New Delhi, 23 June 2023 – AVPN, the largest network of social investors in Asia, announced today the launch of a USD 3 million Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund (the “Fund”) at the AVPN Global Conference 2023. The Fund is the first philanthropic pooled fund that focuses on youth mental wellbeing across Southeast Asia and South Asia. Yayasan Hasanah, the foundation of Khazanah Nasional, the Malaysian government’s sovereign wealth fund, will support AVPN to catalyse private sector support towards this important cause in Malaysia. Additionally, the Fund has received the support of Chevron and other organisations.
The Fund was launched at the AVPN Global Conference 2023 by Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Hannah Yeoh, who highlighted the importance of mental health in Asia, “It is crucial that we take action to address the mental health crisis our youths face, and help them overcome challenges in their developmental years. I am thrilled to witness AVPN launching this greatly needed Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund with local and regional funders to address these challenges across Asia, including Malaysia.”
The pressing urgency to tackle mental wellbeing challenges among youths has led to the creation of the Fund. Mental health is the second largest contributor to years of healthy life lost to disability in Asia, but barriers to treatment persist due to systemic issues, lack of accurate data and monitoring, and funding disparities. AVPN recognises the negative effects of mental health challenges on youth’s wellbeing and economy, highlighting the importance of early intervention for future wellbeing.
Unlike conventional funds, the AVPN Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund will put youths at the centre of the grant disbursement decision-making process. Adopting a ‘for youths, by youths’ mindset, the Fund will be forming a committee of experts – of which will comprise young impact leaders – to identify needs on the ground across Asia, and evaluate the quality of applications that come in.
AVPN plans to raise USD 3 million to support scalable and effective solutions in Southeast and South Asia over the next three years. The partnership between AVPN and Yayasan Hasanah will further enhance the reach and effectiveness of the Fund in addressing mental health issues among young people in the region.
Dato’ Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Trustee and Managing Director of Yayasan Hasanah said, “Our hope is to enable youths in Malaysia to realise their full potential and this includes addressing important issues to them such as mental health. As the convenor, collaborator, and catalyst for change in the social impact sector in Malaysia, we look forward to making a difference for our youths in partnership with a social investor network like AVPN, which has a global reach and an Asian impact focus.”
The Fund intends to achieve the following objectives:
- Support and foster scalable and effective solutions formulated by credible, robust nonprofit organisations
- Unite a community of funders that bring scale and sustainability to a common portfolio
- Reduce barriers faced by youths in achieving mental wellbeing
“Youth mental wellbeing is a complex, multigenerational challenge and it is a pressing need across our region,” says Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO of AVPN. “It is important that we take a collaborative approach in tackling this issue. The AVPN Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund will not only unite a community of funders towards this common goal, but will also bring together diverse experts who can share best practices and ensure the right resources are being efficiently deployed to selected non-profit organisations.”
The AVPN Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund will focus on the Southeast and South Asia’s mental wellbeing ecosystems by funding innovative impact organisations that address mental wellbeing conditions among young people. With the experience of building trust-based philanthropy models in Asia, AVPN plans to provide unrestricted funding and non-financial support to non-profit organisations. This not only helps build trust between funders and grantees, but also lends a stronger voice to grantees; instead of prescribing how funds are to be used, the Fund will empower grantees to have the autonomy to grow and innovate around their emergent needs.
The call for applications for the AVPN Asian Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund will open in September 2023. AVPN encourages innovative non-profit organisations and social enterprises to apply for the Fund and help make a difference in the mental wellbeing of youth in the region.