3 Filipinos on Forbes list of philanthropists


Nanette Medved-Po and David Zuellig

Former actress and model Nanette Medved-Po, who sells bottled water to help fund the construction of classrooms across the country, has landed on Forbes Magazine’s 2017 roster of “Heroes of Philanthropy.”

Also making the list of 40 of the Asia-Pacific region’s noteworthy donors are cousins David and Daniel Zuellig, key movers of the Zuellig Family Foundation which trains rural governors, mayors and their staff in leadership and good governance.

Since 2008, the annual Forbes list has featured not only philanthropists who have made the news with their donations in the past year but also those with a long record of supporting worthy causes. Honorees include billionaires, business people and celebrities.

Po and the Zuelligs join Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming in the roster this year.

Through his Yao Foundation, which has an annual budget of around $2.5 million, the former NBA star equips and trains students in sports at schools in remote areas of China with no physical education programs, Forbes reported.

Yao’s foundation also organizes local and regional competitions for these children that culminates in a weekend of playoffs, all-star events and a chance to meet Yao himself. Yao is featured on the cover of the July issue of Forbes Asia.

Another notable philanthropist from China is Charles Chen, cofounder of Tencent, one of the world’s leading internet companies.

Tencent committed $320 million to improving education last year. This will fund the Yidan Prize to be awarded each year to support the most transformational ideas in education.

After leaving Tencent in 2013, Chen established the Tencent Charity Foundation and gave $300 million to upgrade Wuhan College, a private liberal arts college in China.


Generation Hope

Po, 46, is founder, chair and president of Generation Hope & Friends Of Hope.

Generation Hope donates all profits from the sale of Hope in a Bottle bottled water to Friends of Hope, a nonprofit organization that builds classrooms around the country.

Since 2012,  the former actress and model has spent nearly $900,000 and sold almost 9 million bottles, built 37 classrooms and improved the learning environment for more than 7,000 students, according to Forbes.

Po is married to business magnate Christopher Po, who heads two publicly listed companies—leading canned food producer Century Pacific Food Group Inc. and leading pizza chain operator Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc.


Good governance program

Zuellig’s leadership and good governance program began in 2009 for nine municipalities.

The program now covers 640 municipalities, or 42 percent of the country, aided by partnerships with the Philippine health department, the United Nations and the United States.

Forbes also reported that the Zuellig Group had contributed an average of $2.3 million annually over the last five years to the foundation.

“These cousins (David and Daniel) help steer the foundation, which has improved healthcare in poor rural areas, significantly reducing mortality rates for infants and mothers,” the magazine said.

With 83 staff members, the program trains rural governors, mayors and their staff in leadership and good governance.


Not for charity’s sake

The privately held Zuellig Group traces its roots to the cousins’ Swiss grandfather, who started a Manila trading business in the early 1900s.

“Each year since 2008, we’ve scoured the Asia-Pacific region for our list of top philanthropists. We look for men and women who made news with their altruism over the past year, and we also seek to spotlight people who have compiled a record of notable contributions over the years,” Forbes Magazine’s John Koppisch said in the article “Asia’s 2017 Heroes Of Philanthropy” that appeared in its July issue.

“The goal is to pick only true philanthropists—people who are giving their own money, not their company’s (unless they own most of the company), because we don’t consider donating shareholder funds as charity. And we also don’t list people who work in philanthropy solely as foundation heads, volunteers or fundraisers. We want to focus on the people supplying the financing and sketching the broad vision. If our effort in compiling this roster encourages more people to support worthy causes, then we’ll consider it a good deed,” the article said.

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