Zong Qinghou

Zong Qinghou Photo

Zong Quinghou is a Chinese billionaire entrepreneur who is the founder and chief executive officer of the Hangzhou Wahaha Group which is a top beverage company of China. He was ranked among the world’s richest men with an estimated wealth of 11.6 billion dollars.

Zong was born in October 1945 in Zhejiang, China. When he graduated secondary school, he had to return home due to his mother’s retirement. Because of insufficient education he was not able to find a good job. So he started small; he began selling milk at a school in Shangcheng district. Soon he led the Wahaha business of distribution of ice, fizzy drinks and stationary. Zong partnered up with two school teachers and borrowed 140,000 yuán to start producing and distributing milk. In two decades he expanded the company from a little shop in a school to a large business.

His working style was autocratic with strong work ethics. With these important entrepreneurial qualities he managed to make Wahaha the biggest manufacturer of beverages in China. He also founded the Wahaha Nutritional Food Factory in Hangzhou. These nutritional drinks became the foundation of his successful empire. When the government saw the enormous sales that Zong was achieving, it invited him to acquire a canning factory that was going in a loss. Zong agreed and the companies merged in 1991 despite the heavy opposition of the canning company employees who blamed Zong of being a capitalist.

Zong Qinghou has received several awards and titles from the Chinese Trade Unions such as the ‘National Excellent Entrepreneur’. He was also titled a ‘National Excellent Manager’, a ‘Model of Patriotism to Support the Armed Forces’ and ‘Outstanding Builder of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Zong received the ‘First Chinese Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurship Prize’. In 1992 he won the ‘State Spark Second Prize’ which was given to him by the State Science Commission. In 1994 he was named the ‘China Management Master’.

Zong is all for giving donations but he doesn’t just give it away. He believes that the poor have to work hard to get themselves out of poverty. According to him simply handing over money to them is not sensible because they will not spend it wisely. Zong became a member of the Chinese National People’s Congress in March 2013. According to Forbes he was the richest man in China in 2010. In 2012 he was ranked as the wealthiest man in China and on no. 86 in the world. Zong was involved in a controversy in 2008 when ‘Caijing’ a Chinese magazine reported that he was questioned for purportedly avoiding taxes of up to 300 million yuán.

Zong Qinghou is married to Shi Youzhen and has one daughter named Kelly. His wife is the Purchasing Manager of Wahaha. His daughter who studied at the Pepperdine University in the U.S also plays an important role in the business, however, Zong has not announced her to be his successor till now. The Chinese billionaire is also thinking about going into retail. His plan is to open up a hundred supermarkets in several cities.