Shenzhen is looking to use its advantages in financial innovation to promote philanthropy by setting up a research center that combines the two.
The Social Finance and Innovation Center was established on Thursday by Shenzhen-based China Global Philanthropy Institute, the first of its kind in the country, initiated by Bill Gates and several other leading philanthropists.
Ma Weihua, the institute's chairman and former president and chief executive officer of China Merchants Bank Co Ltd, said it is the world's first research center to focus on the development of social finance and innovation.
Social finance is an approach to managing money that takes advantage of traditional economic models to solve social problems.
The research center will conduct professional studies, offer consulting services and make evaluations in an effort to push forward philanthropy by promoting innovation in social finance.
"Shenzhen is known for its financial, technological and industrial innovation. We should make good use of these advantages to foster social innovation and pave the way for the development of philanthropy," Ma said at the center's launch ceremony on Thursday.
Enthusiasm for philanthropy has been growing among businesses and individuals globally over recent years. According to JPMorgan Chase & Co, social investment worldwide has reached $10.6 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion within the next 10 years, accounting for one percent of the world's total wealth.
In China, an increasing number of business people are devoting themselves to philanthropy, not just by making donations, but also by taking related courses.
According to Wang Zhenyao, head of the China Global Philanthropy Institute, 44 students from across China have enrolled in its executive management of philanthropy program this fall.
The two-year program gives students both theoretical and practical knowledge on how to manage and engage in charitable activities, and how to utilize social finance for their cause.