The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) completed its Road Show – which travelled to Mumbai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo – in the month of October. The objective of the road show was to provide a platform to practitioners in the venture philanthropy industry to share best practices with peers and to learn more about venture philanthropy in other markets and contexts.
Shaks Ghosh, chief executive officer of UK-based Private Equity Foundation, and Ruth Jones, chief executive officer of Social Venture Partners International, were the philanthropists travelling with AVPN across the four Asian cities to share their experiences and perspectives with leading venture philanthropy practitioners in the region. Some of the participating organisations included Ashoka: Innovators for Public, Uno Kapital and LGT Venture Philanthropy in Singapore; Deshpande Foundation, Dasra and Impact Investment Partners in Mumbai; D3 Jubilee, Crosspoint Advisors and Social Investment Partners in Tokyo; and Synergy Social Ventures, NPI, Social Ventures Hong Kong and China Foundation Center in Hong Kong.
The road show was well received by audiences in the different cities and the sessions were stimulating. “I found it tremendously stimulating, hearing about different approaches. There is a lot going on in Asia,” said Ruth Jones. She added that she liked the fact the event provided an opportunity for participants in the field to come together to share information, since “the follow-on effects from that are huge”.
Venture philanthropy is a relatively new concept in Asia and some of the participants felt that the road show helped demonstrate the progress that is being made in this area across the region. Joan Yao, Southeast Asia investment manager at LGT Venture Philanthropy, told AVPN: “What I liked about [the] roadshow in Singapore is that we have progressed a little bit beyond first of all defining venture philanthropy – something we talked about a lot last year.” She added that there has been movement forward and people are savvier about venture philanthropy, which was evident from the fact that discussions have progressed to themes such as leveraging and collaboration rather than merely financial capital.
Shaks Ghosh was of the view that the speakers themselves had learnt through the road show and they got to understand different audiences in Asia through the road show. “I think the roadshow is a great idea and I’m amazed at how many people are turning out at these sessions. The energy is incredible,” she said.
She said, however, that one of the key challenges in venture philanthropy is the use of language, irrespective of where discussions are carried out. “We’re all speaking in English, but there’s the investment language, the philanthropy language, the charity language, the impact language. There is an assumption that everyone knows what you are talking about,” she said, adding that AVPN had the additional responsibility to keep interpreting, clarifying and helping people understand the language so that it becomes easier for practitioners.
Muhammad Maulana, chief executive officer of Uno Kapital, an impact investing firm focused on for-profit social-oriented companies in Indonesia, called the road show “an excellent event, because at such an event we can hear of best practices from people from all over the world and try to implement them to our specific countries, Indonesia in my case”.
In each of the four cities the road show travelled to, it saw attendees from business, government, financial, family office, none-government and academic organisations. The success of the events is an important step forward for the AVPN as it seeks to enhance the understanding of venture philanthropy in Asia and to provide opportunities to bring venture philanthropy practitioners together.
Watch the speakers in action at the Singapore seminar here.