Singapore cements its position as social investment hub in Asia

singapore skyline_616x400_2In the coming months, Singapore will be host to a variety of events focused on social investing, marking its status as a pre-eminent hub for the industry. A number of organisations are hosting conferences and convening summits in 2014, firmly putting Singapore on the social investment map in Asia.F1 AVPN Conference2014Speaker Collage 2014The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) will be hosting its second annual conference in Singapore on 14-16 May at the Singapore Management University (Days 1 & 2 in main conference program with Day 3 for Private Events), in partnership with the Lien Centre for Social Innovation. The conference will see the coming together of more than 300 leading practitioners to discuss the three fundamental pillars of venture philanthropy, namely financial, human and intellectual capital. It will gather successful commercial leaders who have transferred their business skills and capital to support the social sector and will speak about their journeys into the world of philanthropy and social investment.The conference will gather experts from organisations such as Shell Foundation, The Royal Foundation, Oxfam GB, SK Group, Ford Foundation and BMW Foundation among others, and help bring the spotlight on venture philanthropy in the region to Singapore.“AVPN’s Annual Conference is a unique platform for funders and other resource providers to come together to learn about social investing in Asia. I am new to the region and it was this conference last year that inspired me to move to this area of the world where I see so much potential and great human capital for social innovation,” Andrew Muirhead, Executive Vice-Chair of AVPN, said.Another event in Singapore this year is the 3rd Impact Forum, which is focused on impact investing. The event, to be hosted by IIX and Shujog on 12-13 June, is a gathering of global stakeholders in social finance and will be about exchange of ideas on deepening and accelerating social finance and taking it from niche to mass.bopIn August 2014, Base of Pyramid (BoP) Hub is launching its maiden BoP World Convention & Expo in Singapore. This is an event designed for the global community to connect for innovation and to create a vibrant marketplace serving four billion customers at the base of the pyramid, an opportunity of more than US$5 trillion. “The inaugural BoP World Convention & Expo 2014 provides a collaborative platform for thought leaders, corporations, social entrepreneurs and investors to join efforts to create a vibrant market-based ecosystem serving 4 billion new customers at the base of the pyramid,” according to Jack Sim, founder of BoP Hub Forum.The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) is also organising its second by invitation-only Philanthropy in Asia Summit (PIA) on 20-21 October this year. PIA2014 is a network-based strategic initiative that aims to mobilise Asian philanthropy to look beyond just altruism and become impactful and sustainable agents of change. Through PIA2014, NVPC hopes to mobilise a new wave of Asian philanthropic leadership that is impact-oriented, transparent and engaging, collaborative, and champions of philanthropic best practices, according to Esther Tan, Assistant Director of NVPC.F2 PIAAlthough Singapore does not have the target markets that most social enterprises and philanthropic organisations need to address, it has, over time, become a facilitator in this space in Asia, bringing together different stakeholders from the social sector. Themes that are increasingly becoming popular in Singapore include corporate sustainability, venture philanthropy, multi-sector partnerships, social entrepreneurship, inclusive business and impact investment.In all, according to the International Organisations Programme Office (housed within the Singapore Economic Development Board), Singapore is home to more than 150 international non-profits that execute key regional functions from the country. This is not surprising, considering that giving is on the rise in Singapore and the country consequently has a growing donor base for organisations to tap into. For instance, charitable donation in Singapore increased by more than three times between 2006-2012 from S$341 million to S$1.1 billion, according to the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre Individual Giving Survey 2012.This factor, coupled with Singapore’s proximity to and seamless connectivity with parts of Asia that are witnessing increased activity in this space, suggests we are likely to see more of such events in Singapore with greater frequency in the near future.