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According to the Global Impact Investing Network, close to US$500mil that was deployed by private impact investors into Southeast Asia between 2007 to 2017 was in the form of debt, compared to US$408mil in the form of equity. Average debt quantum has been higher too, at US$5.8mil per deal, compared to US$3mil for an average equity investment. With the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development citing a multi-trillion dollar financing gap to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, can impact debt investors play a part in closing this gap? What impact frameworks can such investors use? For companies, what trade-offs are there when trying to raise debt? In this episode of the Investor Series, join me, Theodore Pang, Senior Investment Manager of SEEDS Capital, as I speak with Amy Wang, Head of Private Debt at Blue Earth Capital. Headquartered in Switzerland, Blue Earth Capital invests in debt, equity and funds, with the aim of providing access to basic needs, promoting inclusive growth and fighting climate change.Stay tuned, as Amy shares her personal journey into impact debt, how Blue Earth Capital helps its portfolio companies navigate the trade-offs to debt, and hear an example of how impact debt can be used to create economic opportunities while reducing the incidence of forest fires in Indonesia. *Post recording, the speaker has clarified that the case study applies to Bukit Tigapuluh. We apologize for the mispronunciation.
The dairy industry is one of the largest food segments in the world valuing over US$700 billion. However, while it is one of the biggest, it is also one of the greatest polluters of our planet. The shear amount of resources it takes, as well as the amount of methane that cows produce is highly detrimental to our environment.One company, TurtleTree Labs, is looking to revolutionise the industry with their ground breaking cell-based dairy products. How do they plan on bringing their new products to the world? What difficulties have they faced so far? How do we measure impact in this industry?To answer these questions, I speak to Fengru Lin, CEO of TurtleTree Labs, for her insights.
Take a second to imagine what our cities could look like in the future…Will our cities be thriving and sustainable places to live? Or will our environmental problems continue to escalate? Will our citizens freely and seamlessly commute and travel?  Or will our streets be chaotic and congested?We have arrived at a crucial turning point for the Southeast Asian region. If growth is well managed, Southeast Asia can be a proper force for economic and social prosperity. But if it isn’t, our societies could seriously suffer, severely diminishing our quality of life and our environment.Southeast Asia has a tremendous opportunity to sow the seeds for its future.To talk more about how to build a smarter and more sustainable future, I speak with SauSheong, CEO of SP (Singapore Power) Digital, for his insights.
Collectively, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia have a GDP of close to $US3 trillion and that was growing by between 5 and 6 per cent a year until the COVID-19 pandemic led to movement restrictions and a dip in global trade.But according to figures from Euromonitor and The World Bank, 50% the adult population in the SEA Region remain unbanked with no access to financial products, and a further 18%  are underbanked – lacking access to anything other than a bank account. With 70 percent of the population using smart phones there’s an opportunity for Fintech companies to step in and deliver digital financial services such as lending and wealth management to consumers who previously did not have access due to a lack of credit history.So should we be optimistic about the concept of embedded finance? How does it help a businesses grow? Does financial inclusion and access to credit deliver impact to developing nations?To answer these questions, I speak to Chris Sirisereepaph, Partner at Saison Capital for his insights.
According to a 2018 report from the Cambridge Institute of Family Enterprise, businesses dominate Southeast Asia and form a critical part of its economy. More than half of the region’s largest companies, and nearly all of its conglomerates both private and listed are family-controlled. These businesses account for a significant percentage of employment and economic development in the region.Unfortunately, a large number of the family businesses in Southeast Asia have neglected to take the necessary steps to transform their businesses, putting themselves and the SEA region in jeopardy.This is particularly predominant in traditional industries with established oligopolistic-like market structures that discourages innovation.How then does an incumbent take the courage and vision to embrace innovation in traditional industries and be willing to step into new unfamiliar ways of doing business?To answer this question, I speak to James Ong, Director, M&A and Business Development at IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group, a traditional shipping company that looks to Venture Capital as its next source of engine growth.
