Sometimes, big problems require big solutions. That’s exactly what Elaine Huang, an Engagement Manager in McKinsey’s Beijing office, concluded when she decided to create the China Children Insurance Fund (CCIF).

Through her work advising clients in China’s rapidly growing insurance market in China, Elaine discovered a serious gap in health insurance coverage for orphans and children living in China’s less developed rural areas.

Elaine had read countless stories in the news about the families of sick children trying to raise money for medical treatment. Yet one of the biggest problems they faced wasn’t access to money, but how quickly donations could reach the patients who needed it most.

Even when patients received donations, and often they did, the money didn’t always reach them in time to fund their treatments.

Surely there was something she could do to fix this, thought Elaine.

So she teamed up with a former colleague who shared her passion for social impact and reached out to the China Children Teenagers’ Foundation, one of China’s largest government-sponsored charities, for help.

“I told them that we had an idea and wanted to work together. Our plan was to raise funds and use the money to negotiate low-cost health insurance packages with Chinese insurers to buy coverage for oprhans and kids in rural areas. It was a bit of a struggle to get started since we weren’t affiliated with any big names, but we came up with some innovative solutions. We decided to go digital.”

CCIF was one of the first charities in China to approach internet giants like Alibaba, for sponsorship. They worked with Taobao to create the “Loving Heart” program, which allows merchants to donate a small amount from each of their products sold to the charity.

They were one of the first charities to setup an e-channel for donations with Alipay. To date, CCIF has raised over US$10 million and has distributed over 1.3 million insurance cards to people in need.

“Many charitable donations are driven by events, like a natural disaster, but they are not sustainable. We wanted to create a solution that would not only serve as a channel for donations, but also be one that would stick around. We decided the best way to setup and operate our charity was to treat it like a business.”

What inspires Elaine?

“A few years ago, I had the chance to listen to a speech given by the former CEO of Citigroup, Sandy Weill, during his trip to China. His advice?  Focus on doing something noble, something bigger than just earning money. His message really resonated with me. On top of having the chance to test drive my business skills, what motivates me most is getting to see the massive impact that programs like ours can have on people’s lives.”

For more information, visit the CCIF website.