PRI-NUS Asia-Pacific Forum: Investing for sustainable and long-term returns in the Asia-Pacific Region

ACSEP in Partnership with Principles of Responsible Investment, Institute of Real Estate (IRES), and CFA jointly organised the forum at the NUSS Guild house on 20 November 2013. The event was a success with an engaged and enthusiastic audience of more than 60 participants. The presenters and participants also enjoyed the sharing and networking over dinner hosted by ACSEP and IRES.

Charity Governance Awards 2013

An initiative of the Charity Council, the Charity Governance Awards (CGA) 2013 was organised in
partnership with the National University of Singapore’s Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and
Philanthropy (ACSEP).

The CGA honours charities that have adopted the highest standards of governance. The Singapore Red Cross and the Young Men’s Christian Association of Singapore (YMCA) were conferred the top honours at this year’s Awards held on 18 Oct 2013 at the Novotel Clarke Quay.

Special Commendation Awards were also given out to charities for excellence in particular areas of
governance. This is the first year that the Charity Council gave out such awards. The Association of
Muslim Professionals (AMP) emerged as the Special Commendation Award winner for Board
Recruitment and Renewal, while the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) won the Special Commendation Award for Corporate Governance Policies and Strong Management.

The event, which brought together approximately 140 guests from 70 organizations, was graced by
Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr. Lawrence Wong.

ACSEP is a partner of the Charity Governance Award since the inaugural year in 2012. The assessment process and criteria was developed by ACSEP. ACSEP also facilitated the judging process and produced a feedback report for the charities. More information is available at

Funders Roundtable Series

ACSEP together with NVPC jointly organized the 3rd Funders Roundtable (FRT) on “Impact Assessment: Building Informed and Collaborative Partnerships” on 3 September 2013. The session focused on the role of information in grant-making. It explored the use of information to create sustainable and effective giving partnerships, and how the process of gathering and sharing information can create a common language that brings greater collaboration and impact.

We were privileged to have Professor Paul Brest, a leading scholar and teacher of constitutional law to lead the session. Professor Brest shared, with a group of 36 comprising senior management from foundations and government agencies, on the theory of change and performance metrics for the organisation using two case studies. Participants also shared their practices and experiences with grantees.

Launch of Results of Corporate Perception Survey on Social Enteprises 2013 (Partner’s Event)

Organised by Social Enterprise Association. The survey was commissioned by the Association to investigate the awareness and engagement of large corporations and small-medium enterprise with social enterprises in Singapore. The survey was conducted by final year NUS Business School, guided by Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP). For a summary of the event, please click here.  To view presentation slides please click here.

ACSEP: Student Presentations

On 17th May 2013, students from the NUS Business School and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy presented the highlights of their consulting assignments with socially-driven organizations (SDOs) in Singapore; as part of their field service projects (FSP). The FSPs were guided by ACSEP Faculty and research team. Participating Organisations: Singapore Association or Mental Health, Society for the Physically Disabled, Singapore Red Cross, Tsao Foundation, World Toilet Organisation. Presentation summary available here.

Feedback received post event:

“I have enjoyed my time with the students.  They are so  enthusiastic and I have learnt so much from them.  Looking forward to developing a long term partnership.”

– Ms Cecilia Tan, Deputy Secretary General, Operations, Singapore Red Cross Society

“SPD is privileged to have a group of NUS’ best students work on a solution to a branding concern.  We are certainly impressed by the excellence and quality of work they have produced.  In tackling the issue, the students worked independently and aptly dissected the problem, throwing light on and giving insight to areas that we, in focusing on daily operations, do not have much chance to study deeper into.  The recommended solutions are sound, demonstrating maturity of thought in the students.  We highly recommend that organisations engage the students under the ACSEP Field Service Project.  It is an initiative that both helps to solve actual concerns, while giving the students an opportunity to try and solve a real and present issue.”

– Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, Society for the Physically Disabled

AVPN Annual Conference 2013

The inaugural Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) Annual Conference 2013 (9 May 2013 – 10 May 201) will be the first and largest gathering of venture philanthropists and social investors in the region. Participation in the conference will be limited and priority will be given to active providers of financial and non-financial resources to high performing social purpose organisations in Asia. The conference will seek to share learning and both broaden and deepen the venture philanthropy and social investment community across Asia. Click here for more details.

Registration Closed

ACSEP Scientific Program sessions at World Health Summit

ACSEP Scientific Program was held on 9 April 2013. Prof Audrey Chia chaired two sessions namely Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Health Delivery and Innovative Philanthropy in Health. The Panelists for the first session were: Mr Antonio Meloto, Founder, Gawad Kalinga, Prof Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organisation, and Mr Amit Jain, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Global Healthpoints. For the second session, Ms Karen Mok (Roll Back Malaria Champion) gave the opening remark on personal philanthropy. The panelists were: Mr David Zuellig, Board of Trustees, Zuellig Family Foundation, Dr Klaus Leisinger, Chairman, Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, and Mr John Forsyth, Managing Director, Viva Healthcare, Richard Chandler Corporation.

Born of heart, bred of mind

Source: Business Times, 8 March 2013
By: Wee Le Ting

Social entrepreneurs mostly male, but female presence should not be discounted.

It is probably no surprise that the gender representation in the entrepreneurship
landscape is skewed towards men, but the gender imbalance is even worse in the
social enterprise sector, where empathy is supposed to rule over profitability.

According to a recent research report from Barclays Wealth & Investment

Management, only 39 per cent of employed high net worth females in Asia are
businesses owners or entrepreneurs – a stark contrast to half of the men who are.
In the social entrepreneurship scene in Singapore, the figures are even more dismal:
out of 258 social enterprises, 21 per cent are run by women entrepreneurs, says
the Social Enterprise (SE) Association.

This imbalance in gender ratio, especially in social entrepreneurship, is attributed
by some to the juggling game that women are still more caught up in as opposed to

“Generally, women’s multi(ple) roles take their toll on them when it comes to both
career and starting a business. More can be done in this area to support us in our
passion,” says Teo Mee Hong, executive director of the SE Association.

However, these figures do not necessarily imply a weak female presence in the
social entrepreneurship circle. Says Associate Professor Audrey Chia, co-director of
National University of Singapore Asia Centre for Social Enterprise & Philanthropy: “I
think we have to look beyond just numbers and scale.If you look at, say, the top social entrepreneurs who have been recognised and awarded -for example, by Schwab Foundation or by Ashoka – you will see there are more men than women. 

(However), each social entrepreneur is free to choose the cause and communities
to be helped. Women may choose not to go for scale but for deep impact on certain

Indeed, the empathy in women is often what drives them to become social
entrepreneurs. Says Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, a sociologist at NUS:
“Generally, on all accounts, women tend to appeal more to their emotions
(compared with men) because of socialisation, and because of how parents expect
girls to be more sensitive in behaviour since childhood. In adulthood, this translates
into them becoming more attuned to social concerns, and thus, this places females
in good stead for social entrepreneurship.”

In terms of challenges, it is generally agreed that both male and female social
entrepreneurs face largely similar ones.

As Associate Professor Albert Teo, director of the NUS Chua Thian Poh Community
Leadership Programme, puts it: “Social entrepreneurs and social enterprise
managers (whether male or female) must constantly grapple with meeting both the
financial bottom line and the social bottom line – that is, they need to constantly
check that they are indeed running their respective social enterprises with both a
capitalist mind and a socialist heart; these contradicting objectives are often not
easy to reconcile. By contrast, their counterparts in the for-profit, business sector
(whether male or female) need only to focus on the financial bottom line.”
In terms of industries, however, there seems to be a difference. “Very often, in a
business, we say that the team needs a woman’s touch. This is true especially in
the areas of services,” says SE Association’s Ms Teo, who cites examples such as
teaching and consultancy.

Although Prof Teo does not detect any significant patterns in terms of the specific
industries chosen by the two genders, he spots differences in the workers employed.
“Males are more likely to run social enterprises that employ ex-offenders, while
females are more likely to run social enterprises that employ economically
disadvantaged women.”

On the issue of a glass ceiling for women social entrepreneurs, Prof Teo thinks it is
not a problem. “Social entrepreneurs and social enterprise managers are currently
quite a rare breed in Singapore. At present, not many are motivated to set up
and/or run social enterprises, which address various social problems either in
Singapore or other South-east Asian countries. When such individuals (whether
women or men) do step forward, most of us look up to them with awe and respect.

We are not likely to diminish the status and standing of female social entrepreneurs
and/or social enterprise managers, vis-à-vis their male counterparts.”

But is either sex likely to be the more successful social entrepreneur? Prof Teo
thinks that neither males nor females are more likely to simultaneously possess
task orientation (that is, managing organisational tasks effectively and efficiently)
and people orientation, in terms of looking after the social needs of the
communities they work with.

And how does one judge the success of a social enterprise? “It’s not just about
money or scale; it’s about impact on the community or the cause,” says Prof Chia.

Philanthropy Seminar: Innovation or Imitation. Does it matter?

Date/Time: 8 May 2013, 11am to 1245pm.(registration at 1030am)
Lunch: 1245pm to 130pm.
Venue: NUS Business School, Mochtar Riady Building, #04-2

On 8 May 2013, ACSEP launched ‘Innovation in Asian Philanthropy’, a major new study that draws on 26 case studies from 10 Asian countries to illustrate the diversity of innovation in Asian philanthropy today. The following panel of philanthropists and impact investors will share their experiences of innovation in entrepreneurial philanthropy, strategic philanthropy and the philanthropy ecosystem:

Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foundation, Singapore
Ms Vidya Shah, CEO, EdelGive Foundation, India
Mr Tao Ze, Vice President, China Foundation Center,Beijing
Moderated by author and ACSEP Visiting Senior Fellow, Dr Rob John. Articles related to this new working paper were also published in Alliance Magazine and Salt On-line.

Presentation Slides

Charity Begins at Home

Source: Channel 5, 20 February 2013 / Channel News Asia, 23 February 2013

“On the Red Dot” current affairs programme on 20th and 23rd February respectively. Featured interview with Dr Rob John on the topic of “Charitable giving in Singapore”. Other experts featured include Mr Laurence Lien, CEO of NVPC and Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General of Singapore Red Cross.  (Select ‘On the Red Dot’, Episode 17)