Canadian-Chinese Education Entrepreneur Sherman Jen becoming a Billionaire
By bringing the idea of Canadian Education standards to back home in China Sherman Jen is making headlines with his China Maple Leaf Education.
Expanding enrollments and optimism about growth in spending on education by mainland Chinese helped lift China Maple Leaf Education Chairman Sherman Jen into the ranks of the world’s billionaires this week.
Jen, 64, owns approximately 54% of Hong Kong-listed Maple Leaf Education, a stake worth $ 1 billion at Thursday’s closing price of HK$10.84. The stock ended unchanged on Friday; it has gained more than 70% in the past year.
Mainland-born Jen had wrapped up a successful run as a textile and apparel trader in Hong Kong in the 1980s, moved his family to Vancouver, and was casting about for his next pursuit when he came to appreciate how much his family “loved the Canadian school life.” He then started to explore the idea of bringing Canadian-standard education back home to China through private schools.
Jen didn’t initially find much encouragement from officials in Beijing and several other cities. “They said I was crazy,” Jen recalled in an interview with Forbes China last year. He pitched curriculum that matched that of British Columbia, looking to graft it together with Chinese education and entwines the strengths of two nations. He ultimately found support from government officials in the northeastern city of Dalian and opened his first school in 1995.
Today, China Maple Leaf has emerged as one of the most successful private sector educators in China, a performance that helped the company make the 2017 Forbes China “Up and Comers List.” China Maple Leaf currently operates 75 schools from preschool to high school in 18 cities throughout China and two in Canada, serving more 28,000 students.
Maple Leaf is one of several publicly traded Chinese education companies whose share price has soared in the past year. Others include U.S.-listed New Oriental, which has gained two-thirds, and TAL Education, whose shares have more than doubled.
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