In 2008, the ASEAN Foundation partnered with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to implement the “Network of ASEAN Corporate Foundations” project. As part of the project, a meeting was organized in Singapore in November 2008 among corporate foundations, CSR practitioners and other stakeholders in conjunction with the annual AIM Asian Forum on CSR. During the meeting, there was a consensus that a regional network for CSR would be beneficial for the development of CSR in the region. A number of organizations expressed their support for the formation of the regional network by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the ASEAN Foundation and AIM.
Inspired by the positive response among ASEAN organizations, the ASEAN Foundation resolved to continue its efforts to catalyze the formation of a regional network for CSR. It found in CSR Europe a model that the ASEAN network could possibly be patterned after. Hence, it sought the support of the League of Corporate Foundations, Philippines to develop a project that would facilitate the development of the ASEAN network by learning from the experience of CSR Europe and the existing CSR and business networks in the region. Through a series of workshops, focus group discussions and consultation meetings, a proposed framework has been developed for the formalization of the regional network.
In 8 December 2010, the ASEAN CSR Network (ACN) was established with support from the ASEAN Foundation and the Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund, in line with the achievement of an ASEAN Community in 2015. Under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community blueprint, a document signed by all of ASEAN’s heads of states, ‘Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ is identified as an integral strategy in ensuring sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in ASEAN.
In 11 January 2011, ACN was inauration and its secretariat managed the operations of the organisation. As a regional organisation, ACN provides a platform for networking and cooperation at the ASEAN level, supports capacity-building and training activities, helps to rally collective action on key issues, and provides a link with regional and international bodies interested in supporting the advancement of CSR in the region.
Six founding organisations – from five of the 10 ASEAN members-states plus the ASEAN Foundation – signed off on the Network’s framework and have agreed to work together for the advancement of CSR in ASEAN. A short-term priority of the Network is to achieve representation in all 10 ASEAN-member countries, as well as expanding participation in each country. Since its inception, chambers in Vietnam and Myanmar have joined the Network, expanding representation to seven out of 10 ASEAN member-states.
In 2014, ACN obtained charity status as an International Charitable Organisation (ICO) with effect from 1 July 2014 and in 2017, ACN received its accreditation as an ASEAN accredited entity.