Posted: 19 Jul 2011
Hi Edward! Tell us about Harley-Davidson and Ride 4 Hope.
It all started as a sub-segment of the Harley Owners Club, which doesn’t have a social mission per se, and I wanted to start a group that also welcomes other riders on different models, like Ducati, BMW or Yamaha. Ride 4 Hope organises rides with motorcycle enthusiasts to raise money for charities. We write our own cheques a lot of the time but the publicity we generate also gives exposure to the charities we support.
And how long have you been doing this kind of work?
I started in mid-2006. I’m a hedge fund manager and I write a [weekly] column for the Hong Kong Economic Journal. I thought it would be a boring exercise if I just wrote about the market every Monday and I wanted to write a bit about how we can… change the world. When I began Ride 4 Hope, I started dedicating some parts of my column to it. We are not a charitable organisation on our own, but we assist charities on the side.
Don’t hedge fund managers and philanthropists make for strange bedfellows?
I see a lot of people who go into this industry when they are young, wanting to extract as much as possible in a monetary sense, and they don’t think about anything else. After 10 years of working, I recommitted myself to my faith [Christianity] and realised that although no one can change the world, we can all do some social good. It’s something we’ve got to do, even if it’s in a small way.
How do you raise money for charities? And how do you choose which ones to sponsor?
I carry influence with the media. In my column, the last 300 words are usually about social good and Ride 4 Hope activities. We did a ride for the Home of Loving Faithfulness in Sheung Shui, which helps children with special needs, and one anonymous donor gave $500,000. Generally, our rides raise around $100,000. Some time ago we did a ride in Cambodia for eight days to raise money for Choices, which helps sex workers in the Yau Tsim Mong district. We usually work with smaller NGOs because they need more exposure.
Last week you organised a ride to support Habitat for Humanity in Disneyland. What happens on your charity rides?
Well first of all, we never race in our rides, we just cruise. We sometimes start on Chatham Road and go to the New Territories, like Luk Keng Village, or sometimes Shek O. We also ride to China too. For Habitat for Humanity, we rode to Disneyland and posed with our bikes so supporters and the media could take pictures with us.
Why do you love Harley-Davidson bikes so much?
The first bike I had was a Sportster. I bought that in 2006. I started riding, albeit illegally, in Macau. I actually noticed the brand when I studied about its stock as a fund manager. I now ride a Dyna.
Cool! Do you have a ride buddy?
My wife, who rode with me in Cambodia… all eight days!
Interview: Tess Ma