Paving the Way
For our 14th annual philanthropy roundup, we sifted through dozens of candidates to compile a list of 15 altruists committed to issues facing the Asia-Pacific. Some of the biggest donors this year were tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. Several were prompted to build hospitals, provide protective equipment or fund medical research. Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, for example, channeled HK$250 million ($32 million) into various forms of aid through his foundation, including HK$100 million to communities in Wuhan—the epicenter of the outbreak in China. Fast Retailing chief Tadashi Yanai gave ¥11.2 billion ($105 million) to two universities in Japan, to facilitate research on diseases and to develop vaccines for the virus.
But pandemic relief wasn’t the only focus this year. Other honorees dedicated themselves to causes such as the arts and education. Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, donated $77 million alongside his charity to fund Covid-19 relief, as well as educational scholarships and healthcare programs around his country.
This year’s list encompasses entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific committed to causes in the region. Our goal is to capture individual philanthropists who are donating from their personal fortunes. Thus the list doesn’t include donations made by companies of Asia’s richest tycoons (unless the giving was made through a privately held company in which they are the majority owners). As in previous years, we don’t include fundraisers or heads of nonprofits, though they play a critical role. Forbes Asia narrows in on the names with the financial capital to put their stamp on issues of importance.
PHAM NHAT VUONG
AGE: 52 • VIETNAM
Pham Nhat Vuong founded the Kind Heart Foundation in 2006, which gave away $77 million in the first nine months of the year. The funds were directed largely to helping needy people in Vietnam and included scholarships for underprivileged children and free healthcare for those unable to afford it. The foundation also built homes, health centers, libraries and infrastructure for low-income communities, and provided natural-disaster relief. Separately, his Vingroup spent $55 million on various Covid-19 causes, such as providing ventilators and other equipment to healthcare organizations. Vietnam’s richest man founded and is majority owner of the diversified Vingroup, which focuses on automaking, property and technology. —L. A.N
Chairman, Fast Retailing
AGE: 71 • JAPAN
Japan’s richest man, whose apparel giant Fast Retailing owns the Uniqlo clothing chain, gave ¥11.2 billion ($105 million) to two of the country’s universities over the past year. In June, Yanai donated ¥10 billion to Kyoto University to support research led by Nobel laureates Tasuku Honjo and Shinya Yamanaka focusing on cancer immunotherapy, stem cells and a coronavirus vaccine. “The biggest challenges in medicine are cancer and viruses,” Yanai said at a news conference to announce the gift. “The two professors’ medical studies will contribute to the whole world.” Last November, Yanai donated ¥1.2 billion to his alma mater, Waseda University, to build the Murakami library. It is dedicated to Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (a fellow alumnus), and will house books and materials donated by the author. —J.K.
Senior Advisor, CK Asset Holdings and CK Hutchison Holdings
AGE: 92 • HONG KONG
Late last year, the Hong Kong tycoon donated HK$1 billion ($129 million) in relief funds for local businesses hit hard by the city’s political unrest. Hong Kong was in a recession even before the pandemic struck as protests rocked the city for much of last year. The Li Ka Shing Foundation says the money went to over 28,000 small and midsized firms in the F&B, retail and travel sectors. Since the outset of the Covid-19 outbreak, the foundation has given away more than HK$250 million in masks and protective gear to hospitals, medical schools and the underprivileged. —J.K.
Honorary Chairman, GS Caltex
AGE: 77 • SOUTH KOREA
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