UBS Optimus Foundation launches first Singapore office
Foundation celebrates 20th anniversary in December, is only one linked to a global wealth manager
10 Dec 2019 | The Asset

The UBS Optimus Foundation has opened an office in Singapore to expand its philanthropic offerings to Asian clients. This will be the seventh office for the UBS Optimus Foundation, which also celebrated its 20th anniversary on December 5.

One of the world’s largest international donors in China, UBS Optimus Foundation is the only foundation linked to a global wealth manager. The Singapore office will engage UBS clients on philanthropic activities related to health, education and the protection of children, as well as sustainable and environmental causes.

“Philanthropy and sustainable investing are an increasing focus of our clients in the region, many of whom are seeking investment opportunities in sectors including healthcare, oncology and affordable education. A clear trend is emerging with 64% of family offices in Asia-Pacific expected to increase sustainable investments in 2020. By establishing an office in Singapore, we hope to continue to inspire the next generation of philanthropic leaders in Asia,” says August Hatecke, co-head, UBS Wealth Management Asia-Pacific and country head UBS Singapore. 

Desmond Kuek, Chairman of UBS Optimus Foundation Singapore, says, “We expect unprecedented amounts of wealth in Asia to be transferred across generations over the next 20 years. This will be a significant boost on philanthropy as many entrepreneurs are committed to using their wealth to create a legacy that has positive social impact. Singaporeans too are enthusiastic supporters of philanthropic projects, and Singapore was ranked seventh in the World Giving Index in 2018, up from 114th a few years ago.”

Globally, the UBS Optimus Foundation supports in excess of 200 programs, including in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines which, in aggregate, are worth more than 200 million Swiss francs (US$1.01 million). The foundation's Singapore office is its third in Asia, in addition to Hong Kong and Beijing.

 “The UBS Optimus Foundation is one of the largest international donors in China and today approximately 40% of our grant making is in Asia-Pacific, “adds Phyllis Costanza, head UBS Philanthropy and CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation.

 The UBS Optimus Foundation has a 20-year track record and, last year, raised 65 million Swiss francs and committed to 92 new programs across several tailored and collective portfolios reaching 2.8 million children.

UBS collaborates with many of the world’s wealthiest families to mobilize private wealth in an effort to resolve social and environmental problems. In 2015, the foundation launched the world's first development impact bond (DIB) in education, the Educate Girls Development Impact Bond, which facilitated the enrolment of out-of-school girls in Rajasthan, India.

The success of the inaugural DIB led to the launch last year of the Quality Education India DIB, which aims to improve the lives of 200,000 primary school children. UBS also supports Rural Education Action Program (REAP), China (Health) in the development of a replicable training and digital application to help rural doctors improve the diagnosis and treatment of children.

Through UBS’s global network, the foundation connects UBS clients with entrepreneurs, new technologies and models to achieve the UN Sustainable Development goals. By offering direct access to these networks, clients are able to tap into grant-making, practical support, and a community of like-minded peers. The UBS Optimus Foundation covers all administrative costs allowing 100% of donations to support program partners.

To mark the launch of the new office, UBS employees in Singapore raised in excess of S$100,000 (US$73,550) which, together with matching contributions from UBS, will fund the foundation's first program in Singapore. Working with the Halogen Foundation, this partnership supports their efforts in developing an impact measurement framework for youth programs which can offer longitudinal tracking to youth educators.

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