Zhong Shanshan is now China’s richest person, surpassing Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, his net worth is currently estimated at US$68.5 billion (RM310.8 billion). In 2021, he briefly held the title of Asia’s richest person, overtaking India’s Mukesh Ambani. Let’s take a look at Zhong Shanshan’s background:
Zhong Shanshan used to work in construction to help his poor family
Zhong was born in Hangzhou in 1954 and had to drop out of junior school during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 due to his family’s poverty. He ended up doing construction work to help his family make ends meet.
In 1977, Zhong attempted the college entrance examination but didn’t succeed. However, he persevered and enrolled at Zhejiang Radio & TV University, where he simultaneously pursued his degree and worked.
Starting from 1984, he worked as a reporter for Zhejiang Daily, conducting interviews with over 500 self-made businessmen. Through writing about entrepreneurship, he developed a dream of establishing his own business.
He served as a sales agent for Wahaha Drinks before founding Nongfu Spring
In 1988, Zhong relocated to Hainan Island, off the southern coast of China, to embark on his entrepreneurial journey. He initially began with mushroom cultivation, then shifted to prawn farming, and eventually ventured into turtle breeding. In the meantime, he also served as a sales agent for Wahaha Drinks company before founding Nongfu Spring in 1996.
Within three years of founding Nongfu Spring, Zhong made the decision to stop extracting natural minerals from the water. This was a noteworthy development in China, where distilled water had been the conventional choice for bottled water. Instead, he focused on highlighting the benefits of drinking natural water.
Zhong Shanshan tried to highlight the benefits of drinking natural water instead of distilled water
It took several years, but Zhong eventually succeeded in promoting the concept that “weak alkaline water” could improve health. In 2008, he positioned Nongfu Spring as a brand that connects consumers with nature through their water.
Nongfu Spring steadily gained market share in the bottled water industry, achieving 28.3% in 2018 and becoming the most popular brand. The company reported a revenue of US$3.5 billion (RM15.8 billion) in 2019 and made its market debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in late 2020.
Besides, he also owns Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise
The Chinese entrepreneur’s wealth has experienced a significant surge in recent months following his acquisition of a majority stake in Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise. The company, which is currently developing a Covid-19 vaccine, was listed on the Shanghai stock exchange in April.