ASEAN CSR Fellowship

2018     2017     


The ASEAN CSR Fellowship seeks to build up the next generation of ambassadors for responsible business in Southeast Asia, harnessing the potential of the private sector in addressing key regional issues in anti-corruption, environmental degradation and human rights. The Fellowship is part of ACN’s ongoing efforts to help practitioners re-define CSR, away from its misconception that it is just corporate philanthropy and volunteerism, towards the business responsibility to look beyond their bottom line and consider the social and environmental implications of their activities. The attention is shifted from how businesses spend money (charity) to how the money is made.

A small team of high-potential individuals will be selected from business, government and civil society, to be equipped with in-depth theoretical and practical concepts in responsible business. The year-long journey will take Fellows to 3 countries across ASEAN, spending 5 days each in Singapore/Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Covering the full spectrum of ASEAN member states with varying levels of economic development, the Fellowship starts at the heart of ASEAN’s business activity in Singapore/Malaysia, before heading to the emerging economy of Myanmar and the manufacturing hub of Vietnam. Each week spent in the different countries will feature a series of study tours to meet top business leaders, government representatives, academics and civil society practitioners. Modules will also feature deep-dive topics, delving into difficult issues such as the rights of migrant workers, labour standards in the garment industry and responsible investment. The learning objective is to build an understanding of CSR as it applies across ASEAN, comparing the different experiences in the 3 countries visited.

As ASEAN continues to face a variety of complex national and regional issues, the Fellowship hopes to deepen cross-border perspectives, and unite a new generation of CSR leaders in our common goal towards regional sustainable development.


Conversations with 'giants' in CSR

Throughout the programme, Fellows will be connected to top industry, government and civil society leaders who are champions of CSR – an invaluable opportunity to build a professional network for years to come.

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Benefit from an alumni network

Upon graduation, Fellows will join an alumni network of past and present Fellows, and maintain constant contact through informal and formal meetups, sharing resources and online platforms. By nurturing an alumni of leading CSR practitioners, the Fellowship aims to sow seeds for the transformation of the business landscape in Southeast Asia into one that recognises not just profits, but also people and the planet.

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Benefit from workshops with candid discussions

In 2017, ACN conducted workshops for the Fellowship covering topics on:

  • Sustainability reporting
  • CSR buzzwords and trends
  • Supply chain mapping
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Dilemmas in ethical decision-making
  • Crony-capitalism and responsible public procurement

Similar workshops will be held for the 2018 programme.



"My key takeaway from this program is that when it comes to doing good and doing well, the work never stops. As a young CSR practitioner, this journey opened my eyes to stark realities - great challenges that we all face, whichever sector we are in, whichever country we are at. But more importantly, what I realized is that the opportunities are greater - way greater - than the challenges, only if we take on a positive and collaborative lens on how we want to see and do things. CSR is not just the business of businesses. It is the business of all of us - the private sector, the government, and the civil society. For CSR to gain more global relevance and become one of the vehicles to attain sustainable development, it has to be collaborative, aggressive, and ever-changing. This is something I definitely want to impress to my colleagues when I get back home - that as CSR practitioners, we must continue to make ourselves relevant, no matter how successful we think our program already are. Innovate if we must and change if necessary. And particularly for Southeast Asia, allow me to borrow the words of Prime Minister Najib Razak in one of his speeches: we need to complete each other, not compete with each other" - Michelle Ong, Metrobank Foundation (Philippines), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

"Since I’m not from the private sector and have very limited background knowledge on how businesses operate in general, this fellowship really provided me with the opportunity to learn about different industries – not just in theory but also in practice. I realized that CSR really requires cooperation and that multi-stakeholder dialogues is an essential factor to create the common ground." - Vanida Khouangvichit, Village Focus International (Laos), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

"Like other fellows, I return to my home country after each module with a lot of publications in our luggage and ideas in our head. What I appreciate from the fellowship is not only the overview of CSR initiatives in ASEAN, but also the unique chance to witness how things are progressing at the national and local level in the countries that we've been to. This broadens my perspectives and helps in my future engagements in the field." - Dung Tien, IFC-ILO Joint Programme on Better Work (Vietnam), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

 "The ASEAN CSR Fellowship has been very useful in helping me gain a deeper understanding of what sustainability and CSR is. Through the various dialogues with high-level business executives, government representatives and subject matter experts, we were able to obtain first-hand accounts of the opportunities and challenges of building a more sustainable and inclusive eco-system. One of the greatest take-aways for me from the programme is that every country faces similar difficulties in engaging companies, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to embark on sustainable business practices. I would look to leverage on the knowledge and contacts acquired from the programme to facilitate, bridge and deepen the CSR participation and involvement of companies in Singapore." - Quek Shiyun, National Volunteer Philanthropy Centre (Singapore), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

"The most important thing I have learned from this Fellowship is a better understanding of the business evolution towards CSR in ASEAN. From my own perspective of environmental management, I have learned a useful approach of approaching environmental issues from a human rights perspective when working with business partners. I think I am now able to provide more practical advice to our business partners about what CSR activities that are relevant to their business value chain." - Thi Bich Hien, International Union for Conservation of Nature (Vietnam), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

