networks that cover the entire water value chain from source to consumer households. Each individual network consists of a filtration system, ground well and water tower for storage, and underground piping that connects to end user households. The service arrives at a lower cost to consumers than alternative water sources, with significant convenience and improved status. KWSH’s consolidated business model allows the company to implement high operational standards across its PWS, leverage commercial debt, and scale each PWS to reach more households.


Fight Against Malnutrition: The Need to Look Beyond Feeding Children
By: Anil Parmar, Director, Community Investment, United Way Mumbai

The burden of malnutrition in India is increasing and currently accounts for 39 percent of the world's 146 million malnourished children. United Way Mumbai’s (UWM) fight against malnutrition endeavors to empower family members and caregivers to stop the cycle of malnutrition through a community-centric approach. Leveraging existing community infrastructure and resources by partnering with government is a critical step in this direction. UWM’s program ensures that nutrition supplements are acceptable, accessible, and affordable for the community. Through home based interventions and counseling, parent capacity is built to provide an enabling environment for undernourished children. Cultural context and community platforms are used to provide key messages on nutrition, maternal and child care, health, and hygiene. Moreover, emphasis is placed on building community support to enable the practice of related behavioral changes that complement these messages. UWM works to ensure its impact is sustained by working with frontline health workers to continue service delivery. All of these interventions are undertaken in an integrated manner to create an enabling environment for the overall development of undernourished children, and not to simply feed these children which would only address one aspect of this complex issue.


Growing Prosperity of Smallholder Farmers in India
3Fold Model -- Wealthy, Resilient, and Responsible Farmers
By: N Raghunathan

When we talk of creating and sustaining millions of jobs in India, the potential of agriculture as a sector and smallholder farmers as a key constituency cannot be ignored. About 100 million smallholder farmers employ themselves in their farms, and provide employment to their own family members and other individuals. Yet, most are still poor. Smallholder agriculture in its current form is unviable; factors that limit them are nearly countless in number and variety. With marginal landholding combined with poor soil quality, depleting water tables, and limited access to many inputs and services, it is difficult for small farmers to climb out of poverty with their existing portfolio. Entry into new commodities is fraught with production risk, market risk, and challenges around accessibility/cost of capital. The solutions that exist are in silos, including many of the large-scale government programs. The fragmented ecosystem is limiting the scale and sustenance of the support to smallholders. 3Fold is working to change this dynamic by building wealthy, resilient, and responsible farmers -- by helping to make them successful entrepreneurs and sustained job creators thereby increasing their income threefold. 3Fold focuses on entrepreneurship orientation to enable the potential of these farmers, and to encourage impact. They address key gaps affecting farmers including the lack of integrated services (end-to-end), the need for diversified options (value add to farm and off-farm), augmentation of “integrators/activators at field level” and “technology,” and the establishment of a sustainable ecosystem at a cluster level that enables collaborative actions for collective impact.


Show Me the Money? Not Necessarily: Lessons Learned from Building an Innovation Practice at a Global Nonprofit
By: Michelle Risinger, Director of Innovation, Pact

When Pact, a global nonprofit founded in 1971 and based in Washington, D.C., first invested in innovation in the fall of 2013, they looked to determine whether they could institute a dedicated innovation team to source and win unrestricted funding for concepts from across Pact’s country and project staff. The nuanced and complex nonprofit system required a thoughtful, systems-level approach to achieve these efforts. With critical local staff already prioritized to projects and without local-level organic, enabling environments for testing and experimentation, success for innovation at Pact was a journey. This article explores how Pacts’ success went beyond dollars and awards, and was focused on targeting and transforming its culture and processes.


Why Lean Start-up Methodology May Not Apply to Social Enterprises
By: Oon Tian Sern, Queen Young Leader 2018, Founder of Acceset

This article will explore the experience of Acceset’s founder in building this social enterprise and examine the relevance of the lean start-up methodology in relation to the challenges of developing the company. Acceset aims to build bridges to help individuals suffering from mental health concerns accept care by empowering them with technology and support services to reset their own lives and assist others who have similar experiences. 


Selfies4School -- Building Youth Engagement on the Issue of Early Marriage in India
By: Yogita Verma

#Selfies4School is an innovative collaboration with Vodafone India, Breakthrough that launched a massive digital campaign, using the popular mobile phone trend of taking selfies, to engage people in a dialogue on early marriage and school dropout among Indian girls. People were invited to send in their own selfies to show solidarity with the campaign -- to keep girls in school. Vodafone promised to send 10 girls to school for every selfie received through a monetary contribution. The campaign was a resounding success, raising $542,555 USD that ensured 58,000 girls would remain in school and not drop out. The campaign received extensive media coverage, as well as live and online events, enabling #Selfies4School to meet its objective of bringing the issue of early marriage into mainstream public discourse.


A Different Approach for Maternal Health Through Telehealth & Ecosystem
By: Anda Waluyo, Sapardan from Sehati & TeleCTG

This initiative stemmed from a strong desire to participate in improving the quality of Indonesia’s human resources. High-quality human resources play an important role in ensuring a nation’s sovereignty. Currently, Indonesia’s Human Development Index (HDI) is low, we rank 113 out of 188 countries. Of a population of 262 million, about 140 million people live on an income of IDR 20.000 ($1.50 USD) per day, while 19.4 million people suffer from malnutrition (UNDP 2015: Human Development Report). With the knowledge and experience of more than 12 years in maternal and women’s healthcare, we contribute and participate in empowerment through the first 1,000 days of life. We map out the ecosystem to facilitate wider promotion of preventive healthcare service delivery through information, education, and empowering individuals with technology. We collaborate with regulators and doctors (specialists) for the command center and to develop the mothers and midwifery communities powered by the Ibu Sehati and Bidan Sehati Application. In addition, we utilize the telemedicine-based medical device, TeleCTG, to assist in diagnosing fetal wellbeing and distress, all under one database platform for better Antenatal Care and labor management tracking and monitoring.