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Ma Weihua: Seeking the Development Needs of Modern Philanthropy and Being Committed to Nurturing Chinese Philanthropy Leaders with a Global Perspective


On March 19 of Washington local time of the United States, China Global Philanthropy Institute's 2018 "Executive Leadership Program" (EMP-ELP) was formally launched at Harvard University. Ma Weihua, Chairman of the Board of China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI), as the Chinese Academic Advisor of the program, made a speech at the opening ceremony.

Chairman Ma expressed sincere gratitude to the project investor Mr. Ray Dalio and the project developer Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. Many people cherished lifetime dreams when they came to study at Harvard University, and it was just because of Mr. Ray’s funding and the support from Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University that so many people’s lifelong dreams have come true at last.

Ma Weihua said that in today's rapid development of philanthropy, philanthropy knowledge needs to be constantly enriched and updated, and everyone must seek the unknown in the known. He said that this time he came to Harvard in the status of a student. The philanthropy in China is undergoing rapid development and transformation. There are many collisions and frictions between traditional ideas and new methods. Every day, they face new problems, especially the new trends, new ideas, new tools and new methods in the global philanthropy. As for how to find the direction of innovation in the philanthropy in China, as Chairman of the Board of China Global Philanthropy Institute, Mr. Ma Weihua has considered it very seriously, and has discussed these controversial and questionable issues with excellent teachers in Harvard University.

Chairman Ma Weihua stated that during his studies at Harvard University, he will communicate with each student, so as to understand their needs, the puzzles and questions they encountered in the philanthropy undertakings, and what problems China Global Philanthropy Institute could help them to solve. That will be the realization process of the institute’s teaching plan and future strategic goal. Finally, Chairman Ma encouraged the students and wished the project would be a success. The following is a record of the speech.

I am very pleased to be able to start our institute’s 2018 annual "Executive Leadership Program (ELP)" at Harvard University together with you.

Studying at Harvard is a lifetime dream of many of us. When our dream has come true today, we must first thank Mr. Ray Dalio, the sponsor of this project. Ray has been my friend for one decade. When we discussed principles, he would ask what my principle was. Finally, he published a book and called it The Principle. He is also talking about the idea of philanthropy, saying that he should donate his assets and donate them to China. I suggested that he donate to the One Foundation. He said that he would donate to China for public education. China’s philanthropy cause has developed rapidly, but it lacks senior management talents. We realized this very early. When we brewed the plan to establish a global philanthropy institute, he said that if this institute was established, it should use some funds to train outstanding students, so as to provide the conditions for the college's teachers, research, and teaching. I remember when I was in New York in early 2015; he invited me to set up an international charity academy and also talked about this point. At the end of September of that year, I was a visiting scholar at Columbia University. Ray said that he would go to China with Bill Gates in November. It would be the best if the institute could be established in November. I figured there were only 40 days to go, and then, I stopped my study in Columbia University, and returned to Shenzhen, China. It only took 40 days to complete all the registration procedures for the institute. On November 12, our institute was officially established.

The institute began preparing for Harvard studies as early as 2015. In the spring of 2016, we enrolled the first students and asked them to meet Ray's high standards. The first is that we must have a great enthusiasm for philanthropy; the second is that we must have the innovative ability and leadership in the philanthropy area; the third is whether you can study and think seriously, and so on. The number of students signing up this year has shown that this project has not only attracted attention from the institute but also has a great influence on the society and has become a brand project for the enrollment of our institute's EMP program. We are very grateful to Ray. I am very grateful to Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. We are especially grateful to Tony, Teacher Xiaokang and the teaching team. Although we only had 3 weeks of classes, the institute made good preparations for the 3-week course. The teachers we have chosen are very professional. Everyone likes Teacher Xiaokang, and we are also very familiar with Professor Tony. He is a senior professor at Harvard University and a senior expert on China issues. He is an admirable professor in China. Liu He and Shenzhen Party Secretary Wang Wei are all his students.

We also went further than Mr. Ray's vision, as we carried out an innovative design together with Kennedy School, the Action Plan. Action and practice are what our global institute differs from other colleges. In learning in other places, the usual case is to start a business after completing the study. At our global philanthropy institute, action and learning come together. Originally we did philanthropy, and after completing the study here, we will do philanthropy better. This time we also arranged an action plan in the last part of the project. Our action plan will be implemented in the next six months or one year. During this period, we will undergo many discussions and repeated arguments. This will also be a distinctive feature of our class, and it is our innovation.

When I arrived at Harvard yesterday, many students were very concerned about whether or not I was coming to take a look at it. I have told everyone that this time I am a student together with everyone. I have been to Harvard many times. In the past, I was either a guest speaker or a teacher for case analysis. In most of the time I was in the business school. I also came to Kennedy School once and participated in the seminar on economic reform. This time, I really want to be a student of Harvard University. My real identity is a student. I was a representative of the two national conferences. In March, I received invitations from many seminars. All the forums I attended were about economics and finance, talking about things known to everyone. I felt that I did not have any gain. We should seek the unknown from the known, especially in philanthropy undertakings. I am also a new recruit. On the one hand, China’s philanthropy is developing rapidly. At the same time, our philanthropy cause is rapidly transforming. Between some traditional things and new things there are many collisions and frictions. Every day, we face new problems, especially new global trends, new concepts, tools, and methods. These problems can be encountered in our work. How to find the direction of philanthropy innovation in China, as the chairman of the board of the philanthropy institute, I have considered it seriously, but people's understanding needs to be enriched and updated. Being able to continue to explore into controversial and questionable issues at Harvard University and to discuss many issues with outstanding teachers in the best college of the world is a rare opportunity.

Second, I want to explore the issue of curiosity together with Teacher Xiaokang. I have two great friends in spite of the difference in age: one is the late former Prime Minister of Israel, and the other is Mr. Kissinger, who is still busy with Sino-American relations. About one year before the death of Peres in 2015, he said something that I have never forgotten. He said that judging whether a person is young or not, there is such a standard: whether you have dreams, and how far your dreams and achievements are. The bigger the gap, the younger you are. Great undertakings need rich imagination. Both dreams and imagination require us to explore, to have curiosity, sense of freshness, and imagination. I think our study in Harvard is a constant exploration of imagination and curiosity. In the real world, I have deeply realized that keeping the imaginative power, curiosity, and sense of freshness is the driving force for progress, and also a taste of life.

Finally, I have come for a task, that is, the need and strategy. When I was a bank president, I studied the needs of customers, which were the needs for finance. Today, the product of our philanthropy institute is study. The task of our institute is to study the development need of today's social public undertakings. It is the need of every philanthropic person, everyone here. This is what we must study. Before I came, I carefully studied the resume of each one of you. I was thinking that in this age of materialism, when you are not bosses, you have chosen philanthropy. Is your choice temporary or permanent? What kind of puzzles and questions have you encountered in the real world? What problems can our institute solve for you? These problems are just the process of realization of our institute’s teaching plan and future strategic goals. I will use these 15 days of practice to fully communicate with each student and understand everyone's psychology, so as to exchange ideas with you. It is also an adjustment according to the situation and to your condition. I wish everyone will have a happy and fruitful studying experience here.


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