By 2050, it is estimated that our global population will reach close to 10 billion people! Of which, 70% will reside in urban areas, this translates to a whopping 60% more food required to feed our population.And the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated this problem.As Southeast Asia’s economies have contracted and slowed, serious concerns have emerged regarding food security in the region. Farming, a major employer in most Southeast Asian countries, has experienced a significant drop in rural labour due to mobility restrictions. This has caused a fall in both farm productivity and rural incomes.Overall, millions are likely to fall into poverty after 2020, and this includes millions who were otherwise predicted to escape it. As a result, food consumption has fallen in many households, and a significant number of people have reported not being able to afford enough food.It’s not a pretty picture, and if you are listening, you should be alarmed. But there is always hope, especially in situations like these.To talk more about the future of food, I speak with Isabelle Decitre, founder and CEO of ID Capital, for her insights.
According to UNICEF, of the 83 million children in Indonesia, one third of children under 5 are malnourished, stunted, wasted or overweight, while two thirds are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets.In fact, it is even more crucial that action is taken immediately as it is predicted that Indonesia will likely have the highest rate of child deaths from Covid-19 in the world, with health officials blaming the unusually high death toll amongst children on underlying health conditions such as malnutrition.One particular startup working towards combating malnutrition is Kindary...They are producing a new type of cow’s milk that has garnered attention from both consumers and scientists alike.  Known as A2 Milk it is easier to digest than regular cow's milk and includes a range of other health benefits including improved immunity but what will be the impact of such a product? Especially in parts of Southeast Asia where as much as 90% of adults suffer some level of lactose intolerance.How can innovative businesses use advancing technology to increase production, quality and profit, and how will that impact the lives of their customers, especially children?To answer these questions, I speak to Pak Warren Choo head of Kindairy, for his insights.
Given the purpose-driven nature of social enterprises, do these organisations have to forego financial return for impact? How do we find out what impact has been created by these social enterprises? What does an impact-driven company even look like in the first place?In this episode of the Investor Series, join me, Theodore Pang, Senior Investment Manager of SEEDS Capital, as I speak with Leon Toh, Director of Damson Capital. Based in Singapore, Damson Capital invests in early to growth stage social enterprises in Southeast Asia, with areas of focus in essential services, the environment and resilient communities.So stay tuned, as Leon gives an example of a profit with purpose investment from his portfolio, why context matters when looking at returns, and his take on the difference between inputs, outputs and outcomes of impact investing.
It was once said that if there is magic on our planet, it is contained in water. Today, one out of six people (that’s more than a billion people), do not have adequate access to safe water. By 2050, The UN estimates that as many as three out of four people worldwide could be affected by water scarcity. The water crisis is particularly prevalent in Asia. Asia is currently home to more than half of the world's population, and the population in Asia is expected to increase by nearly 500 million people within the next 10 years. And yet, Asia has less freshwater than any continent besides Antarctica. As population increases and urbanization explodes, stress on the region’s water resources is at a breaking point. And climate change is expected to significantly worsen the situation. While the situation is bleak, now is the time to unite and to rise. Solutions are definitely possible, but make no mistake about it, it will be a proper challenge. Solutions will require commitment and contribution from all pillars of society: people, businesses and government. To talk more about how we can sustainably and responsibly restore our world, I speak with Amrit Nayak, co-founder and CEO of Indra Water, for his insights. 
Nanyang Realty is a real estate and investment holding company that has its origins in Singapore. Founded in 1968, it has, over the last five decades, garnered valuable experience in property development and management, marine and shipbuilding, hospitality and financial investments. Ken Ang is Current Director of Portfolio and strategy and a third-generation member of the Ang family, we speak with him about the importance of sustainability as well as the challenges of a leading multi generational family business.
Building the ecosystem for impact startups in underserved marketsAccording to the Global Impact Investing Network, more than US$900mil of impact capital had been deployed by non-Development Finance Institutions into Southeast Asia over a 10-year period under study. In comparison, South Asia has more than double the population of Southeast Asia, but saw only around US$823mil of impact investments.Given that India attracted more than half of the impact investments in South Asia, how do we characterize the funding situation for impact-driven startups elsewhere in the region? How do investors look to Southeast Asia for support and inspiration to draw in more capital for the emerging South Asia countries?In this episode of the Investor Series, join me, Theodore Pang, Senior Investment Manager of SEEDS Capital, as I speak with Sonia Bashir Kabir, CEO of SBK Tech. Sonia started SBK Tech Ventures in Bangladesh in 2017 and has invested in 38 startups since then. Her new VC fund, SBK Tech, was recently set up in Singapore to focus on technology inclusion in underserved markets.So stay tuned, as I interview Sonia on how VC funds can go beyond financing to support the startup ecosystem, why she believes social impact and commercial scale go hand in hand, and her views on catalyzing investments into some of the more underserved markets by leveraging Southeast Asia’s position as a VC hub.
