APC is now four years old and have moved from the toddler to pre-schooler stage.
Hence, we go back to school. This past six months saw two learning journeys – one to Cambodia to learn about social entrepreneurship and another to the US to learn about from the best practices in both global and grassroots giving. These trips are not just to pick up technical know-hows, but also to learning about one another, to forge trust and bonds that are critical ingredients for collaboration.
Learning is also through members interest groups. I led one this past year on early childhood development. We have learnt from the most compelling regional models addressing the access and affordability of services by low income families. We grabbed the opportunity to bring Jenny Bowen, founder of OneSky, to Singapore and Jakarta to inspire our members. And this has spurred another trip to Danang, Vietnam later this year to see their factory model, which is incidentally co-funded by two of our members.
The main learning point has been this: great models can be highly infectious. Apart from the OneSky model that has started to spread, our school leadership progamme in Malaysia has been followed on by a similar one in Indonesia. Called INSPIRASI, it will be launched on 18 July in Karawang Regency.
Our stunting programme in Indonesia has motivated several convenings of multiple stakeholders in Malaysia to address stunting in PPR flats (for low income households) in Kuala Lumpur. And our Filipino members are looking at a collaboration on ECD. Meanwhile, we continue to spread our capacity building work throughout the region – from philanthropy ecosystem building to global trade.
However, for cross infection to take place, we need a few ingredients. One, we need to have super infectors – change agents who are champions for the specific cause or project. They are the ones who exercise leadership – mobilising relevant stakeholders, aligning objectives and pushing for progress, especially when the going gets though. Two, we need people who do not have an immunity or allergy to collaboration. These people are open to new ideas, are prepared to disrupt the ways they are currently doing things and are willing to give up some control for the collective good.
Finally, APC believes not just in infecting our own community but also others outside. This is why we put APC Voices out there – to everyone who has a modicum of interest to hear from us. We hope you catch some of our bugs. But be warned of how contagious collaborative philanthropy can be.