88yo Yu Pengnian is a self-made billionaire today, but this was certainly not always the case. He grew up poor in Hunana province, was a ricksaw driver/puller in Shanghai where he searched wealth, and subsequently spent time in a “thought correction center” prison on false charges.
At age 28, he was released from prison and promptly moved to Hong Kong, where he did not speak the native tongues (Cantonese and English). In Hong Kong, he went from being a janitor at a real estate firm to climbing the corporate ladder. Always impressing higher-ups with his work ethic and bosslike dedication to educating himself and becoming a better person all around. He would work 10 hours per day and sleep on the floor of his office!
A junior manager by the 1960s, Yu Pengnian continued his rise. As a real estate genius, he intelligently chose properties that would quickly rise in value, many of which were “by the hour” hotels. He was thusly nicknamed the ‘Love Hotel King’.
Due to his bosslike climb from poverty to extreme wealth (he’s a billionaire today like a boss), Yu Pengnian has been extremely active with charity work. At one point, buying Bruce Lee’s last home to give it to the government to be used as a museum.
He regularly traveled back to his hometown of Lou in Hunan province to hand out envelopes filled with cash to the poor and elderly. Because of corruption and agencies pocketing donation money regularly, Yu Pengnian decided to pass money on to the poor directly instead of through other charities or government agencies.
Suffering from cataracts himself and realizing most Chinese people with the condition are unable to afford surgery, he also decided to donate $10 million per year to mobile cataract clinics that travel to poor parts of the country to perform the surgeries. Since 2003, these ‘Bright Eyes’ vans have performed over 150,000 ctaract surgeries.
For a billionaire, Yu Pengnian never lived lavishly. He lives in the Penglin Hotel in Shenzhen, China and eats from the hotel’s buffet for almost all of his meals. Four years in a row, he has proudly topped the list of philanthropists in China. He is extremely proud to be mentioned along with Bill Gates and Li Ka-Shing, but he does insist on making lighthearted comments about taking it a step further by giving it ALL away like a boss. He stated, “This will be my last donation. I have nothing more to give away.”
His final donation of his entire fortune ($1.2 billion) will go mainly toward education through his Yu Pengnian Foundation. Yu Pengnian said, “Some of the money is for poor students, some is for talented students [who] I want to encourage, including foreign students who want to study in China. Education is very important for a country, very closely related to its prosperity and standard of living.”
Questioned whether or not his children and grandchildren are okay with not inheriting anything, Yu Pengnian responded with, “They didn’t oppose the idea, at least not in public. If my children are competent, they don’t need my money. If they’re not, leaving them a lot of money is only doing them harm.” He also added, “I don’t care what others think. It makes me happy to give my money away. I used to be poor.”
This is how you donate to charity like a boss!