Hong Kong, China

Population: 
7,241,700
Number of Business Networks: 9
Number of Private Sector Initiatives: 11
Number of Government Services: 9
Labor Force Participation Rate: 
60

Introduction

Hong Kong, China, has long been recognized in East Asia, the Pacific region, and beyond as one of the best places to be an entrepreneur. More...

Hong Kong, China, has long been recognized in East Asia, the Pacific region, and beyond as one of the best places to be an entrepreneur. As of September 2014, about 320,000 SMEs accounted for over 98 percent of total businesses and 47 percent of total employment. The city-state ranked third overall in the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business report. According to findings from Google and the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the startup ecosystem of Hong Kong, China, has grown by almost 300 percent between 2009 and 2014, with significant growth in physical hubs, start-up accelerators and incubators, funding providers, and university support. Hong Kong, China, is also known as the “world’s most connected city,” where enterprises use accessible, network-ready technologies to connect with suppliers, customers, service providers, and other key communities in new and innovative ways.

There is an increasing awareness on the part of local corporations to break the "glass ceiling" and provide more opportunities for women at the management level. This has resulted in an increase in female managers and administrators from 24 percent of all managers and administrators in 2000 to 31 percent in 2013, while female professionals increased from 32 percent to 38 percent and female associate professionals from 40 percent to 46 percent. At the top of the civil service, nearly half of all 18 Permanent Secretaries are female. Notwithstanding this, there is still room for improvement: the rate of women’s participation in the labor force was 54.5 percent in 2013, compared with 69.1 percent for men. Hong Kong, China, trails two-thirds of APEC members on this count. Research published in 2009 by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) further shows that the male-to-female ratio in early stage entrepreneurial activity in Hong Kong, China, is 2.2:1, compared with 1.3:1 in China and 1.7:1 in the United States. Women’s pay in Hong Kong, China, lags behind that of their male counterparts by an average of 20 percent. Fewer women in Hong Kong, China, work in venture capital and private equity firms; however, 49 percent of certified public accountants and 46 percent of solicitors were women in 2013. Only 2 percent of CEOs of companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are women. Compared with women in peer economies, women in Hong Kong, China,  are far less engaged as corporate board members than men. A study by Community Business, a local not-for-profit, recently found that just 11.1 percent of the board members among the Hang Seng Index’s leading companies were women. To address this issue, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange introduced a new Code Provision in 2013 requiring listed issuers to disclose their board diversity policy on a comply or explain basis.

On the one hand, women now attain educational milestones – including graduation from secondary school and universities – at the same or better rates than men. The Government has been promoting lifelong education for women. The Capacity Building Mileage Programme of the Women’s Commission offers lifelong learning courses to women through live classroom intervention, radio broadcasts, and e-learning online. On the other hand, at home and in school, women are less likely to take economic or employment-related risks and their economic participation falls significantly after marriage. The most recent Policy Address by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong contained a number of proposals to help women to stay in the workforce. The most recent Policy Address by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong contained a number of proposals to help women to stay in the workforce, such as encouraging employers to provide more part-time work opportunities or enhancing care services for women.

Research conducted by The Women’s Foundation, a Hong Kong, China, NGO, shows that female entrepreneurs value mentoring for personal and professional support. Further research by GEM has found that, compared with men, fewer women believe themselves to have the capabilities for entrepreneurship, and more are dissuaded from starting up due to fear of failure.

According to a 2013 study on women and entrepreneurship by The Women’s Foundation, women that spend time abroad report that they have a broadened mindset which makes them more positively inclined to embrace the risk of failure that is part of business entrepreneurship. Considered together, this hints at the key role of formal and informal networks, and the value of mentoring, in changing perceptions and advancing female entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, China.

Numerous organizations and online resources provide information on the landscape of support services available to entrepreneurs. The SME Creativity Center aggregates links to entrepreneur and women’s communities, banks, angel organizations, and business development resources. SME One (part of the Hong Kong Productivity Council) provides links to funding schemes and other resources to support local SMEs in their growth and development. StartmeupHK provides access to start-up incubators, government support programs, angel and venture capitalist resources, and links to co-work spaces, entrepreneurship clubs, workshops, seminars and start-up events. Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks has information on numerous incubation programs, technology support and laboratory services, business collaboration opportunities, and venture capital financing.

Given its vibrant, dynamic, and transparent conditions for entrepreneurship to flourish, Hong Kong, China is well positioned to make gains in women’s entrepreneurship. There is considerable room to introduce programs successfully adopted in other economies, including lending opportunities marketed directly toward women, business incubators for women-owned enterprises, increased mentoring opportunities, and strengthened business networks. 

