International Women's Day - Featured Woman World-Changer: Serena Kao

Philanthropy started at a young age for Serena Kao. Daughter of Kao Shin Ping, founder of San The Group she is currently on the board of directors for their family foundation. The genesis of her philanthropy began when she was eleven years old, Serena’s neighbor and best friend came back from school frustrated and upset. Her friend had been assigned to go door to door selling Christmas Cards. “I can’t do that!” Serena’s friend exclaimed. “It’s embarrassing,” she confided.

But Serena Kao didn’t see what was so hard about the task, especially when she learned that artists with disabilities created these cards. She quickly sold the first 200 cards and eventually sold an additional 200 cards. She received her reward when one of these cards came back with 8 signatures belonging to those who had benefited from her work. This moment taught Serena a lesson that would change the course of her life. Though she was only a small child receiving barely enough allowance from her parents to go to school, eat a meal, and return home, she could still have a profound impact in enriching the lives of others.

Now 34, Serena is Serena’s pioneering new frontiers with her website Go Purpose which seeks to empower organizations to do good in the world. Go Purpose has two purposes. It exists first as a social awareness network and a funding platform raising money for social enterprise startups, small businesses, or project ideas. Using the website’s tools, potential donors can give towards these projects providing critical funds. This part of Go Purpose represents only the first half of the old adage about giving a man a fish; it will feed and sustain these projects but only for a short while. 

However, Go Purpose also teaches these organizations how to fish and sustain themselves. As an awareness raising platform, Go Purpose connects these organizations with the mentorship and resources that they need to develop their organizations into instruments of global change. Serena Kao highlights Nomi Network as their first soft-launch pilot project as an example. “For our first project, we chose Diana Mao and Nomi Network because they had this fresh new idea of empowering survivors of sex trafficking.” Providing former victims with economically viable skills allows them to avoid recidivism, sliding back into prostitution, since they can now provide for their own needs. Serena chose Nomi Network because of their past track record. “When Nomi showed us that they succeeded with their first investment, it gave other potential investors a lot of confidence. These (Nomi Network) were people who knew what they were doing.” And this serves to further Serena’s vision for Go Purpose which is to provide 20 and 30 somethings with a purpose. “At every stage of life, we all have a purpose. When we’re young, when we’re children, our purpose is to go to school and do well. We understand that. But when we grow up, and start making money, we so often forget that we have a greater responsibility and purpose.” On International Women’s Day we want to celebrate women who are making a difference. We are so thankful for women like Serena who want to make an even greater impact than they already are! Please visit to learn more and begin supporting Nomi’s campaign to end modern day slavery.

- Stanley Lee


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