According to a 2019 UBS Global Family Office Report, a quarter of family offices are engaged in impact investing. Over a third are expected to increase their impact allocation to as much as 24% over the next five years.The most popular investments were direct private equity (76%), real estate (32%), and private equity funds (24%). And the industries of interest are education (45%), agriculture/food (45%), and energy and resource efficiency (43%).This sounds like a positive development, but how involved are family offices in impact investing,  and are they truly making a difference through their investments, in particular to SEA? To answer this question, I speak with Cindy Ko, Head of Asia-Pacific at Toniic, a global community of asset owners seeking deeper positive net impact, for her insights.
The Prosperity ParadoxSince the mid-1960s, Asia has achieved remarkable economic growth and has seen hundreds of millions of people rise out of poverty. However the fact is, Asia is still some way away from completely eradicating poverty. At the end of 2020, there were still over 500 million people affected by poverty in Asia.Poverty is typically looked at as a lack of resources. So it makes sense that to solve the poverty problem we push resources that a country lacks. For example, if a country lacks sufficient health care, clinics are pushed. If education is the missing resource then schools are pushed. But history suggests that this way of doing things, while well-intentioned, has simply not been successful.But if the problem of poverty can’t simply be solved by an injection of passion and resources, then what to do instead?To answer these questions and more, I speak to Efosa Ejoma, Global Prosperity Lead of the Christensen Institute, for his insights.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization many countries in Southeast Asia have a significantly lower ratio of doctors to    general population when compared to countries like the U.S.A. and China, only Singapore comes close with 2.3 doctors per 1.000 people.   However Indonesia and Thailand have a ratio of just 0.4 doctors per 1,000 people whilst other Southeast Asia countries are higher, with Vietnam at 0.8, the Philippines at 1.2, Malaysia at 1.6 per 1,000.With increasing life expectancy and challenges such as the Covid 19 pandemic is healthcare in Southeast Asia heading towards a crisis? And how can advancing technology such as Health IT and Telehealth alleviate the pressure and increase the impact of the human workforce. And what can startups do to support the healthcare industry in S.E.A?To answer these questions, I speak to Dr Tan Hui Ling, Managing Director of Bagan Specialist Centre (BSC) and Oriental Melaka Straits Medical Centre (OMSMC), for her insights.
What is Impact Investing and how does it differ from traditional investing?According to the Global Impact Investing Network, impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact, alongside a financial return. A report by the same organization stated that more than US$900mil was deployed by private impact investors into Southeast Asia between 2007 to 2017. The region was described as having the fastest growing impact investing market in the world for the latter half of that decade.Amid the flurry of activity in the region, are there specific areas of interest for impact fund managers in Southeast Asia? What are some key considerations for these investors? How do impact funds make investments with commercial sense, while staying true to the mandate of helping vulnerable communities in the region?In the Investor Series of IMPACT S.E.A, join me, Theodore Pang, Senior Investment Manager of SEEDS Capital, as I speak with impact investors to address these questions. We look at impact case studies and discuss topics such as intentionality, impact measurement and areas of opportunity.For the first episode of the Investor Series, we have Mason Tan, Director of Impact Investing at CBP Quilvest Wealth Advisory, or CBPQ. Based in Singapore, CBPQ launched the Garden Impact Fund to focus on social enterprises that serve vulnerable groups in Southeast Asia. So stay tuned, as I interview Mason on some of the investments he has made in the region, and why technological disruption in agriculture could be of great interest to the Garden Impact Fund.
