Procurement for Good: Government Procurement from the Social Sector in Asia

Government procurement of goods and services from the social sector is mutually beneficial. It helps the government leverage the social sector’s subject expertise and community links to deliver more efficient and cost-effective social services while also providing legitimacy and a sustainable source of income to social delivery organizations. However, the potential benefits are contingent on the ease and accessibility of government procurement and broader factors contributing to an SDO’s capacity to fulfill needs.

This policy brief provides an assessment of the policy landscape of government procurement from the social sector in Asia and highlights four key findings:

  1. Preferential government procurement policies in the social sector favor social enterprises over nonprofits.
  2. Nonprofits are contracted mostly as knowledge partners and welfare service providers, whereas social enterprises are more likely to be suppliers.
  3. Capacity issues are the biggest inhibitor of SDO participation in government procurement; these constraints range from production reliability to staffing to financial viability.
  4. Large and older SDOs with existing government relationships crowd out smaller and newer SDOs.

Based on these findings, the policy brief identifies bottlenecks that limit the potential benefits of government procurement from the social sector and introduces recommendations for governments and SDOs to address specific issues.

‘If you look at the Doing Good Index there are four sets of indicators’

Business360 Nepal

Ruth A Shapiro, Co-founder and Chief Executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), was recently in Kathmandu as the main resource person to speak at a programme organised to disseminate information about the Doing Good Index 2022. The programme was organised by the Chaudhary Foundation to help understand the relevance of the index in Nepal. Read the article here.

Asia’s social sector sees a funding decline

SME Horizon

COVID-19 has exacerbated income inequalities and social disparities across Asia, serving as a force multiplier for trends already in place. Assessing performance across four sub-indexes – Regulations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Ecosystem, and Procurement – CAPS’ biennial flagship study, the Doing Good Index 2022, examines the social investment landscape in Asia. Read here.

In Conversation With Ruth Shapiro, Founder and Chief Executive of Centre for Asia Philanthropy and Society


According to the Doing Good Index 2022, which analyses the social investment landscape in Asia, Covid-19 has exacerbated social disparities and income inequalities and across the region. We talk to Dr. Ruth Shapiro, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), which conducts the study biennially, about the pandemic’s impact on people in Asia, her work and improving Hong Kong’s social sector. Read here.

Funding for Asian NGOs falls amid tighter regulations

Philanthropy Age

Almost half of Asia’s social delivery organisations have reported a decline in funding in the last 12 months, some as much as 50 percent, according to new research. The Hong Kong-based Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) surveyed more than 2,000 entities and some 120 experts across 17 Asian economies, including India, Pakistan, China, and Singapore. Read here.

The Doing Good Index Reveals Asia’s Social Sector Sees a Funding Decline Despite Having the Highest Pandemic-Induced Poverty Globally

Yahoo Finance

Covid-19 has exacerbated income inequalities and social disparities across Asia, serving as a force multiplier for trends already in place. A new social impact study released today by the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) shows how to maximize philanthropic and policy responses to cope with these post-Covid challenges. Read here.

Doing Good Index 2022

Assessing the Health and Well-being of Asia’s Social Sector

Doing Good Index microsite

Our interactive microsite lets you visualize, explore and compare our data. Use our graphics and maps to help you understand Asia at a glance. The data dashboard allows you to compare economies and track changes across time. Economy profiles present a visual and digestible deep dive into each economy.

What is the Doing Good Index?

The Doing Good Index 2022 is the most comprehensive social impact index in Asia to date, highlighting the factors that drive or hinder private capital flowing towards social and economic challenges across 17 Asian economies.

The Doing Good Index comes at a critical time when economies have been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Inequalities have been exacerbated, and hard-won progress in social and economic growth has been undone. An estimated two-thirds of those newly forced into poverty live in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.

To address these shared challenges, all parts of society—individuals, companies, government and the social sector—must work together to drive more resources towards building a better future together. The Doing Good Index shows how. It provides a roadmap of the policies and practices that can unleash this capital by mitigating the trust deficit; leveraging local support; and facilitating cross-sector collaboration.

In 2022 we surveyed 2,239 SDOs and interviewed 126 experts across 17 Asian economies. In mapping the landscape of social investment, the study examines four sub-indices: Regulations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Ecosystem, and Procurement. We also include a section on how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the social sector.

The Doing Good Index is published every two years. Read the inaugural edition from 2018 and our 2020 edition.

Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index: Asia

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360 & the International Center for Non-For-Profit Law (ICNL)

This annual index analyzes the capacity of civil society organizations in nine countries across Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It assesses civil society’s capacity to serve both as a partner in the delivery of short-term solutions and in driving longer-term sustainable development outcomes.

