China economy

They hold up half the sky: six of every 10 of the world’s self-made, women billionaires are in China

The 2017 Hurun Report shows 49 Chinese women are on the global list of self-made billionaires, making up 63 per cent of the worldwide total.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 12:34pm

Rapid wealth creation in China has dramatically redrawn the global rankings among self-made women, with the mainland now dominating the list of women billionaires, led by touch-screen maker Lens Technology’s founder Zhou Qunfei, according to the Hurun Report.

There are 78 self-made women entrepreneurs worldwide whose total wealth exceeds US$1 billion, 49 of them, or 63 per cent, are from China, according to the Hurun Richest Women in China 2017 report released on Thursday.

In fact, Chinese women have eclipsed their global counterparts to take the top five spots in terms of wealth among self-made billionaires, according to Hurun.

In addition, the report showed that the wealth growth among female Chinese entrepreneurs expanded at the fastest pace ever.

Mao Zedong famously observed that women “hold up half the sky.” The top 50 richest women in China own average assets worth 23.1 billion yuan (US$3.48 billion), or a combined 1.2 trillion yuan, up almost 50 per cent from 2016.

The benchmark to rank among China’s 50 wealthiest women has risen to 10 billion yuan in 2017, up nine times from a decade ago.

Yang Huiyan, the 36-year-old who owns a 56 per cent share of property developer Country Garden Holdings remains the wealthiest woman in China. Yang, who is vice-chairwoman of the property developer, saw her wealth ballooned 230 per cent on year to 160 billion yuan.

Among the top 50 richest women in China, 34 are self-made, according to Hurun.

Yang did not qualify as a self-made billionaire because her stake in Country Garden was transferred by her father Yeung Kwok Keung, the founder and chairman of Country Garden.

The world’s top five self-made women are Zhou Qunfei (70 billion yuan), who established the touch-screen maker Lens Technology; Wu Yajun (52.5 billion yuan), chairwoman of Longfor Properties; Chen Lihua (50.5 billion yuan), founder of commercial real estate group Fu Wah International; Cheung Yan (45 billion yuan), who chairs Nine Dragons Paper; and Peng Lei (40 billion yuan), who heads Alibaba’s affiliated financial services arm, Ant Financial.

Zhou’s wealth increased 56 per cent in the past year, while Wu’s rose by 59 per cent, Cheung’s increased 45 per cent and Peng’s leapt 321 per cent, according to the Hurun list. Chen’s wealth was unchanged from last year.

In terms of wealth creation by industry breakdown, 24 per cent of women on the top 50 were linked to the property industry, 20 per cent to financial and investment, 13 per cent to manufacturing, 11 per cent to internet and technology, and 8 per cent to pharmaceuticals.

In terms of cities, Shenzhen is home to 11 of the top 50, while Beijing and Shanghai represent nine and seven respectively. Three female entrepreneurs on the list are living in Hong Kong.

In spite of the rapid growth in wealth, the average wealth of China’s 50 richest women is only a third of the 72.6 billion yuan average of China’s 50 richest men.

The benchmark to join the club of China’s wealthiest men is 34 billion yuan, the report said.

Alibaba Group is the owner of the South China Morning Post.