Mr Edward Lui
Honorary University Fellow (2022)
Managing your family’s philanthropic foundation comes with a unique blend of responsibilities and challenges. For more than 30 years, Mr Edward Lui, Chairman and Director of Providence Foundation Limited, has not only been extending his late father’s legacy, but he has also selflessly devoted himself to contributing to the betterment of people’s livelihoods in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The Providence Foundation was set up by the late Mr HM Lui in 1989, a year before his unfortunate passing. Since then, Mr Lui has been managing the Foundation, and together with his siblings, working on five key objectives of the Foundation – namely education, medical care, services for those with intellectual disabilities, leadership and disaster relief – strictly on a voluntary basis.
Holding the responsibility for steering the education and disaster relief portfolio, Mr Lui often derives inspiration from his upbringing. He was sent to study at a boarding school in the United Kingdom with his siblings at the age of 11. Upon graduation from the University of Manchester, Mr Lui worked at one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms in London, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. He then returned to the firm’s Hong Kong office and later joined another firm as Partner to broaden his experience in management consultancy. A solid believer in the city’s future after the return of its sovereignty to its motherland, Mr Lui was entrusted by a large US garment company in the early 1980s to head its business in Hong Kong and Greater China. After the handover, he started his own garment business, which flourished as the economy of Hong Kong grew relentlessly in the 1990s.
As well as his distinguished business career, Mr Lui is fully committed to his vision of providing educational opportunities to younger generations and empowering them to chase their dreams. Most notably, the Foundation started to build primary schools in rural China where, in the early 1990s, educational opportunities fell way short of those available in the cities. Since then, 183 schools have been built.
Mr Lui is known for pouring his heart and soul into the Foundation’s work. He has personally travelled to Chongqing, one of the priority areas that the Foundation supports, to see how he could be of service to the rural communities in the area, and initiated solutions to the various challenges faced by the schools. For example, with the belief that children should learn about hygiene from a young age, Mr Lui insisted on installing flushing toilets in every school. After several rounds of persuasion, he managed to equip the schools with a flushing toilet system, including a cistern, water pipes and a big water tower. He even helped enlarge the village reservoir to ensure the supply of water. The experiences made Mr Lui realise that in order to turn his vision into reality, he needed to be more detail-oriented, think a few steps ahead, and view issues from different perspectives.
Locally in Hong Kong, the Foundation has made multiple generous donations to universities and vocational training institutes in the form of bursaries, scholarships, and in particular service programmes, as Mr Lui believes that it is more important to instil in students the heart to serve. For instance, the Foundation has supported HKBU since 1993, and it is an Honorary Permanent President of the HKBU Foundation. Apart from bursaries and awards, it also established the Providence Foundation Elderly Care Programme in 2017 and the Positive Ageing Learners Programme in 2021. While these programmes, which have received a tremendous response from students and staff, encourage students to take steps to reach out to the world through active service, they also help to communicate the message of positive ageing to society.
The Foundation has made notable donations to the Hong Kong College of Paediatricians, the School of Medicine at Stanford University in the US, as well as the China Centre for Economic Research at Peking University. Apart from education, disaster relief is another area in which Mr Lui has been heavily involved since the early 1990s. When natural disasters occurred, such as droughts, earthquakes and snow storms, the Foundation would quickly respond to offer relief through partner organisations. He is pleased to see that since the mid-2000s, China does not have to rely on external help, as the country has strategically prepared to offer an instant response to natural disasters.
With his philanthropic and entrepreneurial spirit in full flight, Mr Lui always strives to have the greatest influence with the available resources. As such, the Foundation strategically supports service initiatives in the initial stages when they require the most assistance to become self-sustaining and viable. After the incubation period, the Foundation devotes its resources to new proposals. One typical example is the People’s Food Bank project by the St. James’ Settlement. Kick-started with the help of the Foundation, the project has developed well in some 10 years’ time and become a well-known initiative to provide food support to the needy on a short-term basis. True to his altruistic spirit, Mr Lui often shares his insights on the community’s needs with various local and regional charities, and he also proposes new projects that may fit with their service goals.
By adding value to society, Mr Lui has demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to making a difference for forthcoming generations in Hong Kong and mainland China. He is undoubtedly a shining example for the younger generations.