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IIX & Shujog Featured in ADB Article on “Social Economy for Poor Communities”

October 17, 2012
By Asian Development Bank:
Social Economy for Poor Communities:

Social enterprises play a vital role in addressing social and environmental challenges in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific.

With a significant number of people living in extreme poverty in Asia and the Pacific, social enterprises, i.e., organizations that pursue social goals through commercial strategies, serve as a vital link to narrow the gap in the region’s income disparity.

“Social enterprises harness the power of the market to tackle social and environmental problems in a sustainable, scalable fashion. They may be set up as a nongovernment organization (NGO) or a small business, but they operate like a business rather than a charity while pursuing their socially oriented mission,” said Bart W. Édes, Director of ADB’s Poverty Reduction, Gender and Social Development Division.

“The power of social capital markets lies not only in having great ideas but the ability for the ideas to meet investments.” – Professor Durreen Shahnaz, founder of IIX and Shujog

ADB supports sustainable and scalable models that combine private sector impact with the goals that are traditionally associated more with operational NGOs. These efforts are very much aligned with the United Nations’ celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2012, encouraging all to help uplift the situation of poor people around the world.

Impact on Asian poverty

Success stories involving social enterprises abound in Asia and the Pacific. For example, in Cambodia, thanks to Sahakreas Cedac Ltd., five thousand farmer families learned technologies to improve their rice production and build their cooperatives, providing them with links to markets where they can sell their produce. As a result, they are starting to earn higher income and can now afford to send more children to school.

In Indonesia, Kedai Balitaku or Kebal is using “kaki lima”, an Indonesian food cart to provide healthy, affordable, and tasty food like the “Bubur Beras Merah” or red rice porridge to poor children in Jakarta. The enterprise has grown to four cooking centers and 22 food carts to help address malnutrition in the area.

Stories like these were shared in the first annual regional Impact Forum held in Singapore in June 2012. The Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX), also a social enterprise, organized the forum, while ADB supported some sessions to highlight outputs of an ongoing study on the creation of a platform to connect social enterprises with impact investors to benefit poor communities.

Ideas meeting investments

“The power of social capital markets lies not only in having great ideas but the ability for the ideas to meet investments. The Impact Forum presents the platform in which innovators can meet with investors who are inspired by the social enterprises’ vision and bring this vision to a larger scale,” said Professor Durreen Shahnaz, founder of IIX and Shujog, a Singapore-based, nonprofit sister organization of IIX that helps social enterprises around Asia to improve their organizational and fiscal accountability and enhance their governance in order to improve their attractiveness to potential investors.

Drawing upon Shujog’s expertise, ADB has prepared reports that offer insight into the role of social enterprise in different sectors and developing countries in Asia.

Harnessing the power of the markets, ADB continues to collaborate with partners to strengthen the promotion of social entrepreneurship and impact investing for the benefit of the region’s poor.


Click here for the pdf version or here to view the original article.

How to do good and triple returns

IIX Director and Head of Investor Team En Lee is in Prestige Magazine’s “40 under 40” and talks about impact investing. Click here to read the article.

IIX highlighted in Rockefeller trip to Singapore

Dr. Judith Rodin’s visit to Singapore and leadership of the Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) panel on impact investing has been highlighted by The Rockefeller Foundation. Click here to read the press release.

BBC News also covered the event, interviewing Dr. Rodin about how investors “can help meet the world’s needs” and the role IIX can play. More information about the interview can be found here.

Videos of comments by IIX Founder & Chairperson Prof. Durreen Shahnaz and Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin are available online.

RF_IIX_Durreen from gyneth tan on Vimeo.

RF_IIX_Dr_Rodin from gyneth tan on Vimeo.


The video of the panel discussion will be hosted online soon.  For immediate enquiries, please email

IIX announces successful close of seed capital investment in BagoSphere, led by Small World Group Incubator

September 26, 2012

Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) announced today that it successfully facilitated the seed capital round of funding for BagoSphere Pte. Ltd, a pioneering vocational training social enterprise that provides affordable and effective training programs catered to rural, low-income youths in the Philippines. The transaction closed through IIX’s Impact Incubator and Impact Partners platforms with four strategic investors. Law firm Clifford Chance provided pro bono legal support to BagoSphere for the transaction. The investment comes in the form of a convertible note and will fund start up costs and the establishment and operation of a training center in Bago City, Philippines.

BagoSphere is a vocational training social enterprise that provides affordable and effective training programs specifically catered to rural, low-income youth between the ages of 18 and 35 living near and at the base of the pyramid. The company targets training for call center jobs in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market. The Filipino BPO industry has grown by 24% year-on-year and Bacolod City currently ranks 3rd on the list of emerging centers. BagoSphere was co-founded by Zhihan Lee, Ivan Lau and Ellwyn Tan. The triumvirate completed a pilot program in Bago City, near Bacolod City, Philippines in 2011, in which 90% of its graduates successfully landed a job at a call center, 64% are still in employment, and 14% of the graduates since have been promoted. Through stable skilled employment, graduates are able to earn a salary four-times higher than that of unskilled work, raising themselves and their families above the national poverty threshold.

“I am excited to have four strong investors join BagoSphere in its mission to improve the livelihoods of rural youths and support our organization in the strategy and discipline of running a financially sustainable social enterprise. I have been impressed with the quality of professionals at IIX and the strength of their ecosystem partners, such as Clifford Chance, who collectively have guided BagoSphere step-by-step through the capital raising process.” Zhihan Lee, Co-founder and CEO.

