DevEx Highlights Asia Foundation Program Director in Nepal on Gaps in USAID Localization Policies

April 3, 2024 — DevEx, a media platform for the international development community, features the Foundation’s USAID CSM Program director in Nepal, Ajay Das, on the gap between USAID’s policy intentions and the actual inclusion of local voices in decision-making processes.

“As a result of these barriers, there is limited awareness among local and national actors about USAID policies,” the report continued. Many survey respondents “were not aware that policies were available for feedback and those that were aware had learned through international NGOs or social media.”


Ajay Das, a Nepal-based program director at The Asia Foundation, agreed. He felt there was limited awareness among both the foundation and other local partners about USAID policies, and the fact that organizations could contribute to their drafting.


Despite that, things do seem to be changing. USAID’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy — which guides how the agency should invest in local partners’ capacity — was published after a three-year-long process, one that included 11 focus groups, a public comment period that gathered 600 pages of feedback, and a lengthy analysis period.

The Asia Foundation and University of Delhi Join Forces to Enhance Women with Digital Skills Through Skills2Work Initiative

March 14, 2024 — Dainik Jagran, an Indian Hindi language newspaper, showcases the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed between The Asia Foundation and the University of Dehli to build digital proficiency and job readiness for its students. Utilizing the Visa-supported program Skills2Work, The Asia Foundation will partner with the university to skill 1,500 women each to enhance their digital literacy and financial management.

Nandita Baruah, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, shared her excitement about the collaboration, stating, “We are delighted to embark on this journey with NCWEB, University of Delhi, to empower young women through education and skills training. Together, we aim to address the challenges of inclusivity and dignified job roles for women, unlocking new opportunities for growth and development.”

This MoU signing ceremony not only cements the relationship between NCWEB, the University of Delhi, and The Asia Foundation but also lays the groundwork for future collaborative efforts aimed at making a lasting and sustainable impact on communities and empowering women through education and skill development.

The Skills2Work initiative addresses the gap between available talent and the increasing market demand. The program aims to prepare individuals to re-enter the workforce by equipping them with essential skills for in-demand roles in the digital economy.

Skills2Work is part of The Asia Foundation’s Future Skills Alliance – a broad coalition of partners working together to deliver future skills at scale.

Visit the Skills2Work and Future Skills Alliance websites for more information.

e27 Features Go Digital ASEAN’s Impact on Leveling the Digital Playing Field

March 14, 2024 — e27, Asia’s largest Tech media platform, highlights the success of the Foundation’s supported Go Digital ASEAN program in leveling the digital playing field for women entrepreneurs. 

While the digital economy teems with potential, women entrepreneurs must possess the skills to fully harness those opportunities for business growth. This is the driving force behind impactful initiatives like The Asia Foundation’s Go Digital ASEAN program, supported by Google’s philanthropy, in training over 140,000 entrepreneurs to date, with 60 per cent of women from underserved communities.

It recognises that digital literacy isn’t one-size-fits-all. By offering tailored training in business, finance, marketing, cybersecurity, and sustainability, women at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey gain the tools for sustained growth.

Go Digital ASEAN is an initiative under the Future Skills Alliance, a broad coalition of partners from both the public and private sectors working together to deliver future skills at scale to the region’s most marginalized.

APEC Highlights Go Digital ASEAN in Digital Skills Development Report for Asia-Pacific

February 23, 2024 — The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) spotlights The Asia Foundation’s Go Digital ASEAN initiative as a case study in the report “Enhance the Cross-Border Development of Skilled Professionals across the APEC Region.” The report emphasizes the urgent need for skilled professions in Asia and the Pacific and showcases ongoing skills development initiatives that address this need.

Read the full report.

The Go Digital ASEAN initiative broadens digital skills participation across the region, reaching individuals and communities with the most to gain from digital literacy—from farmers and home-based handicraft producers to small-scale hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Endorsed by the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the project is implemented by The Asia Foundation with funding from, Google’s philanthropic arm.

The Asia Foundation and Partnership Featured in Coverage of APAC Cybersecurity Fund in Sri Lanka

February 20, 2024 — DailyFT, a Sri Lankan business and financial news outlet, highlights the APAC Cybersecurity Fund in its coverage of The Asia Foundation and its partners’ program initiatives in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, which ranked 81st out of 175 countries in 2020’s National Cyber Security Index, scoring especially low in protection for digital and essential services, the program aims to reach up to 5,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) covering 10,000 individuals. Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka, Dinesha De Silva highlights the essential nature of the program.
“In the context of Sri Lanka’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it is imperative to recognise the critical role of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises as both the drivers of innovation and economic growth, and as prime targets for cyber threats. The alarming rate at which a significant number of MSMEs are falling victim to malicious cyber-attacks cannot be overlooked, highlighting the urgent necessity to enhance their cyber defences. It is not just a strategic necessity, but a critical national investment to empower these enterprises with comprehensive cyber security education and awareness,” De Silva said., Google’s philanthropic arm, is providing $15M to The Asia Foundation to launch the APAC Cybersecurity Fund in partnership with CyberPeace Institute and Global Cyber Alliance to bolster cyber capabilities of 300,000 underserved micro and small businesses, nonprofits, and social enterprises. Working with implementing organizations and universities across the region, The Asia Foundation aims to equip local communities and students via upskilling tools and cyber clinics to protect against online risks. The initiative will span 13 locations, including Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Devpolicy Spotlights Laurel Miller’s Remarks on AI’s Implications for International Development

