Have you noticed the increase in Chinese billionaires over the past few years? It seems nearly every other month we're publishing an inspiring rags-to-riches take about a newly-minted billionaire on Mainland China. It got us thinking. Is this a new phenomenon or is the West just now noticing it?
It is an entirely new phenomenon. In 2000, just 17 years ago, there was one billionaire in all of Mainland China. Today there are more than 300. What's even more impressive is that in the first three months of 2015, China made a new billionaire nearly every single week. Since then, the Chinese billionaire boom has just picked up more and more speed. The current year's list of billionaires had 76 newly minted Chinese billionaires on it – more than any other country. China also had the most new billionaires on the list in 2015 and 2016.
It is incongruous to think of China as the land of opportunity given its communist status, but that's exactly what it has been for most of the past two decades. And all of these new Chinese billionaires are self-made. Look at China's richest man, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, net worth $28 billion. He is a former school teacher who is the son of a musician. Wang Wei, China's third richest man ($22 billion) and founder of the delivery service SF Express, is the son of university professors. Baidu co-founder Robin Li has a net worth of $10 billion. His parents were factory workers and he went to grad school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
When it comes to Chinese female billionaires, they are thriving just as much! Nine of the 25 new female billionaires on the list are from China. Self-made billionaires are rare, self-made female billionaires are even rarer. China boasts the highest ratio of self-made female billionaires – even more than the U.S. It is thought that the reasoning for this is that it takes less financing to start a company in China than the U.S. and in the U.S. sadly, female owned businesses can have less access to money due to antiquated sexist practices. With businesses less dependent on borrowed money, more profit can be banked sooner.
Additionally, Chinese billionaires average 57 years old, a full decade younger than billionaires in the U.S. and Europe. About 25% of Chinese billionaires grew up poor, compared to just 8% in the United Stares.
China's economy has been in a period of rapid growth for the past 10 years and that is a big factor in the rise of new billionaires in the country. In 1980 China was the seventh largest manufacturing company in the world. In 2011 it was the world's largest and its enormous population also creates avenues for businesses to be more profitable.
And finally, when the global economy hit the skids in November 2008, China infused their economy with an enormous $585 billion stimulus package that kept its home grown businesses in business.
For all of these reasons, China is the place to be if you want to become a billionaire. Of course, it helps if you speak the language.