Food app founder to give away half of wealth


“Ten years ago, when I was running a small company of less than 20 employees, I read an article about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (pic) making the pledge and had a wild dream of one day making the pledge myself, ” Kim wrote in a statement. “It is very overwhelming that I am making such a pledge, today.”

SEOUL: The founder of South Korean food-delivery app Woowa Brothers Corp and his wife are the latest to sign the Giving Pledge initiative, vowing to donate at least half of their wealth.

With Kim Bong-jin and Bomi Sul, the number of signatories increased to 219, with contributors from 25 countries. Billionaires Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda started the effort in 2010, urging the ultra-rich to give away most of their fortunes to philanthropy or charitable causes.

“Ten years ago, when I was running a small company of less than 20 employees, I read an article about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett making the pledge and had a wild dream of one day making the pledge myself, ” Kim wrote in a statement.

“It is very overwhelming that I am making such a pledge, today.”

Kim founded Woowa, now the country’s largest food-delivery app, in 2010. Germany’s Delivery Hero SE took majority control of the privately held company for US$4bil more than a year ago, and Kim’s 9.89% stake listed in the 2019 annual statement, the latest available, would be worth almost US$400mil at that valuation, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The 44-year-old had humble beginnings, he wrote in the Giving Pledge statement. The home where he lived with his family in a small South Korean island didn’t have a proper bedroom for him, and he could barely afford his way through an art college, he said.

He credits “good luck and God’s grace” for his accomplishments and started giving away his fortune in 2017. He donated US$9mil to philanthropy in three years, which he called “the best decision of our lives so far”.

While Kim and his wife didn’t detail how they planned to give away their fortune, they said they aimed to “resolve the issue of educational inequality, support arts and culture, and establish an organisation that could help philanthropic institutions in carrying out their work.”

Earlier this month, Brian Kim, the founder of South Korea’s top mobile-messenger operator, Kakao Corp, promised to donate more than half of his wealth to solve social issues, without giving details. He is worth US$8.9bil, according to the Bloomberg wealth index. ─ Bloomberg

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