In June this year, Kerela-born entrepreneur Sunny Varkey pledged at least half his fortune to charity as part of the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet-led Giving Pledge initiative. Dubai-based Varkey, who has built an estimated fortune of $2.25 billion through his GEMS Education (it runs 70 private schools in 14 countries), appears on Forbes Asia’s latest list of 40 Heroes of Philanthropy.
The list, now in its ninth year, features philanthropists in the Asia-Pacific region who made news in the past year. As part of its annual philanthropy issue, Forbes Asia does not necessarily list Asia-Pacific’s biggest donors, but aims to shed light on a mostly fresh group of philanthropists who give their own money to causes of their choosing.
This year’s list features seven Indians, including Varkey. Infosys’s co-founders— Senapathy Gopalakrishnan, Nandan Nilekani and SD Shibulal along with former Infy HR head Mohandas Pai—feature on the list for their independent contributions to the fields of health and education. Another Infosys co-founder, NR Narayana Murthy, is represented on the list by his son Rohan for donating $5.2 million to Harvard University Press for the promotion of ancient Indian literary classics.
The other Indians on the list are London-based brothers Suresh and Mahesh Ramakrishnan, founders of Whitcomb & Shaftesbury tailors on London’s Saville Row. They have spent nearly $3 million to train more than 4,000 people in tailoring over the past decade in India.
Founder and executive chairman of China’s Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, also finds mention on the list for his $2.9 billion worth of contributions to social welfare causes. Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Yao Ming is another prominent personality from China on the list. His Yao Foundation works with companies to build schools and train children in sports.
Another prominent athlete on the list is Filipino boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao. The boxer, who fought the richest fight in boxing history this May against Floyd Mayweather Jr, spends about $400,000 a year on the college education of 1,000 students.
For the first time, the list features a philanthropist from Nepal. Billionaire Binod K Chaudhary has been supporting rebuilding efforts in the country ever since the earthquake in April this year. He has pledged $2.5 million for the rebuilding of homes and schools in the Himalayan nation.
Find the complete list here
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