In Hong Kong, the term ‘social enterprise’ is slowly taking off, and more and more social enterprises have established. A recent survey shows that Hong Kong public’s awareness of social enterprise has raised significantly, but most of the people still believe that the main functions of social enterprise are helping the poor and creating jobs for the disadvantaged. One of the reasons maybe because we do not have a clear definition of social enterprise in Hong Kong at this stage. As more social startups are established, supporting organizations have also begun to increase in order to meet the overall development of social enterprise (such as the Social Enterprise Summit, Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises, Make a Difference … ). These organizations provide various types of support services and promotion of social enterprise.
Social enterprises and usual businesses are not quite different as they will also gain profits from products or services, however, they will actually have one more bottom line which is carrying a social mission. Social enterprise is not only creating social value in the production-sales-consumption operation but also allocate part of their income to support specific social purpose. Now, let’s take a look at Hong Kong Social Enterprise Ecosystem!
- Promoting the concept
As mentioned, there are still a lot of misunderstandings of social enterprise in Hong Kong as there is no clear definition here. However, the true meaning of social enterprise is actually delivering actively. Various tertiary education institutions such as Chinese University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, etc. are dedicated to introducing the concept of social enterprise innovation. In addition, The Hong Kong Government has also reinforced the concept of social enterprises to the public. For example, The Home Affairs Department of Hong Kong has set up a special page in order to introduce and promote SEs from multiple perspectives. As a result, it can enhance public awareness and understanding of SEs. The Home Affairs Bureau’s “Social Enterprise Summit” is also a great event for Hong Kong to promote the development of social enterprises once a year. Besides, non-government groups like the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), which advances social entrepreneurship and mobilizes social innovation in Hong Kong; Fullness Social Enterprises Society (FSES) also encourages social innovation in Hong Kong.
- Financial Support
It has also been mentioned in our previous articles that both government and private sectors are willing to invest in social enterprises. The Home Affairs Department’s “Enhancing Self Reliance” Program provides over $3 million post-seed funds to eligible social enterprise which help enhance self-sustainability, targeting socially disadvantaged groups in order to encourage sustainable poverty prevention and alleviation efforts. Social Welfare Department’s “Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprise Project” is also aimed at enhancing the employability rate for People of differences. Eligible social enterprise can also get max. $3 million grant. Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund” (SIE Fund) is definitely a well-known fund and it covers relatively broader sectors. Apart from government subsidies, local NGOs and enterprises also support social startups such as DBS Funds, SOW Asia, Social Ventures Hong Kong, Social Impact Partnership and so on. A dynamic investment market is really giving social startups a helping hand.
- Building Capability
We have just mentioned that there are a lot of support from various colleges and universities towards social innovation. For example, I‧CARE Centre offers i-CARE program for Whole-person Development to Chinese University students including Social Service Projects Scheme and Social Enterprise Startup Scheme in order to reinforce their caring spirit. At the same time, it can also help students to practice their social ideas. “Social Enterprise Innovation” and “Social Data Analysis” units were added in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Policy and Social Entrepreneurship this year. They enhance students’ knowledge of SEs and ability to establish SEs. In addition, Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises provides free social enterprise operational enhancement program in order to develop their entrepreneurs’ operating skills. SME one also provides five free services to social enterprises. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) launches the Impact Incubator in order to bring positive social impact through workshops and consultation.
- Building Community
Social startups can be registered in the “Social Enterprise Directory“. You can find a lot of like-minded entrepreneurs there. Some other communities like Dream Impact which is specializing in giving social enterprises and non-profit-making organizations a community platform, so they can work together with entrepreneurs and innovators who share similar values and ideas, as well as being able to find synergies and build partnerships with. There are also groups like SE Meet Up which has gatherings and sharings regularly so like-minded people can exchange ideas on social innovation.
If we want to spread social ideas and greater impacts to the society, we cannot rely only on one social enterprise or group, the entire ecosystem needs to grow and progress together, and collaborate with each other in order to prosper.