China / Business

Bill Gates launches institute focused on philanthropy

By Zhu Wenqian (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-03 06:50

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was in Beijing last month to officially inaugurate China's first educational institute dedicated solely to charity sector education.

The China Global Philanthropy Institute will be based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and has the backing of five leading philanthropists from China and abroad.

Gates, the president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the new organization's aim is to foster management talent in the sector, and promote professional and transparent philanthropy. It is the first charity-focused education initiative he has supported in the country.

Gates said the founders - Ray Dalio, founder of American investment firm Bridgewater Associates, and He Qiaonv, founder and chairman of Beijing Orient Landscape - will provide support and training to charity personnel, and also hope to involve top professionals who can bring their leadership, knowledge and resources to the sector.

Peking University's Guanghua School of Management became the first in China last year to offer a charity qualification - a masters-level Social Enterprise Management Program - aimed at producing resourceful and talented charity professionals.

But across the country there is seen a growing lack of professional charity sector trainers or teachers, or learning material.

At the end of 2014, China had 606,048 social organizations, including 4,117 foundations, according to China Statistical Yearbook. The country added 568 foundations over the previous year, a 16 percent increase.

The yearbook also highlighted, however, the sector needed about 50,000 leaders and 3 million senior managers with experience of operating what are considered modern charitable organizations.

Ma Weihua, former president of China Merchants Bank, is the new institute's chairman, and Wang Zhenyao, professor of public welfare research at Beijing Normal University, is its dean.

"The institute's main purpose is to direct more of China's growing wealth toward philanthropy," said Wang.

"We would like to invite emerging philanthropists and entrepreneurs interested in public welfare to join this innovative and practical program.

"Its classes will be taught by top professors from prestigious academies around the world. The subjects will combine theory and practice."

The new institute also plans to work with leading universities - including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Oxford - as research and teaching partners, to ensure the quality of its offerings, said Wang, and together they will build what he called a global charity education alliance.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Alibaba's Jack Ma said: "Great talent in the field of public welfare is very rare in China.

"We have to start training talented personnel. This is a long-term systematic project, which requires effort from all walks of life."

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