BagoSphere delivers an eight-times higher pass rate than existing training courses and provides increased access for rural youths through a deferred payment scheme. It earns revenues through a commission from the employer upon job placement and a train-first-pay-later tuition fee from each student via affordable monthly installments. BagoSphere attributes its success to its superior results-oriented training curriculum that teaches job skills, life skills and financial literacy to support students in improving their livelihoods; long term partnership with the local government; and mutually beneficial partnerships with stakeholders such as call centers, and experienced Singaporean and Filipino advisers.

The transaction was led by Small World Group Incubator (SWGI), a Singapore-based incubator that provides seed funding and mentoring to help start and grow small companies. SWGI has partnered with IIX to provide funding and mentorship to social enterprises seeking seed stage capital. SWGI was joined in the investment by three other investors.

“Small World Group looks forward to its partnership with the BagoSphere team in expanding their efforts to raise rural youths out of poverty through a for-profit social enterprise model. I congratulate the team and thank IIX for managing this transaction in such a professional and efficient manner. We are proud to partner with IIX in their Impact Incubator program.” Frank Levinson, Partner, SWGI.

IIX identified BagoSphere as a social enterprise with high potential to create positive social impact at scale and worked with the management team to become investment-ready and prepare for investor pitches. IIX hosted BagoSphere at its Impact Forum 2012, providing the company an opportunity to present to accredited investors at its Social Enterprise Showcase, and introduced the company to the investor base of its Impact Partners platform. IIX led the transaction process and secured strategic investors ranging from a Filipino social enterprise incubator to an education-focused Singapore philanthropist. IIX and its sister non-profit organization, Shujog, helped BagoSphere create a social impact framework for measuring their impact and embedding their mission in their management metrics.

“IIX is pleased to have assisted BagoSphere in raising investment capital which will allow it to scale up its successful pilot program and expand the impact of its activities. IIX is particularly pleased to have been able to help BagoSphere prepare to meet investors and to have been able to connect the company with investors from its Impact Incubator and Impact Partners platform. We are also thrilled that we have been able to work with Shujog to put in place a social impact framework and assessment methodology and monitoring framework which will help management ensure that the company is achieving its social objectives.” Robert Kraybill, Managing Director of IIX.

About IIX:
IIX is revolutionizing the way the world looks at sustainable economic development in Asia through the creation of social capital markets. It is creating the platforms, products and ecosystem development to connect socially and environmentally mission-driven enterprises with impact investors. IIX operates Impact Incubator and Impact Partners, Asia’s first private platforms dedicated to promoting impact investments in Asian social enterprises. IIX is expected to launch its public investment platform, Impact Exchange, by December 2012 providing liquidity and transparency to investors in Asian social enterprises.

About BagoSphere:
BagoSphere is the recipient of Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Grant Program sponsored by Asia Philanthropic Ventures and an award winner of Start-up@Singapore’s Social Enterprise competition. BagoSphere is also incubated by Grameen Creative Labs @ National University of Singapore (NUS).


Contact Information:
For transaction inquiries, please email us at

For pdf version of this press release, please click here.

New Report on the State of Social Enterprises in India now available

IIX’s sister company, Shujog has a new report up!  As part of its Asian Development Bank (ADB) Regional Technical Assistance (RETA), Shujog is proud to share the newest report on the State of Social Enterprises in India.  Shujog served as a research consultant for the ADB to undertake the work for the report.  Access the full report here

Interviews at the Impact Forum

Delegates of the Impact Forum talk about their experience at the Forum and how they think the space is moving in Asia.

More funding options available to social enterprises

By Sim Ping Khuan 


SINGAPORE : A growing variety of funding options are now available to social enterprises. 

In Singapore, these businesses with social missions are now getting easier access to bank loans with preferential rates and other funding options. 

Since starting four years ago, Singapore-based Adrenalin Events and Education has been committed to employing the disadvantaged. 

About 30 per cent of the the firm’s staff either have physical challenges or are youths from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

The social enterprise has been on the lookout for funding options to balance its social mission and grow its business.

Richardo Chua, managing director of Adrenalin Events and Education, said: “Now we are realising how do we get out of this first stage of growth into the second stage of growth, and that is where investors, banks, financial institutions can come in and say, ‘This is an area we want to support you with, here is an investment, here is a loan, here is a product that can help you.'”

With over 80 per cent of social enterprises in Singapore as its customers, Singapore’s largest banking group, DBS, has unveiled an enhanced banking package to remove some barriers to entry.

These business are now not required to maintain a minimum monthly account balance.

Preferential loan rates will also be offered to them. 

Lim Chu Chong, head of enterprise banking at DBS Group, said: “As a bank, we could help in terms of the very basic banking, that is why we came up with a social enterprise package. We have plans to put capital into some of these promising social enterprises, both at the start-up stage and to take them further.”

Meanwhile, organisations such as Impact Investment Exchange Asia are stepping in to match interested investors with suitable social enterprises.

En Lee, director for Impact Partners at Impact Investment Exchange Asia, said: “Many family offices and high net worth individuals that have been doing philanthropy through grant-based models are now considering going into impact investing because it is more sustainable, it is transparent, and hopefully, there is better efficiency of capital.”

The firm is currently in talks with regulators to introduce a “social stock exchange” by the end of the year to allow social enterprises to raise capital in a traditional capital market setting.


Rebel with a cause.

Read Durreen Shahnaz’s exclusive interview with Her World Magazine.

The pillars that support inclusive growth

DONOR money is drying up and social enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region are looking towards being both profit-driven and socially impactful, said participants at an industry forum this week. Published in The Business Times 30 June 1 July 2012.

More people in Asia making impact investments

June 26, 2012 – Channel News Asia  Singapore: Investing with a social cause has caught on in Asia.  Read more here.