As venture philanthropy finds its feet in Asia, AVPN continues to play an instrumental role as a catalyst for the setting up of venture philanthropy funds in the region. While philanthropy by itself is not a recent phenomenon in Asia, AVPN is helping crystallise the concepts of venture philanthropy and social investment in an attempt to magnify the impact of capital spent in this sector. This article will highlight two of these funds in Asia, one is with the newly formed Social Impact Partners in Hong Kong, and the other, also with the acronym “SIP”, is Social Investment Partners in Japan.
Social Impact Partners (SIP) in Hong Kong aims to achieve long lasting impact for Hong Kong’s most vulnerable communities. The organisation came about as a result of an initiative taken by individuals with social investment experience and private equity backgrounds who sought to create a social philanthropy fund in Hong Kong to develop the market for both non-profits and social enterprises, says Lindy Lek, executive director of Social Impact Partners Hong Kong. The organisation is involved in not just providing capital but also non-financial resources to social purpose organisations including social enterprises and non-profits. “We believe an effective combination of strategic funding, management support and capacity building will enhance their scalability, financial and operational sustainability and achieve compelling social impact,” Lindy says. Tapping into the AVPN network, she says, “has helped us develop a pipeline of opportunities which meet our funding criteria”. She adds that the organisation also benefits from “the depth of knowledge and scope of relationships” within AVPN and the European Venture Philanthropy Association. AVPN members were brought together by the organisation to form the fund. Social Impact Partners members share a common goal of proving that venture philanthropy, with an infusion of not only financial capital, but also human capital resources tailored to the needs of social purpose organisations, will enable the organisations to have significant social impact. Going forward, Lindy says, AVPN can play more of a role in sharing best practices related to venture philanthropy. In a region where the concept of venture philanthropy is still at a nascent stage, AVPN can also play an important role in connecting venture philanthropy funds regionally and globally, which is something AVPN is already doing.
Another fund the AVPN helped catalyse is Social Investment Partners. Today, Social Investment Partners manages the Japan Venture Philanthropy Fund (JPVF), which was set up as a joint effort between Social Investment Partners and Nippon Foundation, both AVPN members. It was a collaboration that came about as a result of AVPN connecting the two organisations. According to Ken Ito, one of the board members on Social Investment Partners, this fund aims at creating a new social investment platform to support social innovation. “It differs from traditional grant-making organisations both in its strategic grant-making and extensive hands-on support to accelerate the growth of the investee organisations,” he says. The fund focuses its efforts on education and youth employment, childcare and women empowerment, and community development. AVPN provided knowledge on existing venture philanthropy models in Europe, the US and Asia to Social Investment Partners, according to Ken, and also provided information on potential deal flow. Moreover, AVPN’s extensive and diverse network also allow it the ability to introduce potential funders looking for opportunities to join a venture philanthropy fund, particularly those that are interested in venture philanthropy, but are not prepared to commit to establishing their own venture philanthropy initiative, Lindy says. It can also play a role in bringing together member funds that may want to co-invest. Since its inception less than 3 years ago, AVPN has sought to promote the venture philanthropy industry in Asia. Its membership numbers have grown to more than 160 today, and this allows it the benefit of a network which it can tap into and also provide a platform for the key stakeholders of the industry to engage on.