(Image Credit: Copyright World Economic Forum Photo by Natalie Behring)
Full Name: Jack Ma (Ma Yun)
Date of Birth: 1964 in China
Nationality: China; residence: Hangzhou
Net Worth: US$ 28.8 billion
Source of Wealth: self-made, industry: e-commerce
Education: BA (English) from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute + MA (Business) from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
Career: Founder of Alibaba
Political Position: Uncertain
In His Own Words:
We want to enchant the government, but we don’t want to marry it. (The Japan Times)
Ma is a member of China’s national legislature body, thus he is actively involved in the preparation of a five-year plan (Fortune).
Jack Ma was part of the group of Chinese businessmen who accompanied Party leader Xi Jinping on his first formal state visit to the United States (The Epoch Times).
Through Alibaba Group, Ma is advocating the inclusion of the idea of giving to society into business. The company provides a platform for charitable organizations to set up storefronts and engage volunteers. Merchants and consumers can also contribute through giving a certain percentage of their sales to charities and through participating in charity auctions.
Alibaba’s Global Philanthropy Conference in 2016 was attended by over a thousand well-known philanthropists, including names such as Ban Ki-moon (U.N. Secretary General), Gordon Brown (former U.K. Prime Minister), Salman Khan (founder and CEO of Khan Academy), Yao Ming (founder of Yao Ming Foundation) and Jet Li (founder of the One Foundation) (Forbes).
Jack Ma’s opinion on business is very well respected.
He is the owner of private think tank Ali Research that was initially established to deal with issues of internet governance and legislation, but is also active in matters of economic and industrial policy. It has considerable influence globally and some influence domestically, but pro-government think tanks have more direct access to decision makers (Fortune).
Ma established the Alibaba Foundation in 2011 with share options for about 2% of Alibaba’s equity, amounting to $2.4 billion in 2015. In January 2016, these trusts were worth nearly $3.5 billion. In 2015, he donated $20 million to charity (Forbes).
Jack Ma is the only Chinese billionaire who has donated to four different causes including education, environment, social welfare, and disaster relief. To read about China’s most generous, read the Harvard Kennedy School’s report on China’s Most Generous.
The following are examples of his donations from Forbes:
• $5 million Alibaba donation in 2009 to introduce Grameen Foundation to China and to provide loans in Mongolia and the Sichuan earthquake zone.
• $2.9 billion donation in share options in 2014 to social welfare causes and education to his university, Alibaba Global Leadership Academy.