As one of the world’s global business hubs, Hong Kong, China, is home to numerous business networks. Many of these organizations are Hong Kong, China, chapters of global business associations, and most are not targeted at women entrepreneurs. As summarized in a 2012 report  by The Women’s Foundation, “There are almost no gender-targeted policies and programs for women business owners in Hong Kong.”

Established women entrepreneurs can join one of the sector-specific Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) Departments, Trade Associations & Consulates to exchange information on policy developments and explore new markets and business opportunities. They may also seek membership in the Women Executives Club at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, allowing them to benefit from the Chamber’s networks in China and abroad.

The Women’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2004, stands out as a key provider of mentoring and networking opportunities and skills training for professional women and women entrepreneurs. The Foundation is in the process of launching a TWF Entrepreneurs Network with the support of a range of resource partners including ANZ Bank, Cisco, EY, Google and InvestHK, and in partnership with both for profit and social entrepreneurs groups including the Entrepreneurs Club, Heels & Deals, the HK Women Professionals and Entrepreneurs Association, the Golden Bauhinia Women Entrepreneurs Association and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service’s Social Enterprise members. TWF initiatives so far include a series of workshops sponsored by Google empowering women entrepreneurs to scale up using the Internet and online tools, and seminars with InvestHK to encourage overseas founders to start SMEs in Hong Kong in the consumer products sector. Another organization, the HK Women Professionals and Entrepreneurs Association has taken a number of approaches to women’s empowerment in Hong Kong, China. Unfortunately, its Women’s Business Start-Up Assistance Scheme seems to have lapsed in recent years.  

Networks that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

Since its inception in 2005, YBHK has disbursed interest-free loans (up to HK$100,000 , or approximately 13,000 USD) to 239 young entrepreneurs. Today, the organization provides business mentorship and professional consultancy services, as well as access to local...more

Networks that support women’s access to markets: 

Launched in 2009, this membership-based networking community helps women entrepreneurs connect (primarily online) with others around the world to promote and market their businesses and share lessons and insights. Membership provides access to online forums, member...more

Established in 2001 under the Hong Kong Federation for Women (HKFW), the HKFWEC brings together senior Hong Kong, China business women for activities, networking events, and cross-border exchanges with other women entrepreneurs in China, Chinese Taipei, and Asia-Pacific...more

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council B2B Marketplace is an online business-to-business marketplace that connects over 120,000 Hong Kong, China and Chinese suppliers with over 1...more

An online community that facilitates physical meetups between individuals with common interests, Meetup.com is a popular networking opportunity for SMEs in Hong Kong, China. One Meetup group, ...more

Networks that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

This membership-based organization (165 members as of September 2014) aims to develop a strong support network, create practical and innovative learning and business opportunities, and promote high professional standards for women entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, China. Since...more

Networks that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

Launched in 2009 with the support of a range of corporate partners, this one-year program aims to build a strong and supportive network bringing women with at least 10 years’ experience working in senior positions (mentors) together with young, energetic professional...more

Women hold just 11.1 percent of board seats in Hong Kong, China’s publicly listed companies, according to the publication Community Business. The Women’s Foundation is addressing this through a series of initiatives that stimulate demand for women on boards and promote...more

Networks that support women and innovation and technology: 

A chapter of Women Who Code was established in Hong Kong, China, linking the economy to one of the largest communities of women engineers in the world. Women Who Code is a global nonprofit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers by creating a global,...more

The private sector in Hong Kong, China, has not been particularly visible in supporting women entrepreneurs. A handful of global companies, Google and Harvey Nash among them, are beginning to pilot initiatives to reach women entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, banking services tailored for women are absent. The only member of the Global Banking Alliance for women in Hong Kong, China, is Standard Chartered, but it does not appear to provide any women-specific services through its SME banking services. Neither the bank’s Women in Business Resource Centre or Goal Girls initiatives implement activities in Hong Kong, China. There are, however, some global business financing initiatives from which Hong Kong, China women entrepreneurs can benefit, such as the Global Banking Alliance for Women.

Initiatives that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

Part of the Ellevate global women’s network acquired by former bank executive Sally Krawcheck in May 2013, this 30,000-strong community provides networking opportunities, in-person and web-based training, and information seminars, and helps obtain investments for its...more

This annual global competition organized by Invest Hong Kong looks for early to growth stage (category one) or concept and prototype stage (category two) ventures whose founders aim to expand their business globally from Hong Kong, China. The program’s corporate sponsors...more

Initiatives that support women’s access to markets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Initiatives that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

The E-Club aims to assist established and evolving entrepreneurial businesses in getting to the next level of their business through differentiation, going global, up-scaling, and valuation. The club offers opportunities for networking and regularly invites influential...more

Established in 2011 in New York City, General Assembly is a private organization that conducts hands-on, project-based training in technology, business and design. The Hong Kong, China, chapter has full-time courses on web development and part-time courses on digital...more

