Global Group’s founder Johnny Hon has pursued success in business as a route to doing good

There are many ways to do good but as an experienced investor Johnny Hon is always concerned about maximising his returns, whether financial or philanthropic.

The Hong Kong entrepreneur and founder of Global Group originally considered a career in medical research, hunting for a solution to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But after gaining a doctorate in psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, he went into business instead because he was convinced that he could do more good by making his own money. It was a good call.

Today, Hon invests in entrepreneurs to help them develop businesses that create real economic value and ploughs his earnings back into the community.

“My philosophy,” he says, “was that by getting into business, I could make more money and help more people, so philanthropy is an important part of this process. We’ve donated to more than 180 charities worldwide and half of the money we’ve made goes towards helping charities internationally.”

"We’ve donated to more than 180 charities worldwide and half of the money we’ve made goes towards helping charities internationally.”

Hon’s philanthropy also informs the way he runs his business and investment activities. In his role as an angel investor he is an enthusiastic supporter of young entrepreneurs—particularly women.

“Female entrepreneurship is a powerful economic force,” he says. “Women who weren’t previously able to run businesses because they were confined to traditional gender roles are now free to come up with innovative and exciting ideas, thanks in part to the internet and technology. And I am proud to invest in them.”

Social responsibility is another factor that Hon looks at when weighing up investment decisions. Entrepreneurs and businesses that operate within an ethical framework are more likely to attract his backing. “People who care about the community, their staff and how their business affects the world tend to be good people to be in business with,” he says.

Hon’s more traditional philanthropic activities include serving on the committees of numerous charities. He is a fellow and diamond benefactor of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award World Fellowship and is involved in a great variety of philanthropic and political activities both within the Chinese community and further afield.

He founded the Hong Kong Qinghai Johnny Hon Hope Primary School in Lanlongkou town, Qinghai province, and established the Johnny Hon China Scholarship for International Relations at the University of Oxford. He is also a founding benefactor of Asia House in the UK.

But such positions are not only about charity—at least not in the conventional sense. Hon is unabashed about the networking opportunities they open up because his success in business determines how much good he can do.

“It’s a win-win,” he says. “I can meet a lot of people through philanthropy, find and exploit business opportunities and ultimately help more people and have a greater social impact. For me, business and philanthropy are one piece.”

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