The Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund (the “Fund”), a not-for-profit initiative run by Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA), today shared its achievement in investment, internship and training programs on its first year of operations since establishment in November 2015.
The Fund’s investment program saw encouraging results in the first year. After assessing over 500 business proposals submitted by local hopefuls, the Fund invested about HK$78 million (or US$10 million) into six promising startups in e-commerce, O2O and media sectors across all funding stages. The six visionary startups - Shopline, YEECHOO, Grana, GoGoVan, NOSH and DayDayCook - reported significant growth during their first year of investment from the Fund, and the importance to the wider economy can be seen in the job-creation potential of these firms which saw on average 36% rise in staff over the last year. To further expand the horizons of the respective founders, constructive meetings were arranged with Alibaba’s business units and affiliated companies to discuss potential collaboration and explore synergies, which these companies can leverage to scale up their business operation both locally and regionally.
Mrs. Cindy Chow, executive director of the Fund, said: “The encouraging performance of the six portfolio companies has shown that provided the right resources and support, the growth potential of Hong Kong-based startups is significant. We noticed over the past year, the startup community in Hong Kong has experienced rapid growth, with many quality startups in the e-commerce, O2O, logistics, fintech, healthtech and internet of things sectors emerging.”
In its approach to this sector, Alibaba recognizes that attracting new talent to the workforce and education for those within it is just as important to support direct investment. In line with this, the Fund runs an internship program that has attracted over 800 applications from Hong Kong universities. During the 6-month internship, students were placed throughout the companies within Alibaba’s ecosystem. For the 2016 intake, over 60% of the interns worked in platform operation positions and got first-hand experience in running Alibaba’s record-breaking Singles Day in November. For those already in the workforce, the “Taobao E-commerce Training Program” offered professional training during the weekends for participants who are interested to learn the theory and operations skills required for the e-commerce sector. The Fund has also facilitated the first “CEO e-commerce class” in Hong Kong, run by Taobao University, to share with senior executives of corporates the latest trends and skills in e-commerce.
Looking to 2017, the Fund will continue to support Hong Kong’s budding entrepreneurs through capital investment, and help already invested companies to scale up their business presence faster by tapping into Alibaba’s ecosystem and network resources globally. In addition, the Fund will work with relevant Hong Kong Government agencies, incubators and co-working spaces to promote Hong Kong as a global start-up hub where innovation and creative ideas are able to flourish. Both the internship program and e-commerce training, having been very popular, will continue to provide real experience and insight to develop the skills of participants keen on the sector.
“We are confident about the growth prospects of the startups in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs are often equipped with a global mindset, high degrees of professionalism and innovative thinking. We believe that the powerful imagination of these entrepreneurs, when realized, will become an invigorating force to boost Hong Kong’s innovation economy,” added Cindy.
Parties interested in learning more about the investment program may refer to the attached infographic or visit www.ent-fund.org for details.