Jack Ma’s recent coming out celebration on the New York Stock Exchange, floating Alibaba at an estimated US$25 billion, has made him the wealthiest person on the Chinese mainland. He, along with a handful of China’s uber-rich, have the potential to use their vast sums of money for charitable causes. They are the Gates’, Buffets’, and Soros’ of the East.
While these star philanthropists garner well-deserved attention for their work, there are many more low-profile people working behind the scenes to impact China’s public sector. These players may not have the capital of people like Jack Ma, but they do have an equal passion for making this a better world. This series, Profiles in Responsibility, gives these passionate folks a wider voice.
Recently interviewed by the BBC, Taiwanese vegetable seller Chen Shu Chu lives by the mantra that “…the most important thing is how you spend your money not how much you earn.” The 63 year old has donated 10 million Taiwanese dollars over the past 20 years. This is equal to US$330,000, which Chen raised working 18 hours a day, 6 days a week at her local market vegetable stall. While not a huge sum of money on paper, her donations equal nearly 100% of her annual earnings. The top philanthropists in the U.S. only donate between 30% and 40% of their net worth each year, making Chen’s contributions especially notable. She earns an annual salary equivalent to US$16,848, and has donated an average of US$16,450 each year. She even says that she spends no more than three Taiwanese dollars (about USD.10) on herself everyday.
Her donations go directly to schools, hospitals, orphanages, and the Buddhist community in her area. She even wants to promote a sense of philanthropy among others, particularly the younger generation, prompting her to agree to the BBC interview.
The most revealing part is Chen’s emotional attachment to donating money. “It makes me so happy that I smile when I go to bed. Money is only useful if you give it to people who need it.” What a way to live, and what an inspiration to others.
The full video can be viewed below.