Alibaba founders give back with charitable trust worth US$3b
Charitable venture valued at US$3b will focus on environment, health and education
Jack Ma Yun has been the pioneer in the mainland's e-commerce industry over the past decade. He is now trailblazing as a pioneer in charity, which is quite a novel endeavour for the country's newly wealthy class.
Ma, founder and executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, and Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Alibaba, set up a personal philanthropic trust focusing on the environment, health and education issues. The money comes from the two men's share options in Alibaba, which represent about 2 per cent of the company's equity.
"We hope to live in a world with bluer skies, cleaner water and better access to healthcare," said Ma. "I am extremely focused on the environment, medical care and education in China."
"But concern and complaints cannot change the current situation," he added. "I am passionate about actively contributing and helping to solve these problems."
The trust is valued around US$3 billion, and takes place just as Alibaba is preparing for a much-awaited and high-profile initial public offering in the US that could value the company at more than US$150 billion.
Ma stepped down as chief executive of Alibaba in May last year, and at that time he told the South China Morning Post that he would like to turn a new page in life and focus on things that really interest him, like filmmaking, environmental protection and education.
He has participated in a number of environmental protection actions and his Sina Weibo's official name gives no trace of his business background or his relations with Alibaba. The name is "The Nature Conservacy - Ma Yun", where he has served as chair of China's board of directors since his retirement as chief executive from Alibaba.
Ma is also a director at kung fu movie star Jet Li's One Foundation, which was founded in 2007.
According to The World Giving Index 2012, China ranked 141 among 146 countries surveyed as a nation which does not give a lot to charity or philanthropy.