Asia has a newly crowned richest person.
66-year-old Chinese entrepreneur Zhong Shanshan has dethroned Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani as the richest person in Asia.
According to Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Zhong’s net worth is estimated at a staggering $77.8 billion, making him the 11th richest person in the world and the richest in Asia. He has well surpassed Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Asia’s richest person before Mukesh Ambani took over.
Shanshan is the chairman of Nongfu Spring, a bottled water company. He also controls vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy that is now developing a COVID-19 vaccine and that went public in Aprl 2020. His fortunes skyrocketed with the listing of Nongfu Springs, an organization that controls about one-fourth of the bottled water market of China.
However, his life, career, and rise to fame has been nothing short of remarkable.
Born in Hangzhou, Shanshan dropped out of elementary school during China’s Cultural Revolution. He found work in the construction business but again joined the Zhejiang Radio & TV University in 1977. After his studies, he worked as a journalist for the state-run Zhejiang Daily newspaper. However, close to a decade after graduating from college, he quit his job in 1988 and initiated his own business. He ventured into many businesses, ranging from selling mushrooms to creating healthcare supplements.
It was in 1996 that he started his bottled water company Nongfu Springs. In 2003, his company diversified into selling other beverages such as juices. Subsequently, the organization further diversified to sell coffee, sports drinks, yoghurt, and tea-based beverages. A couple of years back, it began selling lemon and pomegranate-flavored sparkling tea, making a foray in the sparkling beverage drinks sector.
Nongfu Springs has successfully fended off competition from a very competitive bottled water market by differentiating its offerings. For instance, it sells mineral water that it claims is rich in minerals and sells water that it brands as specially made for infants.
Shanshan has often been dubbed the ‘Lone Wolf’ by the local media because of his disinclination to be in the limelight and because his business interests are not interconnected with other rich families in China.