On the 19th of January, the official Instagram account of US sitcom the Ellen Show uploaded a video on Instagram, entitled “this Chinese woman is donating 1.5 billion dollars to save endangered animals.” The video got more than 3 million views and went viral on international social media.
The woman in question is He Qiaonu, the founder and chairman of Orient Landscape, the first listed company in the landscape industry in China. In October 2017, in a meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Morocco, He proclaimed she would donate 1.5 billion dollars (about 9.6 billion yuan) over 7 years. This is the largest personal donation ever made for wildlife protection. The news however didn’t grab people’s attention in China until the video went viral in January.
Born in an impoverished family, He shared a house of only 30 square meters with six relatives in her childhood. After graduating from the Landscape Architecture School of Beijing Forestry University, the entrepreneur embarked upon her own business in the landscape industry.
After achieving great success in her career, He has been engaged in philanthropy in recent years. She set up the Qiaonu Foundation in 2012, which is devoted to protecting biodiversity. In 2015, she pledged to donate stocks valued 3 billion yuan to the foundation. Owing to this donation, she was ranked as the biggest donor of the year by the China Philanthropy Research Institute. In addition, He also teamed up with Bill Gates and another famous entrepreneur named Niu Gensheng to establish the China Global Philanthropy Institute in Shenzhen.
In the past two years, He Qiaonu has begun to concentrate on the conservation of endangered wildlife. The entrepreneur gave away 20 million dollars to the felid conservation organization Panthera and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in the University of Oxford, aiming to save endangered species, including the Chinese snow leopard, the Asian tiger and the jaguar. In 2017, the Qiaonu Foundation proposed to protect wildlife in 28 nature reserves.
In a recent interview with The Paper, He Qiaonu expressed her enthusiasm for charity, and said she was glad that there were encouraging signs of entrepreneurs in China paying more attention to philanthropy.