Asian Philanthropy News Digest 12/17/09

Vietnam Challenge Fund.  The Vietnam Challenge Fund (VCF) launched last month with an initial budget of US$3 million for 2009-2011.  According to the Saigon Times Daily, the fund is designed to challenge the private sector in Vietnam to propose innovative new business models that benefit the poor. The fund “will help absorb some of the business risks associated with innovative projects that aim to increase employment and income for the poor.”  In Vietnam, about 90% of the 86 million people live in rural areas.  The fund will help those in rural areas gain access to capital.

An Interview with Jack Ma.  Jack Ma is one of China’s most influential leaders in China according to Time Magazine.  He is founder, chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group, the holding company of the largest business to business e-commerce platform (Alibaba.com) and consumer to consumer auction website in China (Taobao.com). Jack is also a trustee of The Nature Conservancy’s China program.  In this article Jack expresses his thoughts about the attitudes of environmentalism in China, his philanthropy, and why he is passionate about the environment: There are many other things that have inspired me.  When I visited the river where I learned to swim as a kid (I almost drowned in there when I was 12 years old), the water was full of garbage. The water use to come up to my chest and now is just barely above my ankle.  It has almost completely dried up. I thought to myself, “Oh my God, what’s going on?”