The Social Enterprise Landscape in Hong Kong has evolved rapidly since the Social Enterprise Summit (SES) was first established in 2008. Social Enterprises with their roots in providing employment opportunities for disadvantaged communities characterised the initial first wave of organisations, they laid the groundwork and built public awareness of the role that purpose could play when positioned at the centre of a business’ strategy.
More recently social enterprises have diversified away from this initial cross-subsidy model and now deliver a whole range of products and services that tackle some of the major challenges faced by the city, operating in education, elderly services, the arts and mental health, to name just a few. Social Enterprises established in the last 5 years in Hong Kong are more focused on trading directly with the general public or corporates than with government, and a social enterprise established today in Hong Kong is also more likely to adopt a for-profit legal form. These recent trends are encouraging as they highlight that the social enterprise sector in Hong Kong is entering the mainstream of the Hong Kong economy and starting to address social and environmental issues at scale.
At the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Summit (SES), we are delighted to come together with other key sector actors, the General Chamber of Social Enterprises (GCSE) and the Social Enterprise Business Centre (SEBC) to partner with the British Council to present this report. We are also really keen that the data that we have collected in Hong Kong can contribute to regional efforts led by the British Council and social enterprise partners across Asia to build a picture of the social enterprise landscape across the Asia Pacific region as a whole.
Although great progress has been made in recent years, more needs to be done, our study reveals that social enterprises still struggle to access finance, which is hampered by a lack of understanding amongst grant makers and investors alike around how to structure funding and finance for a business entity that is set up to achieve social impact, there is also a need for more patient growth capital to complement the numerous start-up funds and programmes that already exist in Hong Kong.
As the social enterprise sector in Hong Kong has innovated, there is also a need to diversify the non-financial support on offer, which should be more targeted and focused on the specific growth stage, or business type as well as sector or issue specific as well. Long term mentoring is required for the emerging leaders within the social enterprise community in Hong Kong to ensure they can survive and thrive in the increasingly uncertain global context.
Covid-19 has impacted social enterprises in Hong Kong in a number of ways, like any business, it has made the operating environment tough, but equally it has led to innovation and adaptation by the sector. Impact driven businesses will be central to the post-pandemic recovery.
I hope this report will stimulate dialogue and lead to action to further strengthen the social enterprise eco-system in Hong Kong. The SES intends to take the results of these discussion forward through its open knowledge hub and will support action to further develop the social innovation ecosystem in the city.
Mrs Rebecca Choy Yung
Chair, Organising Committee of Social Enterprise Summit
Full Report (This content is available in English only)