2021 edition

2020 edition

2019 edition

2018 edition

DECODED: Asia’s social sector takes on Covid-19

Our DECODED series unpacks, explains and crystallizes issues critical for social investment in Asia. DECODED draws upon CAPS’ expertise in research, and access to an extensive network of sector experts and philanthropists in 18 Asian economies. This enables us to identify emerging trends in the region. Through DECODED, we translate these concepts into digestible insights.

This inaugural DECODED synthesizes how the social sector across Asia has risen to the occasion in responding to Covid-19, and what comes next. We end with recommendations for philanthropists, corporates and policymakers who want to invest in helping Asia’s social sectors thrive.

Merina Ranjit (Nepal)
Deputy General Manager
Chaudhary Foundation

Published date: 9 December 2020

Covid-19 has rapidly spread around the world impacting economies, healthcare systems and daily life. The challenges that it poses are real and consequential. To help policymakers and donors better understand the impact on Asia’s social sector, CAPS (virtually) sat down with our partners across the region to understand the challenges they are grappling with, the strategies they are employing to contain the fallout and their take on the future of the social sector.

To discuss the impact in Nepal, we spoke with Merina Ranjit, Deputy General Manager of the Chaudhary Foundation on 7 April 2020 followed by an update on 10 October 2020. The Chaudhary Foundation was established in 1995 and is the social initiative arm of the Chaudhary Group, one of Nepal’s most prominent multinational conglomerates. The Foundation focuses on activities aimed at improving the lives of the Nepalese people, strengthening communities, and sustainably developing the country.

CAPS: Thank you for speaking with us today, Merina. The Chaudhary Foundation has been involved in previous disaster and response management initiatives in Nepal, most notably in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. How has the Foundation been supporting efforts in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak? Has this impacted the work that you are already engaged in?

Merina: When Covid-19 first hit Nepal, hospitals in the country were not equipped to handle this crisis. To address this gap, the Chaudhary Foundation aided in identifying and sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and RT PCR testing kits from China to be donated to the government.

Our Covid response initiatives, however, have not affected our existing projects and grantees. It was decided at the onset of the outbreak that existing funding would not be reallocated. Instead, a separate fund was created to support Covid-19 response activities. We continue to be committed to all our projects and grantees.

CAPS: This is inspiring to hear. How has the government responded to the pandemic?

Merina: The government has limited resources but has been stepping up to raise awareness. Nepal recently transitioned to a federalist system and we are seeing provinces and local government entities empowered and stepping up during this time. The national lockdown announced on 24 March 2020 was a timely and effective strategy by the government to limit the spread of the virus.

One of the things that has really improved over the past few months is testing. Initially, testing was only available in Kathmandu but now there are testing labs all over the country. The government is also in discussion with various parties about the sourcing and distribution of vaccines.

CAPS: Have private companies also stepped up?

Merina:  Many private companies, especially those operating in trading and tourism, have been heavily affected. Apart from a few companies donating money, food, and PPE most are not able to do much. And as companies’ profits are declining so is CSR, which is mandated at 1% of profit.

CAPS: How has the social sector responded?

Merina: We have seen in Nepal that INGOs and NGOs have been unable to respond immediately due to funding constraints and operational red tape. Instead, there has been an increase in relief efforts and initiatives by grassroots and community-based organizations (CBOs). This includes many local organizations distributing free food to the base of the pyramid. The lockdown has disproportionately impacted this segment of society, most of whom are daily wage workers.

In addition, we have seen volunteer groups and CBOs mobilize in semi-urban and rural parts of the country to conduct awareness-raising activities. Nepal is a remittance-based economy and these regions are comprised largely of citizens who work in India and Qatar and who have returned home as a result of the pandemic. Volunteer groups are encouraging these returnees to quarantine at home to limit the spread of the virus.

CAPS:  What do you think a post-Covid Nepal will look like?

Merina: We all wonder about this. Unfortunately, I am getting more and more pessimistic. In 2019, Nepal was making progress on many social indicators but as a result of the lack of funding for the social sector and a tanking economy we are backtracking on many issues. For example, the maternal and neonatal mortality health had declined significantly. However, they are increasing again as fear of Covid is keeping expecting mothers away from hospitals. Another big issue area is education. Most children in Nepal have not received any education for months as public schools, which have been closed since April, do not offer online learning.

While it is too soon to tell what the implications will be in the long run, these undertakings make a strong case for further empowering local organizations that have proven to be key partners in times of crisis. It is our hope that the contribution of the social sector continues to be recognized in Nepal.