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From Rags to Riches – Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing

14 April 2017 - 22:45


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Li Ka-Shing is the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $ 28.8 Billion.

In 1940, he fled to Hong Kong with his family after the Japanese had invaded China during the 2nd World War, referred to as the Sino-Japanese war.  At the tender age of 12, he was forced out of school to support his family, and started working at a watch-strap factory after his father passed away from tuberculosis.

By the time Li had turned 14, he had started working full time in a plastics trading company. It was said that at the time, he had even pawned his late father’s clothes to help buy food for a poor relative.

Eventually, at age 22, he quit his job and opened his first factory, Cheung Kong Industries, manufacturing plastic flowers. He had predicted that plastic would become a thriving industry, and fate proved him right.

Within a few years, he had expanded his business and started earning success as a manufacturer, business magnate, inventor and property developer.
Today, he is one of the most influential philanthropists of Asia and employees over 310,000 people in more than 50 countries. He has a diverse portfolio ranging from real estate, ports and telecom to retail and utilities.

He is one of the greatest investors in disruptive technology. It took him only 5 minutes to decide to invest in Facebook although at the time Facebook was barely generating any revenues.

During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, Li had sent 90% of his pay to his mother. Perhaps this is the basis of his generous values that made him famous for his philanthropy.

“It doesn’t matter how strong or capable you are; if you don’t have a big heart, you will not succeed,” he said.

Although a school dropout, Li was always was a voracious reader. He attributes much of his success to his ability to learn independently.

With no accounting experience, it was Li who had looked after the accounts of Cheung Kong during the first year simply by teaching himself from textbooks.

“The correlation between knowledge and business as the key to success is closer than ever,"

One famous example of loyalty and nobility that Li demonstrated was during 1956, when he had turned down an offer that would grant him 30% profit if he had invested, simply because he had made a verbal agreement with another buyer.

“Anytime I say ‘yes’ to someone, it is a contract”

Li Ka-Shing is an inspiration as a business mogul and a human being. In his journey from poor to rich, his demeanor was not tainted with ego or pride, but showed humble and modest nobility in all his decisions.


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