Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On Indonesia

There is a growing acknowledgement that the social and economic disparities prevalent in Indonesian society, coupled with environmental and social challenges, requires the assistance of philanthropic initiatives to make a meaningful difference.

Almost half of all households in Indonesia live on the poverty line with more than 32 million people living below the poverty line. The gap between the rich and poor is a rapidly growing one. Compounding the country’s challenge around wealth inequality and posing an additional threat to the country’s long-term sustainability is environmental degradation. In the absence of institutional infrastructure and resources to address these challenges, philanthropic measures need to be directed and effective.

The Indonesian Philanthropy Association (PFI) was established as a non-profit, independent institution which aims to advance philanthropic initiatives in Indonesia in order to achieve social justice and sustainable development. It advances the interests of all stakeholders including funders, administrators and beneficiaries as it seeks solutions to social-humanitarian and environmental problems in Indonesia.

Historically, philanthropy in Indonesia has been conducted on an individual, direct basis. Self-made billionaire Indonesian billionaire, Dato’ Sri Dr Tahir, CEO of the Mayapada Group, was the first Indonesian to sign the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge which commits the world’s wealthiest people to donate at least half their fortune to charity. With an estimated US$ 2 billion fortune amassed from a business empire which includes interests in banking, retail, healthcare and media, amongst other, Tahir has long been a generous philanthropist, giving money to disadvantaged students and to fund medical research through the Tahir Foundation.

He made headlines in 2013 when signed away more than US$100 of his fortune in order to solve some of the country’s many public health problems. His donation was matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tahir was the first Indonesian private donor to be aligned with the Gates Foundation, in the process shifting his philanthropy to more public and strategic impact projects. The combined Tahir and Gates foundations invested US$206.5 million into public health projects over a five year period with initiatives focused on eradicating polio, fighting HIV, malaria and TB, and bolstering access to family planning tools.

Tahir has been quoted as saying that his goal has never been to be the richest person. He maintains that philanthropy is about setting an example, and that he wants to be inspiration for others to follow. As such, he has been instrumental in persuading other wealthy Asians to follow in his footsteps.

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