Cao Dewang, Founder & Chairman of Fuyao Group. Mr. Cao Dewang, who began his career at the age of 10 with only seven years of education. In 1987 he founded Fuyao Glass, in 1993 it was the first company in its sector in China to be listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and made it in 25 years one of the largest automotive glass manufacturers in the world.
Born in 1946 in Fujian Province, Cao’s life is full of legends. His family lost entire fortune during their move from Shanghai to Fujian. Growing up as a cowhand and small retailer, who received schooling for less than five years, Cao made a miracle by transforming an unprofitable glass factory to a world renowned company. Under his leadership, the company won two lawsuits against anti-dumping prosecution filed by Canada and U.S. after China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. His group has attracted a number of world renowned automobile manufacturers, including, Audi, Ford, Fiat and Nissan, as its customers. On May 30, 2009, Cao trumped his other competitors to win the title of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur, a yearly award for the most outstanding businessman in the world. Its winners include biotechnology pioneer Jean Paul Clozel from Actelion Pharmaceutical Ltd., American business magnate Michael Saul Dell, founder of the Dell Inc. and Howard Schultz from Starbucks. On May 5, 2011, Cao set up Heren Charitable Foundation, the country’s first family-owned fundraising organization financed by Cao’s 300 million shares valued at about 3.5 billion yuan (US$541 million) from Fuyao Glass Industry Group. Cao’s foundation holds nearly 15 percent of Fuyao’s shares. It also rocked the country’s decades-long philanthropic system, in which private foundations had little say in fundraising, let alone donating shares.
Today Cao is a well-known philanthropist in China. He personally donated more than €15 million for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake relief effort. Then, he announced that he will donate nearly 60% of his interest in Fuyao, valued at more than €300 million, to a newly established charitable foundation. This represents one of the largest ever charitable donations by a Chinese Mainland entrepreneur.