“Businessmen cannot be addicted to money. We should repay society. When I was in difficult situations, many people helped me, and now I hope to do my part to help those who need my hand.”
Mr. Chen Fenggan is chairman of Tiantai County Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. and Ningxia Shizuishan Great Elm Coal Production Company. Based in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Mr. Chen specializes in the industries of pharmaceuticals and mining. In 2005, Mr. Chen founded the Ningxia Chen Fenggan College Students Educational Foundation, which focuses on disadvantaged students in Ningxia and supports their going to college. The foundation is the first local foundation in Ningxia, and also the first private foundation established by entrepreneurs, blazing a new trail for the establishment of private foundations in China. Every year, Chen Fenggan donates USD 500,000 (RMB 3 million) to the foundation, prioritizing giving in the areas of social bene t, rural development, and education. Some of the foundation’s most notable gifts include a donation of USD 2 5 million (RMB 15 million) in 2007 for a senior apartment to provide better living conditions to the elderly given the severe aging problem in China, and a USD 8 million (RMB 50 million) gift in 2009 to build clothing factories from which profits would be used to support local education and to build schools as well as purchase teaching equipment. Since 2006, Mr. Chen has been recognized in the Top Ten Philanthropists in China for 10 consecutive years, the only philanthropist in China who has received this honor for so many years.
Mr. Chen was born into a rural family in Zhejiang Province and was forced out of school due to poverty when he was young. At the age of 18, he borrowed USD 16 (RMB 100) to start his first business. Later after several trials and errors in business, he ended up in Ningxia and started his business in the coal industry. He regards Ningxia as his second hometown.
With gratitude, Chen Fenggan has been engaged in philanthropy for years, particularly dedicated to building infrastructure and sponsoring poor students. He has conveyed the importance of giving back to society and of possessing a charitable spirit. In very simple and relatable terms, he has said, “Businessmen cannot be addicted to money. We should repay society. When I was in difficult situations, many people helped me, and now I hope to do my part to help those who need my hand.” He has also spoken out on everyone’s obligation to give by dismissing the belief that only the rich can engage in charity. With such belief, he strives to be “the most generous even if not the richest philanthropist.” Mr. Chen has said, “Charity’s value is the spirit of participation” and encourages more people to contribute to philanthropic causes.
The impact of Mr. Chen’s philanthropy is direct and can be readily seen. For example, every year in Ningxia, over 1,000 college students receive donations and educational services from Mr. Chen’s philanthropic foundation. Funds also are awarded to the highest achieving students in the region in both the liberal arts and the sciences. The foundation every year gives out scholarships and financial aid. By the end of 2011, the donations totaled USD 3 5 million (RMB 21 4 million) and have bene ted over 6,100 students. With respect to construction projects that Mr. Chen has funded, villagers remember that it is Chen Fenggan who helped to install road lamps, reconstruct a stone dam, or build a public square. Beyond these material benefits, Mr. Chen is an inspiration and hope to village residents .In fact, in 2011, Mr. Chen was elected committee chief of Zuoxi village. In addition, Mr. Chen promotes a “self-sustaining model” by integrating business philosophy into the management of philanthropic projects. He believes that businesspeople should make full use of their business resources, wisdom, and expertise to bring more value to and support the development of philanthropic projects, so that they can be sustainable.