Select Page

The Forbes Heroes of Philanthropy list revealed that in 2017, only six out of 40 philanthropists were women. In particular, Asian women lag significantly behind their male counterparts when it comes to philanthropy. However, this seems likely to change, with the most recent Forbes list showing that out of 56 female self-made billionaires, 29 came from Asia-Pacific.

Asia’s 2018 Heroes of Philanthropy sifted through its 40-member honour-roll to find individual philanthropists donating their personal finances to causes in the Asia-Pacific region. Traditionally, more names on the list come from China and India than Japan, where cultural sensitivities necessitate a less celebratory attitude towards individual generosity.

Forbes’ Heroes of Philanthropy lists seek to find and celebrate new donors where possible. Recent ‘Heroes’ on the Asia list have included donors committed to healthcare and education, as well as enthusiastic supporters of the arts. 2018 saw the first Cambodian philanthropist make it onto the Forbes list; Suwanna Gauntlett has dedicated herself to protecting the country’s rainforests and wildlife.

The surge in Asian female philanthropists is expected to continue to rise. Joey Horn, Managing Director of Oak Management AS, supports many charitable associations, including Women’s Leadership Giving at Williams College, MA, USA.

Other self-made female donors include:

  • You Zhonghui, Shenzhen Seaskyland Technologies founder. Her philanthropic work has focussed on establishing scholarships to help poor students access better education. She is also the first woman from China to sign The Giving Pledge, an initiative where philanthropists promise to donate over half their wealth to charity.
  • Yoshiko Shinohara made her fortune through her public-listed company Temp Holdings, which created part-time jobs in Japan. She is the county’s first female, self-made billionaire. Shinohara has donated $140 million USD of her company’s stock to fund student scholarships in nursing, day-care and social work.
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is one of India’s wealthiest self-made woman. She is also the country’s first female biotech entrepreneur, with her own pharmaceutical company, Biocon. Since 2005, Mazumdar-Shaw has committed a significant portion of her fortune to fund community healthcare initiatives and efforts to combat cancer.
  • Lilly Singh is ranked No. 1 in Forbes Magazine’s Top Influencer List in the entertainment category. Asian by origin, Singh is now a Canadian actress, author and comedienne with 13 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, ‘Superwoman’.