The Indonesian Healthcare industry is facing a massive problem.The lack of necessary medical equipment, supplies, doctors, and beds are some of the main concerns with the Indonesian healthcare industry. There is one hospital bed per 1,000 people in Indonesia, well below the world average of 3.6 per 1000 people. There are also only 25 doctors per 100,000 people.A report done by Oliver Wyman shows a vast disparity of health results due to geography and income. The report explains that there is a 15-year difference in life expectancy between urban and rural areas, illustrating Indonesia’sIncredible geographical healthcare challenge. This is an almost uniquely Indonesian challenge: The country’s archipelago structure and a wide income distribution create regional issues that compound other factors.So what's being done now? Today’s traditional healthcare ecosystem model is inconvenient for patients. It is a traditional supplier-oriented, volume-driven, high-touch model. In addition, unique Indonesian characteristics pose their own challenges.How do we solve Indonesia’s problem of geographic disparity? What are some of the challenges that Indonesian healthcare startups face when tackling these problems? What should be the main focus moving forward? To answer these questions, I speak to Pak Danu Wickasana, MD of Good Doctor Technology, a digital healthcare joint-venture between Grab and Ping An Good Doctor, for his expert insights.
Season 2 Teaser

Season 2 Teaser


A taste of what's to come when we launch Season 2 next week!Be sure to subscribe not to miss an episode!
According to a report by World Psychiatry, South Asian countries comprise one-quarter of the world’s population and approximately 150–200 million people in this region have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder and limited access to mental health. Despite the significant burden of illness and growing international emphasis, the mental health infrastructure in this region is relatively weak, with less than 1% of the total national budgets allocated to it. There is also a shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, clinical psychologists, as well as social workers. Pre-COVID-19 estimates reveal that nearly US$ 1 trillion in economic productivity is lost annually from depression and anxiety alone.This ongoing pandemic isn’t doing the world a favour either. A survey by WHO estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing. The twin terror of a pandemic in a region where mental health issues are rampant and improperly dealt with, could spell disaster for a country in ways more than just the economy. In addition to the limitations in resource allocation, the lack of community awareness toward mental health and prevailing stigma further limits the number of patients that actively seek health care. What is the state of solutions available for mental health issues in Southeast Asia? How do we tailor our solutions to properly suit the region? What opportunities do stakeholders have to make a significant impact?To answer these questions, I speak to Dr Kanpassorn Eix,  Founder of Ooca, for her expert insights on the significance of mental health in Asia and the innovative solutions in the region.
Every business and every industry sector has a role to play in making change happen. But what role do businesses and brands have in changing the behaviours of their consumers?According to a report from the IFC World Bank, the market potential for global impact investing is huge - as much as $269 trillion—the financial assets held by institutions and households across the world—is potentially available for investment. Directing just 10% of this amount into projects focused on improving social and environmental outcomes would go a long way toward providing the necessary funding for the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.In fact, a report done by Quest Ventures shows that despite the relatively small size of SEA, its impact investing ecosystem has developed significantly over the past 10 years. More than USD904 million has been injected via 225 direct deals by Private Impact investors (PIIs) and the numbers are in the billions for Developmental Financial Institutions (DFIs), the SEA’s impact investing ecosystem has developed significantly in the past decade. Seeing the increased interest in SEA, how do we further attract more impact investors to the scene? One of the methods is to use public relations (PR) to effect real action and change.How then do businesses, big or small, embed sustainability into the heart of corporations and brands for commercial and societal impact and how can companies use public relations to take up a more dynamic role; as an agent for change and attract investors? What gaps are there in company sustainability strategies that can be addressed by PR?To answer these questions, I speak to Sarah Craggs, Sustainability Practice Lead, MullenLowe salt, for her expert insights.
Do you have a home? If you do, you’re luckier than more than one billion people in the world without a roof over their heads.In spite of all the advancements of the modern world, there are still more than one billion people  without a home; a number set to double by 2030. In fact, according to the World Bank, in Southeast Asia alone, more than 37% of Southeast Asia’s urban population lives in slums and poor living conditions. However, how accurately can we determine the level of homelessness? According to the Homelessness World Cup Foundation, it isn’t as easy as we thought. Getting an accurate picture of global homelessness is one of the biggest challenges as census data often fails to include those who may be residing in inadequate settlements such as slums, squatting in structures not intended for housing, couch surfing with friends and family, and those who relocate frequently. Furthermore, the problem of homelessness is extremely unique for each country - there’s no one size fits all solution. Size, region or economic strength, all come into play when designing a solution for homelessness. With such large problems with data collection, how then can we effectively tackle the problem of homelessness? What are some practical steps that have been taken to resolve the housing crisis in Southeast Asia?To answer these questions, I speak to Prasoon Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO, BillionBricks, for his expert insights and some of the innovative solutions of this growing housing crisis. 
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