Niu Gensheng is the founder and honorary president of the Lao Niu Foundation; the founder, former chairman and president of Mengniu Dairy Group; and founding member, former chairman, and vice president of Yili Group. Mr. Niu currently holds many positions including vice chairman of China Charity Alliance, member of the China Entrepreneur Club, vice president of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Great China Council, and trustee of The Paradise International Foundation.
Mr. Niu is also often recognized for his philanthropic work, and has received many prestigious honors including CCTV's “China Economic Person of the Year” and the “Most Influential Entrepreneur of China” for five years in a row. He has also been presented the China Charity Prize for twice, China’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Special Contribution Award for Philanthropy, TNC's renowned Oak Leaf Award in 2014, and the Committee of 100’s Outstanding Prize for Philanthropy. Mr. Niu was also elected into the “Top 10 of China Charity Leaders List” and the “Top 100 Most Influential People Engaged in China’s Philanthropy in 2016.”
Niu Gensheng started work in 1978 as a cattle raiser and humble bottle washer with Yili Group, and worked his way up to director and vice president in charge of production and operation. In a decade (1987-1997), Niu Gensheng helped make Yili into “the first ice-cream brand in China.”
In 1999, despite the lack of market, factory, and milk source, he launched his own company: The Mengniu Dairy Group. During its first seven years, Mengniu enjoyed average annual growth of 158% (later known as the miracle of “Mengniu Speed”). When Mr. Niu was honored as CCTV’s “Economic Person of the Year 2003,” the announcement said, “He is a cow, but runs with the speed of a rocket. Under his leadership, Mengniu Dairy Group has become a global leader in milk production and the champion of China's dairy industry.”
In December 2004, Mr. Niu and his family donated the family's assets (their Meng Niu shares and a portion of the dividends) to create the Lao Niu Foundation. They are committed to becoming a “modern Chinese family foundation,” and are supporting the development of the Chinese philanthropic sector by promoting charity law reform, training nonprofit professionals, engaging in international exchange, establishing and supporting research organizations, and organizing philanthropy forums. The foundation strives to pursue globalized philanthropy based on their primary program areas of environmental protection and cultural education.
Mr. Niu resigned from his positions as chairman and president of Mengniu Group in 2006 and 2009, respectively, to devote himself full time to philanthropy. His passion for giving back is shared by his family, who have been inspired to embrace their own philanthropic efforts. In 2015, Mr. Niu's children established their own Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation to expand their personal giving and engagement. Because of their significant contributions to China’s philanthropic sector, the Niu family was named “China Strategic Philanthropy Model.” Adhering to the philanthropic beliefs of the Niu family, by the end of 2017, the Lao Niu Foundation has cooperated with 164 institutions, organizations, and individuals around the world. It has undertaken 219 philanthropic projects spanning 31 provinces in China and parts of the United States, Canada, France, Denmark, Nepal and Africa . The foundation’s total philanthropic expenditure is over CNY 1.3billion.
2. Proverbs from the Founder
“Small victories are won by wisdom, while a great victory must be achieved by virtue.”
“The more fortune one has, the greater responsibility one should undertake.”
“Helping others allows you to improve yourself.”
“The benefactor should be grateful to the beneficiary.”
“If everyone does good, everything will be good.”
“How happy you are depends on how many people love you.”
“Going from not having to having can satisfy a single person, but it will only bring small happiness. Going from having to not having by giving back to society will bring great joy.”