By Ming Lu Feb 16, 2022
In every sense of the word, the past year has been an exceptional time for KKR in Asia Pacific. Looking back, we achieved many milestones, including closing our fourth flagship private equity fund and our inaugural infrastructure and real estate funds, growing our talent pool across our eight offices, and continuing to deploy significant capital and support behind new and current portfolio companies to advance their growth plans.
Yet, we cannot overlook how challenging 2021 was for many around the world. Despite the tremendous collective efforts of governments, multilateral organizations, and front-line workers globally to stem the spread of COVID-19, the virus continues to pose great challenges, including through its evolution into new variants. In Asia, beyond the health toll, the pandemic has also accelerated several trends, including broadening social inequalities, with its impact felt unevenly across the region. We at KKR are inspired by the exceptional, non-stop efforts to combat the virus, and the humanitarian response to accompanying social challenges.
As a corporate citizen with a longstanding presence in Asia – we set up our first office here in 2005 – KKR is committed to giving back to our communities during this challenging period and supporting the needs of the region. In the past year, as part of a global COVID-19 Relief Effort, KKR contributed US$5.6 million to relief efforts across Asia Pacific through multiple channels, including local recovery initiatives, often working alongside different partners, including our portfolio companies and philanthropic networks.
This includes our efforts to help battle COVID-19 in India and China, as well as across Southeast Asia. We strategically implemented many support programs, including collaborating with leading networks with strong expertise, such as the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), in an effort to have the greatest possible positive impact on the region. This approach is the work of many across KKR, including our Asia Pacific Citizenship Giving Committee, who, with the strong support of AVPN, assessed many worthy grant applications to make giving decisions.
Despite the challenges of the past year, we are heartened by the exceptional efforts of communities, local businesses, and our portfolio companies to creatively offer support for those in need. KKR cares deeply about the long-term development of the Asia Pacific and we remain highly committed to invest behind the people of the region and the communities we serve.
So I am glad to share that KKR continues to seek ways to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on local communities and we are already contributing to the important work of many organizations across Asia, including:Australia / Singapore
- Generation: You Employed, a global youth employment program and independent NGO that seeks to transform education-to-employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible. During the pandemic, the program also created online courses to help train healthcare workers to treat COVID-19 patients.
- Tomorrow iCAN, a program that supports high school students from low-income backgrounds in their preparation for college entrance examinations with scholarships, training courses, and mentorship by educators and students from the country’s leading universities.
- Rural Doctors Program, which seeks to upskill Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors in rural areas through online and in-person training sessions, as well as internship opportunities for TCM majors, so they can better treat COVID-19 patients and improve the health of village communities.
- Room to Read, which works closely with local communities, partners, and governments to help children from low-income families gain literacy skills and girls complete secondary school education.
- WELgee, which seeks to enable those who have been displaced to gain control of their careers and life goals by fostering acceptance by companies and creating employment opportunities.
- Women’s Aid Organisation, which has a long history of protecting women’s rights and promoting gender equality in the country, through a wide range of projects and services, including raising awareness about women’s rights and providing free, confidential services to survivors of violence.
- Engineering Good, which works to empower inclusivity for disadvantaged communities, including persons with disabilities and low-income families, through sustainable engineering and technology solutions. During the pandemic, the charity collected, refurbished, and distributed used laptops to needy families to help them stay digitally connected with home-based learning and job searches.
- Save the Children Korea, part of the international organization that has worked for the past 100 years to realize children’s rights, and enable children to grow up in safe, healthy environments through providing counseling and treatment services, integrated case management, and community resources.
- Bahay Tuluyan Foundation, a children’s rights organization that has worked for more than 30 years to prevent and respond to abuse and violence against children. It works closely with the community to provide hands-on training through social enterprises and re-invests income into new opportunities.
- ECOWEB (Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits), a national NGO founded by development workers working on four issues: poverty; strained social relationships (from armed conflicts); environmental degradation (from disasters and climate change); and governance issues that lead to vulnerabilities of communities.
- Worldwide Orphans Foundation, which works to transform the lives of vulnerable children, families, and communities through trauma-informed, evidence-based programming. During the pandemic, the foundation distributed emergency relief kits with essential food items, hygiene products, and a program with early childhood activities so the children could continue learning while staying healthy.
- Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an organization that seeks to rescue children from crisis situations and place them in schools, training, and employment in the long term through a range of services including accommodation, out-of-school tuition, scholarships, and medical and nutritional support. The foundation offers training to government officials on issues such as human trafficking and child abuse, and works closely with legislators to provide constructive input on children-related policies.