Speech by CS at Social Enterprise Summit 2017 concluding session


Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the concluding session of the Social Enterprise Summit 2017 this afternoon (November 8):

Rebecca (Chair of the Organising Committee of the Social Enterprise Summit, Mrs Rebecca Yung), Antony (Group Chairman and CEO of Nan Fung Group, Mr Antony Leung), Kyle (author of "Profit and Purpose", US, Mr Kyle Westaway), Colin (Sales and Partnership Director, The WildHearts Group, UK, Mr Colin Downie), Reagan (Executive Secretary-General of Tencent Foundation, China, Mr Reagan Dou),

     Good afternoon. It is my great honour to witness the successful conclusion of the 10th Social Enterprise Summit. Let me first express my warmest congratulations to the organiser, Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum, and the 15 co-organisers of the Summit.

I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to Kyle, Colin and Reagan for their perceptive and inspiring keynote speeches, and to the 50 prominent speakers from around the world for sharing their insights and experience on driving the continuous development and raising public awareness of social enterprises and social innovation.

     In her maiden Policy Address last month, Mrs Carrie Lam, our Chief Executive, stated clearly that the Government should promote cross-sector and cross-profession collaboration, as well as public-private partnership, to make better use of our resources and provide more comprehensive care for the needy in Hong Kong. Indeed, doing things the traditional way cannot help us cope with the considerable demands in a changing environment. We need innovations and the co-operation of all quarters of society to explore new modes of service delivery to enhance our capacity and better suit the needs of the community.

     The Social Enterprise Summit promotes social entrepreneurship as an agent of social change and explores ways to enhance the business capabilities of social enterprises and social innovation.

Over the past decade, the Summit has raised significantly public awareness of social innovation and built a strong network among civil society, business corporations, academia and the Government here in Hong Kong.

     The theme of this year's Summit is "Unleashing Systemic Change". It has attracted over 3 000 participants from all over the world to identify opportunities for achieving systemic changes in social innovation in key areas such as business power, social technology, social finance, innovative social services and community entrepreneurship. The theme is indeed timely and sits very well with our policy objective of promoting social enterprises and creating social impact by supporting innovations that address poverty and social exclusion.

     The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to serving as the "promoter" and "facilitator" for the development of social enterprises in Hong Kong, with a view to fostering a new caring culture and enhancing social harmony.

We believe that social enterprises can help create employment opportunities for the disadvantaged and enable them to be self-reliant, while providing a new platform for the entire community to join hands to resolve social problems with innovative approaches and thinking.

     The development of social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong is encouraging. The number of social enterprises has increased threefold from about 200 to over 610 within the past 10 years. There is also an increasing trend in the business sector to invest in and outsource services to social enterprises.

The scope of services has become more diverse, extending from traditional retail and food and beverage industries to other fields such as elderly care, youth services, tourism, environmental protection, creative industries and service businesses.

     To provide seed grants for eligible organisations to set up social enterprises, the Social Welfare Department launched the Enhancing Self-Reliance Through District Partnership Programme in 2006. Since then, the Programme has approved a total of 205 projects, and thereby created more than 5 000 jobs, of which about 80 per cent of them are filled by the socially disadvantaged.

     We further introduced a new phase of the Programme in 2016, with enhancement measures to support existing social enterprises to expand their business beyond start-ups and, at the same time, encourage participation of commercial sectors to further promote the development of social enterprises.

     While no effort is spared to foster the growth of social enterprises, we also established the $500 million Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund) in 2013 to serve as a catalyst for social innovation among social enterprises in Hong Kong. By supporting cross-sectoral collaboration and capacity building, the SIE Fund seeks to build an ecosystem in which social enterprises and entrepreneurs can thrive, allowing their ideas, products and services to reach unmet demand and helping to alleviate problems of poverty and social exclusion.

     The SIE Fund develops the infrastructure of support for social innovation through leveraging its resources to bring new actors into the field or help existing agencies to scale up promising experiments, through adopting the collective impact approaches to engage stakeholders from different sectors to jointly solve specific social problems, and through encouraging every business to create shared value by reviewing their operation practice to advance social and economic conditions in the community.

     So far, the SIE Fund has supported a total of 83 social ventures, involving total funding of $32.5 million.

The projects have benefitted a wide spectrum of beneficiaries, including children, youth, elderly, people with disabilities, grassroots families and ethnic minorities.

     In addition to direct financial subsidy, the Government also provides training and other support services for social enterprises so as to build up their capacity and enhance their competitiveness. Last year, we sponsored the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to publish two handbooks on the operation and case analysis of social enterprises, serving as a reference guide for start-ups and other operators of social enterprises.

     Young people are our future. They are the most energetic and creative generation in our society, and they possess the greatest potential to drive the progress of our society.

That is why we particularly encourage young people to get involved in social entrepreneurship and translate their innovative ideas into action. To nurture young social entrepreneurs, the Government has provided annual funding support for the Centre for Entrepreneurship of the Chinese University of Hong Kong since 2008 to organise the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge. The Challenge seeks to encourage students to employ a creative entrepreneurial approach to solve social issues.

So far, around 6 700 students have participated in the programme. Among the 58 grand finalists, 27 have put their plans into practice and established their own social enterprises.

     We also help our social enterprises develop capacity and enhance their market competitiveness. To help them expand the market share and business network, we have been actively promoting their products and services to the public through media and online platforms as well as activities such as the Tithe Ethical Consumption Movement and other commodity and food trading events.

We also facilitate exchanges and discussions among relevant sectors including businesses, academia, community leaders, non-government organisations and government officials through cross-sector platforms like the Social Enterprise Summit today.

     We believe that cross-sectoral collaboration and innovative solutions leveraging modern technology can unleash the power of everyone to bring systemic changes to society. The Government will continue its roles as a "facilitator" and a "promoter" in the development of social enterprises and promotion of social innovation. We will partner with industry players to strengthen support for start-up social entrepreneurs and ventures by, for example, offering co-working space, and explore new funding modes to meet different funding requirements of social entrepreneurs.

Indeed, as part of the new initiatives of the current-term Government's inaugural Policy Address last month, we launched the Space Sharing Scheme for Youth two weeks ago, and I actually chaired the press conference, to provide a wide range of leasing options and supporting services for co-working space or studios for start-ups and young entrepreneurs at a concessionary rent no higher than half of market rental. We welcome young pioneers to make use of this scheme to join the social enterprise sector. The scheme is predicated on the corporate social responsibility and civic spirit of the business community and the unstinting support of non-government organisations at large.

It is a living and vivid example of tripartite co-operation of government, business and non-government organisations.

     On this note, let me convey my warmest congratulations once again to Rebecca and the 16 organisers for the successful conclusion of this year's Social Enterprise Summit. I also wish every one of you a rewarding afternoon, and those from overseas a pleasant and memorable stay in Hong Kong. Thank you.



Published on: 2017-11-08

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