The world is currently experiencing one of the worst pandemics in history. The Covid-19 virus has caused great havoc; over a million people have been infected with more than 80,000 recorded deaths. All this occurred in less than five months since the first case was reported on 17th November last year (Davidson, 2020, n.p.). Billionaires such as Jack Dorsey, Jack Ma and Mark Zuckerberg have come up to help fight this pandemic. Their contributions include financial aid to help fund research for vaccines, foods-stuffs for the less fortunate in the society, and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns.
However, for others, there is little known information about them and they intentionally meant it that way. A wide range of factors motivates different people to donate without necessarily appearing in the public eye. For example, many people in the financial sector have policies to remain discrete, especially those in top positions within companies. They try to avoid cameras at all costs and are rarely involved in interviews, if any; this helps prevent them from things such as appearing in unflattering news or getting constant legal cases, some of which are baseless. For some, they would do anything to avoid the fame that comes with wealth.
Another factor that might motivate people to secretly offer financial support to people in need or different projects is religion; this might encourage those in a position to help to do so in a way that does not imply they are showing off. Also, in some cases, highly publicized donations might be viewed as a cover-up. Companies usually make donations to gain the support of the people after they make messes.
Regardless of the reasons behind offering generous donations at a time of need, the following are just a few lesser known billionaires who stepped up during the global fight against Covid 19:
Li-Ka Shing, who is 91, is one of the most influential investors in Hong Kong; he is the founder of the Cheung Kong Group, which is involved in telecom, real-estate, and ports, with a personal networth of US28.3 billion. He donated US$13 million to Wuhan to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak (Zhao, 2020, n.p.). The Li Ka-Shing Foundation has been involved in the sourcing of supplies from around the world to assist medical teams in Wuhan and Hong Kong. Li also donated 250,000 masks to those in public hospitals and the needy. Worldwide shortages of masks resulted in buyers scrambling to get them even as their prices continued to increase. Li takes significantly fewer measures to avoid the media when compared to the next billionaire.
Calvin Lo, CEO of life insurance brokerage giant R.E. Lee International and Founder of asset management firm R.E. Lee Capital, has so far donated US$5 million, 500,000 masks, and 35,000 boxes of sanitizers to help underprivileged people in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He made an additional US$8 million donation to help people in the hard-hit province of Wuhan. Lo has a networth of US$1.7 billion and has a separate foundation worth US$245 million. He was a board member of the Jane Goodall Institute from 2006 to 2018. Despite significant contributions, Lo’s donations received little publicity; however, this is in no way a decision by the media to undermine his efforts. He has tried everything to remain secret, even attempting to stop publication of his photographs.
Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin
Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin is the CEO of Malaysian-based Sapura Energy Group, which provides oil and gas services. He donated RM$1 million, equivalent of approximately US$230,000 to the Edge Covid-19 Equipment Fund and the Edge Covid-19 Health Workers Support Fund (Goh, 2020, n.p.). Though not as successful as Lo, the Shamsuddin has limited his appearances in the media.
Richard Liu is the founder of JD.com, which is China’s biggest retailer. Liu has been conducting talks with the government of China regarding shipment of 5,000,000 masks and 600,000 pairs of gloves. Other items include protective gowns and medical safety goggles (Kleinman, 2020, n.p.). Liu received a lot of media attention in 2019 after he was accused of rape which was settled out of court.
Donations made by people such as Li and Lo, who prefer to remain discrete, might be perceived as genuine. Such people gain nothing from such doings; their actions do not add to their fame or increase awareness for their brands. However, this does not mean that people who make donations that receive media attention are always up to something suspicious. Billionaires such as Bill Gates have always been on the frontline advocating for measures to make the world a better place. Involving the media in their actions helps in passing information to as many people as possible and educating them on how they, too, can take part in such noble courses. Without the help of the media, their efforts would be significantly less effective.