Kongsi or "clan halls", are benevolent organizations of popular origin found among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname. This type of social practice arose, it is held, several centuries ago in China. The Chinese word ''Kongsi'' is used in modern Chinese to mean a commercial "company".
The system of ''kongsi'' was utilized by Chinese throughout the diaspora to overcome economic difficulty, social ostracism, and oppression. In today's overseas Chinese communities throughout the world, this approach has been adapted to the modern environment, including political and legal factors. The kongsi is similar to modern business partnerships, but also draws on a deeper spirit of cooperation and consideration of mutual welfare.
It has been stated by some that the development and thriving of Chinese communities worldwide are the direct result of the kongsi concept. A vast number of Chinese-run firms and businesses were born as ''kongsi''--many ending up as multinational conglomerates. In the Chinese spirit, derived in large part from Confucian ideals, these kongsi members or their descendants prefer not to boast so much of their wealth but to take pride in earning worldly and financial success through their work ethic and the combined efforts of many individuals devoted to group welfare.
Among the largest Kongsi was the Kongsi, which organised the mostly Hakka Chinese miners who had settled in western Borneo and established a republic, the Lanfang Republic, in what is now the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan.