Our Story

The Hinrich Foundation was established by Merle A. Hinrich in 2012, a global business leader and philanthropist. Mr Hinrich dedicated his 60-year career in Asia to facilitating the participation of emerging Asian economies in trade, driven by the belief that global trade helps break down barriers between nations by creating mutual interest, understanding and trust.

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A journey that began six decades ago

Mr. Hinrich’s journey started in 1964, when he was granted a scholarship to study at the American Institute of Foreign Trade – which is now called the Thunderbird School of Global Management. The school’s mantra – “Border frequented by trade seldom need soldiers” – left a powerful imprint on the young graduate, and inspired his future endeavors.

Subsequent work experiences in Japan, Taiwan and Korea in the 1960s further shaped his belief that trade promotes growth and development. By 1970 his first venture was born: Asian Sources, which later became Global Sources, a B2B trade media company to facilitate business transactions between Asian manufacturers and Western customers. A scholarship program was subsequently created to build talent in trade and support that goal.

“Peace is a natural effect of trade, but only when trade is mutually beneficial and sustainable for peace and prosperity.”

Merle A. Hinrich

After spending more than three decades assisting companies and countries from Japan to Pakistan with their export development, Mr. Hinrich’s view of free, fair, and reciprocal trade started to evolve. He began to see how critically important it was for trade to be mutually beneficial with balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes for long-term peace and prosperity.

He created the Hinrich Foundation to build leadership in trade, to research and to promote the conditions for making trade more sustainable.