Li Foundation founder believes in giving beyond just writing cheques

PUBLISHED 20 DEC 2021, 5:00 AM SGT
Theresa Tan
Senior Social Affairs Correspondent

Straits Times

Venture capitalist Lionel Li Xiaobo, who founded the Li Foundation, believes sports can build confidence and strengthen the mind. Supporting sports and education and promoting collaboration between philanthropist are among the foundation’s focus.

Li Foundation founder believes in giving beyond just writing cheques

Venture capitalist Lionel Li Xiaobo, wants to do more than just write cheques to charities. The founder of the Li Foundation said: “Giving a cheque is too simple… I believe in the four types of giving.” These are giving money, showing the heart to help, putting in the effort to help and being present, he said. “When people can see your presence and the effort you put in, and that you care, that makes all the difference.”

Mr Li, who was born to a middle-class family in Liaoning, China, is now a Singapore permanent resident. He moved to Singapore with his family in 2013. The father of two teenage sons is a partner at FengHe Fund Management, which has about $4 billion in assets under management and is headquartered in Singapore. The philanthropist declined to reveal his wealth, but said that he has been involved in charitable work for the past 15 years.

For example, he is a former president of the Beijing Lions Club, a charity service organisation. “I feel happy being able to help change lives,” he said. “Finding meaning in life is the most important.” The Li Foundation, which was registered as a charity in April, takes its name from Mr Li’s surname. The Chinese character for Li means to encourage, which is what he does by urging his partners and colleagues to join him in his philanthropic work.

He is also a member of the Asia Philanthropy Circle, a platform for Asian philanthropists to collaborate and address social problems. Supporting sports and education and promoting collaboration between philanthropists are among the Li Foundation’s focus. For example, the SportCares-Li Foundation Multi-Sport pro-gramme trains young people in sports such as swimming and running to help them develop resilience and perseverance.

These young people also give back by volunteering in various activities. The foundation also supports a coding club, where students from the Singapore American School teach children from low-income families basic coding skills. The project was initiated by Mr Li’s elder son, who is a student at the school, and his schoolmates.

Sport is an activity close to Mr Li’s heart. He started running marathons in his late 40s in a bid to improve his health. He has run in over 60 marathons since then. In 2018, he completed the World Marathon Challenge, where he ran seven marathons on seven consecutive days in seven continents. “I believe that sports can help a person build confidence and strengthen his mind,” he said. ” I share my (marathon) story to inspire others (to believe) that they too can do it” .


42.195 & Beyond


Published: December 2018, Singapore
ISBN: 978-981-11-9544-0

The book showcases how the participants challenged their limits and conquered the World Marathon Challenge and North Pole Marathon to inspire people to challenge their own limits and pursue their dreams boldly.

1045 追梦的距离


Published: October 2019, Taiwan
ISBN: 978-986-98278-0-5

The book tells the stories behind the event which saw the largest number of people in history running  1045km round Taiwan in 19 days.