About Us

A few words from Tat Lam, Founder & CEO

Mission Statement

Social Development is a much needed humanitarian practice in developing regions globally for which “inclusion, cohesion, resilience, citizen security and accountability as the operational principles… promotes better growth, better projects and better quality of life.

-The World Bank 

Shanzhai City’s mission is to enable people to make a better world through global access to deeper insight. We seek to revolutionize an inclusive economy that creates holistic impact to society and our environment, by empowering the developing world with data.

Our philosophy starts with listening, watching, and learning directly from where social innovation begins - in grassroots communities, with whom we advance data literacy and provide insights to co-develop locally-grown ideas that promote sustainability in developing regions and ethical practices worldwide.

How we do it

We are developing a proprietary cloud-based technology to collect data from grassroots communities in underdeveloped areas, to provide automated social impact analysis and insights to social investors, stakeholders, and change makers.

Our method prioritizes front-line technology-to-human integration sensitive to the needs of grassroots communities in developing regions. This allows promotion of holistic community engagement and solves on-the-ground problems with low-tech solutions. It is driven by a high-tech methodology that converges data science and social science, bringing the power of the cloud into the field, for everyone.

Shanzhai City’s mission is to enable people to make a better world through global access to deeper insight. We seek to revolutionize an inclusive economy that creates holistic impact to society and our environment, by empowering the developing world with data.

Our philosophy starts with listening, watching, and learning directly from where social innovation begins - in grassroots communities, with whom we advance data literacy and provide insights to co-develop locally-grown ideas that promote sustainability in developing regions and ethical practices worldwide.

About Shanzhai City

Established early 2015, Shanzhai City is a social enterprise promoting community self-agency through low-tech grassroots innovation in developing regions, powered by high-tech cloud analytics solutions. We develop methodologies and data analytics technologies that produce insights for improving lives.

Our goal is to help purpose driven enterprises, impact investors, and government agencies to analyze, evaluate, and predict intended social impacts by converging data science and social science on the cloud and in the field. On the cloud, we combine local knowledge and expert insights with machine learning accessible through a web-based dashboard, and in the field, we deploy sensitive technologies appropriate to the needs of working directly with people in developing regions to capture reliable data in remote areas. We call this Impact LearningTM, a cloud analytics platform for providing real time insights empowering social programs, stakeholders, policy administrators, impact funds, and end-beneficiaries to make better decisions towards co-creating positive impact, together.

Shanzhai City is a young social development technology startup located in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and San Francisco. Our initial endeavor is to develop and provide solutions in China and Southeast Asia, with the objective of expanding worldwide wherever data can help make lives better.


The Shanzhai City team is committed to working with open hearts, truly caring about the communities and clients we serve, because we know that our collaborations will make long-lasting impacts that can make positive change in people’s lives, the places they work and live. To address the diverse nature of societal change, we bring together an interdisciplinary team that combines expertise in community building, data science, education, strategic planning, business design, urban data, and social impact metrics in order to discover, create, and support meaningful projects.

Our founders, Tat Lam and Chris Gee, have been working together for the past decade, committed to researching and designing solutions for communities in developing regions of China, forging the vision and inception of Shanzhai City and its founding team. We are all proud and excited:


tat lam

Tat Lam, Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Tat Lam founded Shanzhai City after dedicating over a decade of working in urban, informal, and village developments throughout China, identifying the need for the creation of a social development agency that addresses both market and policy failures in a rapidly developing country. An insightful expert in China’s developmental issues, Tat directed an urban development think tank in China (URB), consulting private and government entities on large-scale developmental projects,, with clients such as China government entities, urban planning commission in many cities, Vanke Group, Poly Real Estate Development, and grassroot underserved communities in both rural and urban China. Dr. Tat Lam developed anthropological research methods for socio-spatial design during his doctoral degree at The UCL (London) from which was applied towards his consultancy practice in China. As lead research scholar and founder at China Megacities Lab at Columbia University since 2007 and faculty member of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Tat Lam is intimately involved with international academic resources. Most recently Dr. Lam was executive curator of the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in 2013.

christopher gee

Chris GeeFounder, Deputy CEO

Mr. Chris Gee has spent the past 19 years in the non-profit arts sector doing community building, media empowerment, and education, combining expertise in urban studies, filmmaking, and ethnographic research in developing regions across the world. Chris and Tat have collaborated for the past 8 years in China, and inspiring them to co-found Shanzhai City as a means to go beyond the limitation of think tanks, academia, and typical for-profit models. Recent experience includes being the Creative Director of the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in 2013, Media Director at the Urbanus Research Labs, and Adjunct Assistant Professor for Urban Design Thesis at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, with a focus on “fringe urbanism”. At Columbia University, Chris gained his Masters degree in Architecture, was a research assistant at China Megacities Lab, and research fellow with the William Kinne Foundation. In San Francisco, his formative experience was organizing in the creative and nonprofit sectors as Director of Education at the Bay Area Video Coalition, Program Coordinator at the California College of Arts, and as Film Curator for the San Francisco American Institute of Architects.

Founding Partners

howie chan

Howie Chan, Founding Partner, Business Development

Integral to on-the-ground development of future initiatives and programs, Mr. Chan is changing the landscape of responsible investment in China through the development of Shanzhai City’s social impact investment and social entrepreneurial network into action. Howie has made strategic partnerships and alignments with such organizations like World Kindness China and Impact Investment Funds, as well as nation-wide foundations dealing with poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and early childhood development. Prior to Shanzhai City, Howie served as Director of Operations for Aleybo, a division of King’s Flair, a China based and Hong Kong listed publicly traded company. In this role, Mr. Chan led all aspect of operating the Aleybo’s China office. He led product design, branding, marketing, developed business and operational strategy for building, operating and supports the company’s retail outlets, which grew to over 100 locations, an online store, and mobile platform. In addition, Mr. Chan business negotiation for exclusive licensing and distribution of top kitchen products and brands in China. They include Mikasa (Kitchen Aid brand,) Contigo (#1 brand for travel mug in the US), and Zyliss (kitchen tools).

Core Team

yijing xu

Yijing Xu, Impact Project Management

Yijing Xu is an architect and curator from China and New Zealand. A gifted community maker, Yijing's ability in communicating and mediating between culture, community and commerce has underpinned many high profile events and projects over the past decade, including her dedicating 5 years in Dashilar development in Beijing, an innovative community making project in historical Hutong area. She was the exhibition manager for Beijing Design Week and Yixian Photo Festival. These experiences have given her a unique cross-sectional view of organizations large and small, which helps in ensuring smooth operations, as well as targeted capacity building for both clients and beneficiaries.

neil gaddes

Neill Gaddes, Product Management

Neill Gaddes is a practitioner engaged in Place Making and Urbanism within China. With a background in Industrial Design, his pragmatic and collaborative approach has been tested through numerous successfully completed projects, from bottom-up "happenings" to top-down urban revitalization planning and implementation. Neill is committed to developing methodologies and tools to enable communities and organizations to approach and solve the problems important to them. He developed economic models and business scorecard system for Dashilar community development and dedicated more than 5 years working with the local community for capacity building.

Tim Lin, Impact Project Management

Tim has strived to expand Shanzhai City’s business and corporate governance in China. Through extensive research on tools for social impact assessment together with China’s social reality, he conducts fieldwork and analyze impact of projects in China. Over the past ten years, Tim is devoted to applying design thinking into business, he worked as an assistant manager for the department of landscape and urban design in a renowned architecture firm in China, to help the top properties groups in the region to explore new possibilities in their businesses.

Peter Ko, Director of Finance

Peter is actively bridging his mainstream finance and corporate experience and his interest in social impact in his practice. He is developing corporate strategies for Shanzhai City to grow into a more holistic and visionary business case with strong social mission and adaptive to contemporary finanical system.

He used to be an Investment Director at the Hong Kong office of Elliott Management Corp, a global multi-strategy hedge fund based in New York. He was responsible for investments in Asia Pacific, focusing on strategies such as shareholder activism, event-driven and special situations. Before that, he was an Associate at the Investment Banking Department of NM Rothschild & Sons in London, providing M&A, corporate finance and debt restructuring advice in Healthcare and Technology, Media and Telecom sectors. Peter received a Bachelor of Laws degree at the London School of Economics.


Ye Lei, Administration

Ye Lei, Business Administration
Ms. Ye Lei received Master of Social Science in Media Management from Hong Kong Baptist University. She works in Shanzhai City responsible for media, business and marketing development.

Jessica Cheung, Urban Innovation Researcher

Jessica is developing social innovation solutions, urban development metrics and impact measurement strategies. She is a domain expert specialized in creating resilient developmental models for grassroots communities. She received master degree from Columbia University Urban Design Program. She is also a faculty member at CUHK teaching urban innovation seminar.

Terrence Lam, Lead Software Engineer

Mr. Lam uses his coding and product development skills to help build social development technologies for our software ecosystem. Mr. Lam received his Bachelor and Master in Computer Engineering from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He was the CIO in Hong Kong Financial Asset Management Corporation, He founded Shenzhen Jin Teng Technology Co., Ltd. in 2014 , and served as general manager.

Nicos Kekchidis, Chief Architect

Nicos Kekchidis is a leader in building scalable distributed computing and cloud analytics platform with modern data science in mind. Nicos has over twenty years of product development and consulting experience in enterprise application integration, cloud management and data science space with the primary focus on adoption of the cutting edge tools, solutions and processes.
His extensive technology leadership experience at visionary start-up companies like Tibco, Vitira, ClearApp balanced with pragmatism of the established companies like HP and Oracle brings a unique blend of innovation in data science with maturity needed for successful elimination of data-literacy gap in the developing world that Shanzhai City is bound to achieve.


Helmuth Aberer
(Global Finance, HK)
Impact Business Designer,
Executive Coach

Warren Ang
(Impact Strategy, HK)
Director, Global Development Incubator (Asia)

David Deeths
(Tech for Good, SF)
Director - Technology Strategy & Development, VMWare

Danil Nagy
(Urban Data Science, NY)
Adjunct Prof at Columbia University
Senior Research Scientist at Autodesk

James Hsu
(Legal Navigator, SF)
Senior VP of Legal & Business Affairs, Tilting Point

Prabhakar Krishnamurthy
(Data Science, SF)
Director, Yahoo! Labs
Data Science Leader

Louise Lai
(Outreach & Growth, SH)
Founder / MD,
Design Venture Fund

Gregory Mark-Hill
(Impact Investment, NY)
Management Partner, GCH Partners
Senior Advisor, Ashoka