Asian Community Trust (ACT)
The Asian Community Trust (ACT), established in 1979 as Japan's first community trust, accepting bequests and donations from individuals and organizations in Japan, extends grants to NGOs and other civil society organizations in Asian countries for social development, education, youth development, environmental preservation and other causes of societies in the region. At one of the four trust banks serving as trustees of ACT, a donor can set up a special ACT fund with a donation of over 10 million yen (approximately US$98,000), designating their fields of interest for assistance and naming the fund as they wish. As of March 2014, ACT has twenty-six special funds with total assets of over 430 million yen (Approximately US$4.2 million). It also accepts donations of any amount for general support - ACT is accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Finance with tax deductible status for donations.
ACC21 has served as ACT's Secretariat since ACC21's inception in 2005. Its main functions cover collecting project proposals from Asian applicants, surveying conditions of applicants through site visits, presenting applications to the Executive Advisory Committee of ACT who select grant recipients, and monitoring and evaluating outcomes of approved projects. In addition, ACC21 engages in donor relations in Japan and disseminates the results of grant projects to donors and the general public. It also appeals for public support and donations in order to further ACT's mission.
As of March 2014, ACT has granted 665 million yen (approximately US$6.54 million) for over 570 projects in total since 1979. Recipient countries include the following: the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. For the past several years, ACT has been providing grants to around 40 projects, amounting to between 35 million yen and 45 million yen (approximately US$340,000 to US$440,000) annually. ACC21 staff also advises grant recipients and promotes networking not only among themselves but also with Japanese donors and other NGOs.
Imai Memorial Charitable Trust for Overseas Cooperation
The Imai Memorial Charitable Trust for Overseas Cooperation was established in 1977 as the first charitable trust in Japan by Mr. Yasutaro Imai, a successful wholesaler of fabrics, with an endowment of 200million yen (approximately US$2.24 millon). Mr. Imai was thrifty with his money in both his private life and business and had a strong belief that capital gains should eventually be returned to society. Before passing away in March 2002, using the proceeds of his assets Mr. Imai set up 11 charitable trusts at the (then) eight trust banks in Japan, including an initial endowment to the ACT.
By the end of March 2014, Imai Trust had supported more than 340 projects in Asian countries with a focus on the Southeast Asian region with a total amount of 327 million yen (approximately US$3,210,000). The Trust originally started to financially support projects implemented by various NGOs in the Asian region involved in education, medicine and healthcare, and disaster relief activities. Since 2001, however, due to Mr. Imai's strong concern in regards to reinforcing Japanese NGOs engaged in overseas assistance in Asia, the Southeast Asia region in particular, the emphasis was shifted to Japanese NGOs operating development projects in this region. An average of 8 million yen (approximately US$90,000) is provided to eight to ten projects each year.
ACC21, as in the case of ACT, serves as the Secretariat of the Imai Trust for Overseas Cooperation. The staff in charge collate project proposals, interview applicants, present proposals and other necessary documents to the Executive Advisory Committee of the Trust Bank for discussion and selection of grantees, monitor and evaluate the progress and results of the grant projects. The staff in charge also gives necessary advice to grantees.
J. Kawakami Memorial Trust for Overseas Education and Culture
In 1978, the J. Kawakami Memorial Trust for Overseas Education and Culture was set up by Ms. Mitsue Kawakami in memory of her late father Mr. Jinzo Kawakami, a prominent businessman in the metals industry. The endowment was 55 million yen (approximately US$ 616,000). The Trust aims to contribute to promoting education and youth development, and the preservation of indigenous and traditional culture in the Asian region. An average of 1.3 million yen (approximately US$15,000) is given to two Asian NGOs annually.
ACC21, again, serves as the Secretariat of the Executive Advisory Committee of the Trust and extends the same services as with ACT.
Community-based Pre-school Education in Cambodia
ACC21 also serves as an intermediary organization for Japanese donors seeking beneficiary partners in other countries in Asia. Following a request by Tokyo Seinan Rotary Club in Tokyo who were interested in supporting children in Cambodia, ACC21 introduced a local NGO called "Assistance to Poor Children's Agency (APCA)", located in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, as its project implementing partner. APCA, in close collaboration with respective villagers, has been promoting "community kindergartens" for poor children so that children can develop a foundation for learning and be equipped with at least the minimum knowledge and skills before entering primary schools. Community kindergartens are run by communities at the village level and APCA provides them with technical inputs and monitors their activities. Since 2007, ACC21 has been channeling donated funds from Tokyo Seinan Rotary Club to APCA for the four community kindergartens in Pang Lavea Commune, Odung District, Kompong Speu Province.
To ensure sustainability of these kindergartens, ACC21 raised additional funds from a Japanese individual to support children's mothers to raise chicken so that they can earn an income to cover salaries of kindergarten teachers and other necessary costs, which will lead the community kindergarten to being financially independent in the future.
Promoting microfinance (MF) is another important flow of capital from those that have to those that have not. In order to raise interest and promote depositing/investing in MF institutions in Asian countries, ACC21 initiated and, with the financial support of the Global Citizen Foundation, conducted a three-year MF promotion project. Starting in 2006, ACC21 conducted surveys on MF and related institutions in the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam, and also organized study tours for those Japanese interested in MF to the Philippines in 2006 and 2008. In 2007, ACC21 also held a public conference on MF in Yokohama in cooperation with Junior Chamber International Japan, which a representative of a leading Philippine MF institution joined as a keynote speaker.
Based on the above experiences, ACC21 currently provides information and advises in regards to enquiries on MF in Asia, particularly in the above three countries, and plans to continue conducting MF study tours to these countries for years to come.
(*The rate of exchange used in this report: US1dollar equivalent to 89.22yen as of July 15, 2010 )