December 19, 2023 — Australian National University’s Devpolicy Blog highlights Asia Foundation President Laurel Miller’s 2023 Australasian Aid Conference closing remarks on the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) for the international development sector. In her speech, Miller articulates key points of concern related to AI in developing countries, including technological asymmetry, heightened inequality, data privacy, and the future of work. While recognizing the impact of AI, she also emphasizes its potential to address pressing development challenges and actions those in the development sector can take to address its implications. 

The Australasian Aid Conference (AAC) is an annual event co-hosted by The Asia Foundation and the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University at the Crawford School of Public Policy in Canberra. For nine years, the Australasian Aid Conference has united researchers from Australia, the Pacific, and beyond who specialize in aid and international development policy to facilitate knowledge sharing, foster collaborative efforts, and enhance development in the community.

We will need to make considered judgments about when AI tools are the best choice, mindful of the potential for biased outcomes and other negative consequences. We will need to support the development of local technical and regulatory capacity, recognising the critical need for people whose understanding of context and culture matches their technical acumen. Our support should include reflection on ethical issues and responsible practices. In the realm of AI governance, we will need to help develop responsible policy and regulatory capacity in the countries we work in. 

Read Miller’s full remarks. 

Learn more about our work to harness the potential of AI with our “AI Perspectives from Asia” initiative with Stanford University.

The New York Times Covers Local Partner HAkA’s Women Forest Defenders

November 30, 2023 — The New York Times highlighted The Asia Foundation’s local partner in Indonesia, HAkA, for their efforts to protect, conserve, and restore the Leuser Ecosystem using a women-led forest defender initiative. Through our environmental governance unit, the Foundation supports HAkA to empower women traditionally excluded from forest protection. This support equips them with essential tools to engage in conservation, restoration, and the community governance efforts necessary to uphold the initiative.

Even though, most often, women are the ones who feel the direct impact from environmental loss and climate change, there was a lot of resistance when we brought up the idea of creating a women ranger team,” said Rubama, a community conservation officer for the Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh Foundation, which funds the ranger initiative. “Women are often left out and not allowed to do many roles in Aceh, especially at the village level.

The Gioi Vietnam Highlights President Laurel Miller’s Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang

November 13, 2023 — The Gioi Vietnam, a news media site, covered The Asia Foundation’s President & CEO Laurel Miller’s Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang. Their discussions included the value of nongovernmental organizations in Vietnam and future collaboration on energy transition, climate change response, digital inclusion, and community capacity building. The deputy minister also acknowledged the Foundation’s twenty-year commitment to the country’s development. Learn more about our work in Vietnam. 

The Deputy Minister said that work with foreign non-governmental organizations is an important part of Vietnam’s overall development and foreign affairs, receiving attention from the Government, creating conditions for organizations to operate favorably in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam recognizes the positive contributions of non-governmental organizations, including TAF, which have contributed to helping solve problems in the community, improving the material and spiritual life of the people as well as helping to solve problems in the community.

Asia Times Features Review of ‘Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future’

September 19, 2023 — Asia Times highlights a book review by Southeast Asia regional security expert Benjamin Zawacki, focusing on “Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: Averting a New Cold War.” The book is authored by Thomas Parks, the Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in Thailand.

A century ago, American humorist Robert Benchley quipped that there are “two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not.” Thomas Parks does not.

In a new book, “Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: Averting a New Cold War” (Bloomsbury), Parks challenges those who divide the Indo-Pacific into two poles – one Chinese, the other American – and who argue, therefore, that Southeast Asia must divide the bulk of its attention between them. Instead of two poles, he sees many.

For even more about “Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: Averting a New Cold War,” listen to our interview with Thomas Parks and Ambassador Scot Marciel on the InAsia podcast.

Singapore’s MoneyFM 89.3 Explores Go Digital ASEAN’s Impact on MSMEs and Underserved Communities

September 8, 2023 — Singapore’s MoneyFM 89.3 features Go Digital ASEAN in an interview with The Asia Foundation’s Mehreen Tanvirand and‘s Marija Ralic. They spoke with with Saturday Mornings‘ Glenn van Zutphen and Neil Humphreys on how Go Digital ASEAN is supporting and training micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and underserved communities in digital skilling and green business. 

Listen to the full interview: 

Learn more about our Go Digital ASEAN program