Niu Gensheng (Chinese: 牛根生) (January 25, 1958-), founder of the Chinese dairy giant Mengniu Dairy, is a legendary entrepreneur and philanthropist.
He began as a worker in a dairy producer in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, in 1978, and worked his way up the career ladder to become the Vice CEO of Inner Mongolia Yili Group, one of the largest dairy manufacturers in China, in 1998.
A year later, he left his comfortable position at Yili Group, which provided him with considerable pay and bonuses, to set up Mengniu Dairy, then a small producer, and transformed it into a listed company in Hong Kong within five years.
In 2003,CCTV named him as one of the year’s outstanding businessmen. The jury described him thus: “He is a bull [Niu means Bull in Chinese], but he runs at a rocket’s speed.”
In 2004, Niu set up the Lao Niu Foundation, a philanthropic organization that helps a number of charitable issues, including education and environment protection. In January 2005, Niu donated all his shares of Mengniu Dairy to the foundation.
The melamine milk scandal in 2008, which involved many of the country’s top milk producers, dealt a heavy blow to Mengniu Dairy, whose share price plummeted to an all-time low. At a critical moment, China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation, the country’s largest food manufacturer and trader, injected capital into Mengniu Dairy, saving the dairy giant from bankruptcy.
On June 11, 2011, Niu resigned from the chairman of the board of directors of Mengniu Dairy.