Civil service exam trainers become China's richest education entrepreneurs

Mother-son duo now hold US$8.4 billion in assets, up 224 percent from a year earlier. They are followed by heads of TAL Education and New Oriental.

Li Yongxin, 43, and his mother, Lu Zhongfang, from the China civil service exam trainer Offcn, have become the richest entrepreneurs in education in China, according to the Hurun China Rich List 2019 released in Shanghai on Thursday.

Li and Lu hold US$8.4 billion in assets, up 224 percent from a year earlier. 

Behind them in the same industry are Zhang Bangxin of after-school tutoring service platform TAL Education, with US$6.3 billion in assets; and Yu Minhong of the English-language school New Oriental, with US$2.85 billion.

Two other new faces in the top 5 of education entrepreneurs are Wu Junbao of Anhui-based vocational training provider China East Education, with US$2.15 billion; and Chen Xiangdong of K-12 after-school tutoring service provider Genshuixue with US$1.5 billion. China East Education provides training in culinary arts and information technology, as well as auto services with sales last year of US$260 million.

“Making money in the field of education in China has gone through a big transformation these past two years,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.

Meanwhile, Zhejiang University and Peking University had the most alumni on the Hurun Rich List, with 39 and 38 individuals respectively. Shanghai Jiao Tong University and China Science and Technology University also had good years, breaking into the top 10 alumni. 

"The spirit of entrepreneurship is red hot amongst the alumni of China’s top universities. Curiously, though, 45 percent did not go to university, graduating instead from the ‘University of Life’,” said Hoogewerf.

In general, Alibaba's founder and former chairman Jack Ma, 55, retained the top spot for the second straight year with US$39 billion in assets. 

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