The finalists came from India, Russia (2), Latvia, Brazil and Turkey (2) but it was He Daofeng who was announced the winner of the second Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize on 27th March 2014 at the WINGSForum in Istanbul. The £5,000 prize is awarded annually to an individual “who has demonstrated remarkable leadership, creativity and results in developing philanthropy for progressive social change in an emerging market country or countries.” Last year’s prize winners were Jane Weru and Kingsley Mucheke for their work to build assets among landless slum dwellers in in Kenya.
He Daofeng is Executive President of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) the first GONGO to become a fully independent foundation and Chair of the China Foundation Center. In his work there and at the China Foundation Center, Mr He has pioneered the use of open and businesslike management methods in China’s philanthropic sector. His work with high net worth individuals as well as more modest givers has helped both to encourage the practice of philanthropy, and to stress the importance of accountability.
In a recent interview with Alliance magazine, Mr He discussed his personal motivation to join the field: “I was a farmer for many years, so I understood the plight of poor farmers. I was also a researcher looking at China’s rural reform in the 1980s and I saw that social reform was needed to underpin economic reform. After Tiananmen Square I thought it would be useless to push for political reform. Rather, we should promote philanthropy and cultivate social self-governance, the civil society spirit and citizen obligation. So social change was the industry sector I chose at the time.”
The “Olga” prize commemorates the memory of Olga Alexeeva, a Russian-born but global citizen who had been a pioneer in the world of emerging markets philanthropy and whose sudden death in July 2011 marked an enormous loss to the global philanthropy field.