“I always believe quality education is essential for the development of the society. The return on investment can be multiple and even immeasurable.”
Mr. Lee Shau Kee is founder, chairman, and majority owner of Henderson Land Development based in Hong Kong. Henderson is a property conglomerate with investments in properties, hotels, restaurants, and internet services in Hong Kong but also in mainland China. He also serves in governing roles for the Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited, Miramar Hotel and Investment, Hong Kong Ferry Limited, and the Bank of East Asia Limited. Mr. Lee was born in South China and first moved to Hong Kong in 1948; he was one of the early pioneers in the real estate industry. Mr. Lee is a multi-billionaire and one of the wealthiest persons in Hong Kong and the world.
In 2014, Lee Shau Kee announced he would retire from business and focus his work on philanthropy. Through the Lee Shau Kee Foundation, Mr. Lee has donated funds for scholarships, capital projects, post-secondary institutions, and innovative educational projects. Notable examples include HKD 20 million in 2006 to the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity (HKSC). The HKSC is a secondary school in Hong Kong that provides young people with a creative learning experience and opportunities for self-fulfillment. Very early on, in 1982, he established the Pei Hua Education Foundation, which provided educational and training opportunities in mainland China. In 2005, Mr. Lee donated about RMB 330 million to launch mainland China’s largest farmer training program. The Warmth Project provided vocational training for one million farmers and 10,000 village doctors. In 2005, Mr. Lee contributed HKD 50 million to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2007, he gave HKD 500 million to the University of Hong Kong and HKD 400 million to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Mr. Lee stated in 2005, at the time of the gift to CUHK, “I always believe quality education is essential for the development of the society. The return on investment can be multiple and even immeasurable.” Mr. Lee views investments in education as benefitting not only the individual recipient but also the larger community. Furthermore, in his considerations regarding philanthropy, Mr. Lee observed at an event in 2011, “Money can become a controlling factor in life and make you a slave to it. One way to avoid that is philanthropy. Giving away money to the right cause, with a leveraged effect and your own involvement in how it is spent, will ‘give you peace of mind,’”. Mr. Lee’s statements reflect a business mindset with hopes for societal benefits, but it appears he is also motivated by a desire to seek personal fulfillment and resolve by engaging in philanthropy.
Projects supported by Mr. Lee are among the largest in scale. For example, the Warmth Project was one of China’s largest projects and his gifts to Hong Kong universities have also been among the largest. More recent projects to build a youth hostel, elder care, and public housing facilities in Hong Kong are intended to serve thousands of individuals.
Photo by Tksteven licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0