The AVPN Global Conference puts under-represented Asian voices on a world stage

The AVPN Global Conference, which  concluded in Bali, made recommendations from the event which will be handed to world leaders attending the G20 in Bali in November this year. One of the strongest themes to emerge from the event was that Asian voices have been under-represented on the world stage, despite Asia holding 63% of the world’s population and 42% of its wealth, and that this has to change now if the world has any hope of reaching its SDG goals.


Pictured: Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President, Program Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation, addressing the crowd at the AVPN Global Conference.


The Conference is the world’s largest networking event for Social Investors in Asia. Ms Naina Subberwal Batra,AVPN CEO said it was time to rethink how capital is accumulated and deployed in Asia because Western models of philanthropy don’t adequately address local issues. The funding gap for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals has doubled since the pandemic, with Asian nations disproportionately affected, so she urged Asian funds to fill the gap and said the power dynamic must move to the frontline with those who best understand how to create impact in developing communities. Declaring the Asian revolution has arrived, she called on Asian leaders to step up and leapfrog the world, saying, “This is the decade for action, the decade for decision. This is our decade – the Asian decade.”

Ms Batra’s speech was followed by an opening address from Minister Sandiaga Uno,Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, who said that blended and sustainable finance would be key to developing back better from the pandemic. He also highlighted the importance of collaboration to ensure outcomes. “This year is the starting era for the revival of the global and national economy, especially for the tourism and creative economy sector,” Minister Sandiaga Una said. “I believe through our collaborations, we could use some of the opportunities of this philanthropic network to subdue the devastating impacts of the pandemic.”


Pictured: Dato’ Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director & Trustee of Hasanah Foundation, giving an address at the AVPN Global Conference, about accelerating change through innovative partnership models.


The event was held with the support of Kemenparekraf (The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy), with Minister Uno saying he hoped the conference would provide solutions and opportunities in terms of a sustainable and inclusive economy, to create a safe environment, increase productivity, stability and security and also to strengthen global leadership, especially in Asia.

Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment of Indonesia, said, “Over the last few years, impact investing in Southeast Asia has been on a growth trajectory Southeast Asia secured 298 deals with over USD 6 billion. Indonesia remains the largest market compared to other countries in Southeast Asia with 28% of the total deals by volume and 21% by value.”

Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, Co-Chair of the T20 think tank, said the G20 was still dominated by its developed nation members but it was time to shift this dynamic.”We hope by being the host of the G20, we can share a vision that is closer to the needs of developing nations,” he said.

With pooled funds key to solving major issues, AVPN, with its partners, announced several new funds during the course of the Conference including:

  • USD 25m Gender Fund – which will be launched at the G20
  • USD 3m Sustainability Seed Fund with and Asian Development Bank to help combat climate change through technology
  • USD 1m Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition Fund with Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, Quantedge Advancement Initiative and Vitol Foundation to provide a healthy start for vulnerable babies and children
  • USD 1m STEM Fund with Lenovo Foundation, XTC Markets and BHP, to close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and ensure women and girls have greater engagement in these courses and careers.

The Conference also saw the launch of new platforms and collaborations to ensure that the recommendations made during the event lead to action that will continue to drive change:

  • The Asian Gender Network (AGN) who will work towards a more gender equitable world by mobilising capital to improve outcomes for girls and women;
  • The Asian Impact Leaders Network (AILN), launched in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, bringing together leaders from government, private sector and NGOs to provide a platform to collectively maximise their impact; and
  • The Youth Opportunities Platform which will unlock and mobilise resources towards youth promotion in Asia and give young people a seat at the table in creating the future they want to see.


One of the key learnings that emerged from the event is that social investors must give greater autonomy to investees to use funding where and how it is needed, rather than just in ‘safe’ projects The greatest lesson is that investors need to be more audacious and bold and need to trust the people on the ground to understand where the greatest impact can be made.

There was also a focus on mental health, with Asian nations seeing an increase in mental health issues, while stigma around mental wellness prevails in the region.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive, British Asian Trust said, “There are difficulties in measuring success of mental health initiatives. This is where philanthropists and social investors have a huge role to play where they support these developing ideas.”

Neerja Birla, Chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust (ABET) said,”The big challenges that we face in our world [on mental health is] is lack of awareness: [either] you’re not aware what mental health is, …[or] you don’t want to accept it, which comes from stigma and taboo.”


Source: AVPN