By Dr. Johnny Hon.
An entrepreneur and investor by profession, I set up my angel investment and venture capital firm, the Global Group, a little over 20 years ago, but I am a philanthropist at heart. I have no doubt that giving back has ultimately made me a more successful, well-rounded businessman.
My company was founded just after I completed my Ph.D. in psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, specialising in the link between Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s. While I was studying, I realised that I could ultimately help more people as a successful businessman rather than as a doctor. Philanthropy and social responsibility have therefore always played an integral role in my business dealings – they have kept me motivated, grounded and inspired over the past 21 years.
Investing in the future is of fundamental importance – as leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure that our investments are sustainable and ultimately help make the world a better place.
I was born in Hong Kong, educated from secondary school to my Ph.D. in Britain and now operate my business worldwide. My global upbringing informs all areas of my life. My business focuses on facilitating relationships, trade, investment and entrepreneurial collaborations between the East and the West, and my philanthropy looks at building a better world for those in most need.
In practical terms, I’ve contributed to several hundred charities over the last 21 years and have served on 30 major charities in senior management and advisory positions. I think it is crucial that I continue to spread the word about the work I do and the foundations and good causes that my company supports, with the aim that other business leaders might also follow suit.
To me, philanthropy is not just about numbers, it’s about making time. That is the most important message I want to share with other entrepreneurs and investors: time is your most valuable commodity. As a global businessman, I’m travelling most days of the year. Despite my hectic schedule, I make sure I spend a considerable part of my time on philanthropic pursuits and am always looking for inspiration when I attend networking events, marrying business with social responsibility.
One such organisation that I actively support is the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), founded by the Baroness Cox. I have accompanied the Baroness on visits to countries like Armenia and South Sudan, to explore initiatives for economic development, to provide hands-on support to help disadvantaged communities, and to ensure I experience the positive impact of the Trust first-hand.
They say you should stay true to your roots and this certainly applies to the relationship between my medical training and my philanthropic efforts. I have been a long-serving committee member and Chairman of the Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, one of Hong Kong’s leading charities, and my greatest achievement was to set up the most modern elderly residential home in Hong Kong, applying an innovative service model I devised during my Ph.D. studies.
Indeed, much of my philanthropy relates to my life experiences and my awareness of my fortunate position as a leading global businessman. I personally benefited from the UK education system and with that in mind, I established the Johnny Hon China Scholarship for International Relations at Oxford University and the Johnny Hon Peking University Scholarship at Hughes Hall, my Cambridge college. I truly want to provide others with an opportunity to experience and benefit from these world-class educational institutions – and to support the next generation of leading entrepreneurs and investors.
In my family life, I am passionate about teaching my four daughters the value of philanthropy. I have an overwhelming love for my family –and I want them to have respect and understanding of just how fortunate they are. I often take them to care homes to learn the meaning of compassion and service – you truly cannot start this education soon enough.
Philanthropy, therefore, runs through the core of my business and, indeed, my life. When looking back on 21 years at the helm of the Global Group, I see some of my greatest achievements as the immense and tangible impact I have made on other people’s lives through charitable endeavours.
As business leaders, we have a great responsibility to invest in the future and to ensure we are supporting the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs.