"Working for the public good is the best choice in my life." Lu Bo said in an interview and assured himself.
Lu Bo's career path can be segmented into generally three stages:
Graduated from university in 1992, Lu Bo got a popular job of the time, doing international trade business. He has had five-year working experience of exporting mechanical and electrical products at China National Instruments Import and Export Corporation.
Since he first came into contact with non-profit organizations in 1997, he has worked for more than ten years with international non-profit organizations such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the Boao Forum for Asia and the US-China Business Council. He has accumulated extensive experience in the management of non-profit organizations and international affairs.
This experience helps Lu Bo open the door to non-profit organization as the third sector in the world, aside by government and business. It has greatly inspired him.
In 2007, Lu Bo happened to meet Feng Lun, a famous entrepreneur who was keen on public welfare all year round. They subsequently launched the Singapore World Future Foundation to embark on their journey of public service.
In the past 12 years, Lu Bo has worked with a number of entrepreneurs to establish three public welfare foundations in three cities at home and abroad:
From 2008 to 2016, he has served as Secretary-General, contributing to the formation of the World Future Foundation in Singapore, which was committed to promoting research on environmental and social sustainable development.
From 2016 to 2018, he participated in the construction of the Shenzhen Iveeco Technology Public Welfare Foundation and served as the Secretary General. The foundation focuses on using China's influence to promote the progress of global science and technology, and youth development.
In June 2018, Lu Bo participated in the inauguration of Xi'an Rural Development Charitable Foundation (referred to as Rural Development Foundation), and is serving as Director and Secretary-General. The Foundation is devoted to alleviating talent shortages in rural development.
Dr. Lu Bo's vision is always closely linked to charity.
Gloria Ai: In the book The World of Good Deeds, you raised a question — How can an individual participate and solve problems prompted by the society?
Lu Bo: Everyone has a unique way. In fact, there is no standard answer to judge which way is the best. The key is to find an approach you are most skilled in and enables you best play your role and value, to well participate in social change, or to protect the environment. As far as I am concerned, creating non-profit organizations and operating public welfare foundations is precisely my expertise, and can be a great contribution to social change as well. Public welfare is essential and ubiquitous, but it is unnecessary and impossible for every citizen to do public welfare. In my opinion, the most important is for everyone to have a proper understanding of the public welfare sector, show respect and a willingness to participate.
According to statistics, the scale of charity in China is far below the international level. Fortunately, communities in all walks of life are aware of the fact, and more entrepreneurs, even the second generation of entrepreneurs have devoted themselves to the cause for public interest.
Gloria Ai: In your career, you have met many entrepreneurs. Who can be the role model as a philanthropist?
Lu Bo: I know a good number of entrepreneurs, and many of them impress me deeply. I admire Mr. Feng Lun very much, not only because he is my guide to charity, but also he is forward-looking and visionary in charity and public good. I really admire his spirit of showing great care to the whole world, and dare to try.
Gloria Ai: In which ways does he do public welfare?
Lu Bo: For example, I started the World Future Foundation with Mr. Feng Lun in 2008. He was quite foresighted. When he went to Singapore to register the non-profit foundation, the public and media in Singapore did not believe that we were actually there to do charity.
The headline on the Singaporean press is “China’s Real estate Giants Turn the Tables on Singapore". Some locals questioned: “We know that you donated money, and you did something for the public good, but your purpose is to acquire more land.” We didn't argue, because no one would believe us.
Nowadays after 12 years, the World Future Foundation is still functioning. Although its voice is not that loud and the influence is not compelling enough, we have been cultivating silently and steadfastly doing public welfare.
Gloria Ai: Action speaks louder than words.
Lu Bo: You are right. It has set a benchmark, as the World Future Foundation is China's first public welfare foundation registered overseas, which I think is remarkable.
Gloria Ai: In addition to Mr. Fenglun, among the guests of iAsk Leaders, Mr. Cao Dewang, the Founder of Fu Yao Glass, seemed to spend most of his fortune doing public welfare. According to published data, his cumulative donation is nearly 12 billion yuan. He firmly believes that doing charity brings himself happiness.
Lu Bo: Yes. I haven't met Mr. Cao Dewang in person, but I know more about his deeds, especially in public interest. I would like to say that Mr. Feng Lun, Mr. Cao Dewang and Mr. Wang Shi are Chinese entrepreneurs with very different personalities. But they all pull themselves from of the business world, to instill a lot of time, energy and wealth in charity. They are admirable leaders in deed.
China's private entrepreneurs are like scarce resources. They are influencing the creation, change, and promotion of China’s society, in a way that ordinary people can hardly imagine. Especially in social governance and charity, they are praiseworthy for enormous good deeds.