This one-year program began in 2013 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and helps students and young entrepreneurs (including women) to innovate and connect with the global community through a mentorship program, entrepreneurship skills training, and a sponsored trip...more

Established in 2013 with seed funding from the government (and ongoing funding from RGL Holdings), the SCC supports local SMEs in their design and creative processes to make them more innovative and competitive. The SCC hosts events and provides links to resources...more

This initiative by the Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship (FYSE) aims to create a new paradigm for women as social entrepreneurs by supporting sustainable, scalable, and innovative solutions to the world’s toughest problems and by positively impacting the...more

This program, begun in September 2011, aims to encourage greater economic self-reliance and a better quality of life for women participants and their families through financial literacy training and follow-on employability training. Funding by Barclays (with a matching...more

Initiatives that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

This program created by Harvey Nash and the University of Hong Kong (with support from The Women’s Foundation and Community Business) seeks to address the imbalance and underrepresentation of women in boardrooms by equipping participants with skills and knowledge to...more

Initiatives that support women and innovation and technology: 

This one-year program, started in April 2013 by Google and Hong Kong Associations, and implemented by Entrepreneurs Club, seeks to empower women in Hong Kong, China, to catalyze their businesses using the Internet; to provide practical assistance; and showcase successful...more

Institutional and policy frameworks are favorable for entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, China, and women are allowed to work in the same sectors, under the same conditions, and at the same hours as men. While there are a number of government-backed SME support programs available for all entrepreneurs, no government bodies focus specifically on women’s business ownership or women’s entrepreneurship. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the central vehicle through which the government supports trade promotion and growth of SMEs. Many government-backed credit services provide loans to SMEs, but they are not women-specific.

There are a variety of government services that support technology firms or tech entrepreneurs (for example, through the Innovation and Technology Fund), and other special focus areas include the youth, innovation, and competitiveness, but not women.

The Government attaches great importance to promoting the overall well-being of women. The Women's Commission, established in 2001, plays a high-level strategic role in advising the Government on policies, legislation and services affecting women. With the assistance of the Women's Commission, the Government has since 2002 started to implement gender mainstreaming in a progressive manner, taking into consideration the perspectives and needs of women and men in formulating relevant policies and measures. The Government has developed and applied a Gender Mainstreaming Checklist, comprised of key principles and approaches, to over 45 specific policy or program areas. The Government sets a gender benchmark to increase women’s participation in public sector advisory and statutory bodies. The benchmark has been progressively increased from 25 percent in 2004 to 35 percent in 2015. Public services for the needs or aspirations of entrepreneurs are mostly gender neutral. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority reports that banking services in Hong Kong, China, are mostly gender neutral, as are other private commercial day-to-day services.

Given the abundance of services available to Hong Kong, China, entrepreneurs but the dearth of services targeted to women specifically, prominent schemes and programs which take a gender-blind approach to entrepreneurship support are set forth in this section.

Services that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

A service offered by the Innovation and Technology Commission, this program plays the role of angel investor with minimal government intervention. The aim is to support Hong Kong, China innovation and entrepreneurship through financial assistance to technology companies...more

Entrepreneurs with SMEs registered in Hong Kong, China, can apply to this Trade and Industry Department fund to receive loans for acquiring business installations and equipment, and meeting working capital needs. To date, HK$45.55 billion of loans have been approved.more

Services that support women’s access to markets: 

An annual expo that serves as a one-stop marketplace for SMEs to access new market opportunities in China and overseas, and trade support. SMEs also have access to service providers and information sources in numerous areas: financial services, IT and e-business,...more

The EMF, of the Trade and Industry Department, helps SMEs expand their businesses by encouraging participation in export promotion activities and exploration of new markets and business opportunities. Any manufacturing business employing fewer than 100 persons, or non-...more

Services that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

The Women’s Commission (WoC) was established by Hong Kong, China in 2001 as a high-level central mechanism to address women’s issues, develop a long-term vision and strategy for the development and advancement of women, and advise on policies and initiatives which are of...more

This center provides SMEs with all the resources needed to do business, and serves as a one-stop shop for comprehensive services in export marketing. Workshops and seminars provide information on business strategy, marketing strategies, business management and more....more

This initiative provides support services to start-ups at each stage of their lifecycle, from business plan improvement to management techniques, customized business matching services, trade fairs, online promotion, or consultation on market expansion.more

Services that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

WoC meets regularly and special meetings are convened to discuss topical issues. The Commission also organizes workshops, meetings and exchange sessions to discuss specific issues with women’s groups and NGOs. Every year the WoC sets a theme for funding; the theme for...more

Services that support women and innovation and technology: 

This fund was established in 2005 under the Innovation and Technology Fund but became self-funded from February 2012, with a goal to support the development of the Hong Kong, China, ICT industry. Through the program, resident ICT entrepreneurs are given grants of up to...more