"I was exposed to best practices across the region on responsible practices that can definitely be implemented in the organization I am with, or future projects that I plan to take. I also got the chance to meet outstanding people who have done excellent work in the region, inspiring me to embark go further in my journey. Coming from the private sector, meeting different people had also given me completely new perspectives to view various issues and solutions." - Aji Paramartha, KPMG (Indonesia), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017

"I would highly recommend the Fellowship to anyone interested. The fellowship opens a huge door of knowledge – including challenges and opportunities, and inspire a hope that a strong ASEAN can move ahead, despite diverse local contexts. There are also opportunities for mentorship, as alumni can become mentors for the new batch of Fellows." - Vo Ly Vinh, Coca-Cola (Vietnam), ASEAN CSR Fellowship 2017



The ASEAN CSR Fellowship is kindly supported by:

    Foreign and Commonwealth Office Logo.svg     Sweden

    Logo NYC 1


Duration & Locations

3 weeks over a 1-year duration

The ASEAN CSR Fellowship is not a full-time fellowship. Fellows will remain in their occupations throughout the year while participating in the program modules.

The fellowship is comprised of 3 modules. Fellows will meet 3 times a year in the following countries:

  • Online course: Feb 2018
  • Module 1: Malaysia (5 days, 5-9 Mar 2018)
  • Module 2: Vietnam (5 days, 2-6 Jul 2018)
  • Module 3: Myanmar (5 days, 1-5 Oct 2018)

Size of Cohort

 15-30 fellows

(Subject to quality of applications received)

Application Criteria
  • National citizen of any of the 10 ASEAN member states
  • Mid-career professionals in business, government, civil society or other relevant sectors, with a demonstrable passion in, and commitment to, advancing a career in CSR.
  • 25 to 45 years old
  • Strong command of the English language, as the course will be taught only in English


Course fees: SGD 5,000 (excluding flights and accomodation)

Scholarships are available and will be offered to top applicants


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Online Feb 2018 "Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice" by Nottingham University Business School
Module 1 5-9 Mar 2018
(5 days)
Module 2 2-6 Jul 2018
(5 days)
Module 3 1-5 Oct 2018
(5 days)



The following main topics will be covered over the 3 modules through classroom sessions, workshops, site visits and talks:

The business case for CSR – Why should businesses even bother?

What is the business case for responsible business?

In today's changing landscape, are there increasing demands from external stakeholders - consumers, investors, employees, media - for ethical business?

What are the international standards which can serve as guides for stakeholders to act?

Human rights

What are the key human rights issues caused by business activity in this region? (e.g. poor labour standards, forced labour, poor treatment of migrant workers, land-grabbing, contamination of community resources, marginalization of vulnerable groups such as indigenous groups, women and children)

Which industries are most susceptible to lapses in human rights?

How do problems like forced labour practices inadvertently enter the supply chain? 

Corporate governance

How can we dispel the myth that corruption is part of the business culture in this region?

How can businesses improve compliance systems and uphold business integrity amid pressures?

Environmental sustainability

What are the key challenges and opportunities in environmental protection by the private sector?

What are the best practices in Sustainability Reporting?

The private sector’s role in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) What role do businesses have to play in sustainable development, if this is commonly seen as a responsibility of governments and civil society? How can businesses help to address some of ASEAN's key issues?

The ASEAN landscape

Gain insight into the work of ASEAN and its ongoing efforts to tackle regional issues


Introduction of key CSR tools and concepts ISO 26000, GRI Guidelines, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Please click here for the Fellowship held in 2017, which will give you a good understanding of how the 2018 programme will be conducted.



Partial scholarships funded by the Governments of Sweden and UK will be offered to top applicants, with a particular preference for applicants from the less developed countries in ASEAN.

Fellows will have to bear the cost of 3 return flights on their own, while all other components of the programme will be covered by the partial scholarship.

The number of scholarships offered will depend on the quality of applications received, though up to 15 scholarships were offered in 2017.

Applicants should state if they are keen to be considered for the scholarship, as stated in the application guidelines.


Total course fees are SGD 5,000 (excluding flight and accomodation)

The full cost of the programme is as follows:

Course fees: SGD 5,000
Flights*: SGD 400 x 3 times a year = SGD 1,200 (estimated)
Accommodation*: SGD 100 per night x 6 nights x 3 countries = SGD 1,800 (estimated)

Total: Approximately SGD 8,000

*Fellows who would like to reduce costs may book their own flights & accommodation


The Fellowship will be conducted with the support of resource persons / institutions in government, business, academic and civil society sectors. Resource contributors of the ASEAN CSR Fellowship in 2018 included:

Country Partners

International Chamber of Commerce (Malaysia)

Prime Minister’s Department

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Malaysia

National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

British High Commission

Ministry of Transport Malaysia

UN Global Compact Malaysia

Bursa Malaysia

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC)

CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI)

Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad

Transparency International Malaysia

Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center)

Coalition for Business Integrity

Sime Darby Plantation Berhad

Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd

Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC)

SME Corp

University of Malaya

National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO)

Society for the Promotion of Human Rights in Malaysia (PROHAM)




Mansoor Saat, Siti Kasim & Associates


For resource contributors of the ASEAN CSR Fellowship in 2017, please click here.





15 Dec 2017 Applications for scholarships close
15 Dec – 31 Jan 2018 Skype Interviews
Selection of candidates for scholarship
31 Jan 2018 All selected candidates for scholarship informed
22 Feb 2018 Applications for non-scholarship applicants close


Application guidelines can be found here.