I hope the public respect and cherish the benevolence of entrepreneurs. We can comment and discuss, but not slander. I highly recommend to do so, since doing charity is not easy for them.
Over the past ten years, I have been using my professional skills and industry experience, to help entrepreneurs carry out public charity activities and do good deeds effectively. I hope to continue my efforts in the future.
Gloria Ai: The second generation of philanthropists, such as Miss Liu Chang, the daughter of Mr. Liu Yonghao, who is the founder of the New Hope Group, also takes her part and makes contributions. You have published an article about young entrepreneurs, as the second generation of philanthropy's response to the call for social responsibilities.
Lu Bo: Yes, I am particularly optimistic about the cultivation of the young generation of philanthropists, as well as their contribution to China's public welfare and charity, and even to China's social progress. Their knowledge of wealth and their understanding of the public good are very different from the old generation.
Gloria Ai: Who are those famous new generation of philanthropists in China?
Lu Bo: There are a good few representatives, including Liu Chang, the daughter of Liu Yonghao, Niu Ben from the Niu Gensheng family, Cao Hui, the son of Cao Dewang, and Yang Huiyan from Country Garden. They have formed a new force.
The Rural Development Charitable Foundation was co-founded by 100 Chinese entrepreneurs and celebrities represented by Wang Shi, Feng Lun and Hai Wen.
I found in the list of 100 founders, over a dozen of founders are philanthropists of the new generation.
In mainland China, it is a trend for entrepreneurs to work as a team to do public welfare.
Gloria Ai: The development of public welfare in china faces different scenarios like ice and fire. The first generation of entrepreneurs including professional managers with an international vision like you, are gravely exploring how to serve China’s public good. Meanwhile, the public may hold some doubts and misunderstandings, and there are numerous incidents of forced donation. Why would that happen?
Lu Bo: The reasons behind are very complicated. First according to statistics, individual donations account for more than 70% of the total charitable donations in the United States, while donations from enterprises take a small share. In China, the situation is the reverse, enterprise’s donations are up to 70%, of which the vast majority are from private enterprises. The proportion of individual donations is small, which is certainly related to the accumulation on personal wealth.
Now China’s main force of public welfare is private entrepreneurs. The reason why the public forces entrepreneurs to donate is largely related to the unequal income distribution and the social structure in the past few decades.
Some people still have a hatred of the rich.
As public-spirited workers, we can’t complain or escape. Only with the efforts and positive energy can we change the situation. We took actions including inviting the world's top audit company PWC to conduct the audit. Why? Because we want to ensure the justice of the procedure, the fairness of the process, and the transparency of information. To do public good, getting trust is the most difficult and takes time. We are building public trust slowly from ensuring every budget and every project.
Gloria Ai: One of Chinese government goals is that absolute poverty will be eradicated in China by 2020. Is rural development a focus of the Foundation's efforts?
Lu Bo: Yes, poverty alleviation is a crucial factor for rural development. I think our Foundation is not only focusing on direct poverty alleviation, but more on research and education to alleviate talent shortages in the process of rural development.
If the talent issue is not well solved, poverty relief may also lead to tomorrow's return to poverty, right? It will bounce back, without a fundamental solution. One measurement is to cultivate talent, and the other is to retain talent, in order to fundamentally uproot rural problems, which we are committed to face and solve.
Gloria Ai: What is the value of wealth in your eyes?
Lu Bo: I think the value of wealth is about changing the society, changing the world, at least changing people’s lives in your neighborhood and around you. I believe it’s where the value lies.
Gloria Ai: Wealth is a medium developed from the exchange of things. If we can turn wealth into influence and value, it has been correctly used.
Lu Bo: I agree. How many people have you influenced, assisted or changed? Use your power to change, with the power of wealth.
Gloria Ai: If we foresee the future in a decade, what do you expect from yourself as a public welfare person, and this non-profit organization you are planning on?
Lu Bo: I assume that in the next decade, China's public welfare and charity will be promoting social progress. Especially in rural revitalization, there will be a large number of best practices, of which the classic cases will be written into textbooks of internationally renowned universities.
I hope to have chances of working on first-hand public welfare projects and move classic cases into college classes. I hope my participation and contribution will influence more people. It is exceedingly meaningful and valuable experience to me personally.
As a scholarly public welfare manager, Dr. Lu Bo represents the backbone in the rising force of China's public welfare and charity. With professionalism, selfless and adherent efforts of the public welfare leaders, China's public welfare and philanthropy will reach the international caliber very soon.