Pony Ma, the founder of Chinese social network and online entertainment firm Tencent Holdings, has announced a pledge of a hundred million shares of the company, worth more than $2 billion, to a charitable fund.
In a statement on Tencent's website, Ma, whose fortune is estimated to be about $18.8 billion, said the donation would support medical, educational, and environmental causes as well as other philanthropic initiatives in China, which, in recent years, has overtaken the United States as the country with the most billionaires. According to Reuters, the pledge is believed to be the second largest ever made by a Chinese national, behind the $3 billion in share options pledged in 2014 by Alibaba co-founders Joe Tsai and Jack Ma — no relation to Pony Ma — to their respective charitable trusts.
In 2007, Ma helped establish the Tencent Foundation as a philanthropic vehicle for the company. The new fund will operate independently of the company-sponsored foundation, however. In March, the Chinese government passed a charity law, its first, that is designed to make it easier for citizens to give money to charitable causes and increase transparency surrounding aid organizations operating in the country, Reuters reports.
"After ten years of exploration and participation in philanthropic activities, I increasingly feel a better way to continue giving back to the society is to do it over a longer term and in a more organized way," said Ma. "Getting a professional team to oversee these projects will also increase the efficiency of management. I can put my energies to focus on driving Tencent's strategies and enhancing product management, as well as lead the overall direction of my philanthropic work."