An examination of local philanthropy

lifestyle June 13, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

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While there is much talk of the shrinking of civic space in Southeast Asia, public discussion rarely touches on how this also affects the availability of funding for civil society organisations, in particular those that advocate for human rights.



Last February, SEA Junction launched a series of events and publications focusing on the funding challenges experienced by civil society in the region, with support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). This initiative named “Wielding the funding strings of civil society in Southeast Asia” was born out of an article with the same title written by SEA Junction’s director, Rosalia Sciortino, for New Mandala.

In the first event of the series, the issues at stake were introduced from the perspective of NGO activists, who spoke about the challenges they encounter in finding funding for their organisations and what could be alternative ways of finding much needed resources. In the second event, the focus was on the same issues, but as experienced by fund raisers, those who try to help find funding for civil society through various means, as resource mobilisation officers, consultants or representatives of intermediary organisations.

The third event is a panel discussion titled “Home-Grown Philanthropy in Southeast Asia: A Bonus for Civil Society?” and takes place at SEA Junction on June 23 at 6pm. It will explore the funding opportunities offered by the robust growth of the home-grown Southeast Asian philanthropic sector and whether these translate into regular and sustainable support to civil society. This is especially in light of the risk-a-verse tendency of home-grown philanthropy, dominated by family corporate foundations and, even more commonly, corporate giving programmes operated through informal or corporate channels. 

The panel features moderator Rosalia Sciortino, IPSR, Mahidol University & SEA Junction and four speakers.

Ada Chirapaisarnkul founded the Thai Young Philanthropist Network (TYPN) in 2008, mobilising local and foreign students and institutions for a social investment and skillbased volunteering movement across Thailand and Southeast Asia. In 2017, she founded taejai.com, the first and largest fundraising website for social-impact projects. She has also taken on government projects, such as the first National Master plan for Social Enterprise Development with the Prime Minister’s office, and academic roles, such as lecturing and founding G-Lab at Thammasat University. On top of her various ongoing projects, some of her recent roles include Head of Social Impact Advisory for ChangeVentures, and Board Member of NEEDeed.

Cavelle Dove is the Team Lead of Women’s Economic Empowerment and Financial Inclusion at United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Myanmar. She has lived and worked in Southeast Asia since 2002, and has managed economic development and aid programs in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. She is the co-founder of a social business in Myanmar (YangonBakehouse); the founder of a NGO in Thailand (ImagineThailand); and has developed shared value partnerships across government, private sector, and civil society.

Ismid Hadad was the chairman of Perhimpunan Filantropi Indonesia, or the Association of Indonesian Philanthropy (PFI), an independent non-profit institution committed to facilitating the interests of the Indonesian philanthropic community. Prior to joining PFI, he was the executive director of Kehati, the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, a grant-making institution he helped found in 1994. Ismid is an economist and institutional development expert with more than 30 years of professional experience in the areas of governance, social communication, capacity building and environmental management. Before working with environmental NGOs, he spent several years in the private sector.

Mdm Ton Nu Thi Ninh is the president of the Ho Chi Minh City Peace and Development Foundation (HPDF). Prior to holding her current position, she served as deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of Vietnam and was for more than decades a diplomat in Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specialising in multilateral institutions and global issues. From 2000 to 2003, she was Vietnam’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and Head of the Mission to the European Union in Brussels. She also served a term on the Central Executive of the Vietnam Women’s Union. 

The event is free, but donations are most welcome to enable SEA Junction to continue its activities and keep events accessible to the public.

For more information and reservations, email southeastasiajunction@gmail.com or call (097) 002 4140.