Zong Qinghou – The Rise of a Billionaire in China
Zong Qinghou is a Chinese billionaire and the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Hangzhou Wahaha Group – China’s leading beverage company. From small beginnings as a school storefront, Wahaha Group has grown into one of China’s premier domestic providers of bottled water, tea, and milk beverages.
Although today’s business world is very different than when he first found success, he continues to lead a simple and frugal life.
Early Life and Education
Zong Qinghou came from humble roots in rural China but rose to become one of the richest men in China through hard work and determination alone. His incredible journey from modest beginnings to owning 15% of China’s soft drinks market stands as evidence of his incredible strength of character and will.
Zong is the founder and President of Hangzhou Wahaha Group, one of China’s largest privately-held bottled water and tea sellers, and an outspoken advocate of lower taxes to support economic development in his home country. Married and the father of Fuli (Kelly), his family reside in Hangzhou; previously held permanent resident status in the US while now working to relinquish his citizenship status.
Zong Qinghou, one of the largest beverage producers in China, began Hangzhou Wahaha Group as a mini-grocery store selling milk in 1987 before expanding his business to include carbonated soft drinks, ice and office supplies.
Today, his business empire is worth millions of dollars and he is involved in politics as a delegate for the Chinese National People’s Congress. Additionally, he is married and has one daughter named Kelly born in 1982 – she plays an integral part in family business as she controls a significant share of company shares. Kelly attended Pepperdine University in Southern California before returning home where she became naturalized as an American citizen before eventually returning back home again and beginning the process to renounce it.
Achievement and Honors
Zong’s incredible rise from humble origins to become one of the richest men in China is truly impressive and inspiring, showing that hard work and determination can take one far.
His management skills earned him the State Spark Second Prize from the State Science Commission in 1992 and recognition as a China Management Master. Furthermore, he became known as National Model Worker while receiving awards from Chinese trade unions.
He has donated an estimated 300 million yuan to education and social welfare, as well as giving generously of his time by serving as an adviser for several companies. Recently he appointed Kelly Zong to replace him, in hopes that she can bring fresh ideas and new growth momentum to Wahaha’s development.
Zong is married, with one daughter named Kelly playing an instrumental role in their family business. He advocates for lower taxes to bolster economic development in China as well as private businesses being permitted to acquire state-owned companies – his bold move creating widespread debate as it could transform China into a capitalist nation.
While he is one of China’s richest men and ranked as such in 2010, 2012 and 2013, he prefers living a simple life. Dressing in traditional Chinese clothing and only purchasing shoes made in China as footwear; his charitable giving is focused on working to alleviate poverty rather than handing out money outright.
Zong, founder, chairman, and CEO of China’s largest beverage company – Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. Ltd – is estimated to be worth in the billions. His remarkable journey from poverty to riches has inspired generations of Chinese entrepreneurs and driven major changes in economic reform within his country. Living modestly while investing most of his profits back into his business reinvestments he advocates for lower taxes that support economic development in China.
Born in 1945 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province and with only limited education, Wahaha began his career by working at a salt farm after finishing high school. Later he took over a mini-grocery within a primary school selling milk-selling mini-gallons from retired teachers and turned it into Wahaha; also, through donations totaling millions to poverty alleviation projects he donated millions more towards alleviating poverty.