Caixin
Oct 27, 2021 09:38 PM
CHINA

Venture Capital Firm Co-Founder Says Super Rich Should Help to Curb Inequality

Hoi Shuen Chau, cofounder of Horizons Ventures. Photo: VCG
Hoi Shuen Chau, cofounder of Horizons Ventures. Photo: VCG

Horizons Ventures’ co-founder Solina Chau has called on super rich Asians to play a bigger role in contributing to society and helping in eliminating all kinds of inequality.

Chau shared her views in a speech at the Asia Philanthropy Forum 2021 last week, which was organized by U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. She said that countries with different systems across the world are facing increasing inequality, and the problem is breeding increasing populist sentiments.

Horizons Ventures Ltd. is the private venture capital firm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.

Citing the recent survival drama “Squid Game” as an example, she said, the South Korean hit series reflects a pattern of social inequality, with the workers dressed in red with masks featuring different symbols mirroring people in a capitalist society.

Squid Game tells a story of a group of individuals who had fallen through the cracks of society, who risk their lives in a series of games for monetary rewards. In the first month of its launch on the streaming platform Netflix, the program raked in more than 142 million viewers. It has since become Netflix’s most-watched series to date.

Chau said that there’s a prevailing view among people that systemic inequality is the main obstacle to improving everyday person’s livelihood. “As shown in Squid Game, those in power dominate those who are below them and can manipulate things as they wish."

She also cited the film Crazy Rich Asians, which tells the story of a relationship between a rich Singaporean man and an average woman. The extravagance depicted in the movie had sparked heated discussions in Europe and the U.S., which Chau described as “revealing the increasing severe issues of inequality in Asia.”

Chau said it’s “foolish” to stand by and watch when people around the world have increasingly called on the governments to intervene to promote the redistribution of social resources. “For the rich and the elite, especially those who have gained their wealth through inheritance instead of building something up on their own, when society starts to blame them, I’m not sure whether they will be granted any empathy.”

She also said the current climate for charitable acts are easily labeled as “atonement” or “transactional” in nature. She added that the most worrying thing is that this reality might hurt innovation, which could become a victim under the policies for eliminating the uneven distribution of wealth.

To drive continued innovation, Chau called on wealthy Asians to take bold investments in people that will bring new ideas to the world that can improve future productivity. “We are fighting a war for our future,” Chau said, “You should take the investment risks since you can afford them.”

Horizons Ventures has been looking for innovative enterprises, Chau said, noting that the investment philosophy would help the company gain sufficient return as well as solve social problems.

She added the wealthy should boldly put their funds and resources toward fighting climate change and creating a more livable world for the next generation.

Chau concluded by pointing out that inequality is a daily occurrence and that people of all socio-economic backgrounds should learn to respect each other. She called on the rich to take the lead in embodying the values of modesty, sincerity and humility. “These virtues are the vitamins for people to gain equality and fight against inequality,” she said.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong (xintongwang@caixin.com) and editor Bertrand Teo (bertrandteo@caixin.com)

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