The policies, like market development/business improvement provisions, research and development support, adoption of retail technology, encouragement for research and growth in the private sector, and locally-built enterprises, define the success of Hong Kong SMEs.
Government funding schemes
- Financing and Guarantee Scheme
|1. Small and medium-sized enterprises Loan Guarantee Scheme||Business Installations and Equipment Loans||Under the SME Loan Guarantee (SGS) scheme, loan guarantee is given to SMEs for the purchase of company premises, assets, or working capital requirements of general enterprise applications from participating credit agencies.||The company must be licensed in Hong Kong under the Company Registration Regulations (Chapter 310) and substantives|
|Guarantee Ceiling and Period|
|SME should be under the definition of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.|
|Working Capital Loans|
|The company should not be the lender’s associate and must not be carrying on the business of a lender.|
|2. Microfinance Scheme||Special Concessionary Measures||The scheme seeks to help local and non-listed SMEs secure funding from participating lenders to fulfil their business requirements.||The individual who has business activities in Hong Kong must be a corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, or unincorporated body and remain registered under the Ordinance on Company Registration (Hong Kong Chapter 310).|
|90% Guarantee Coverage|
|Special 100% Loan Guarantee|
|In compliance with the scheme, HKMCI can protect the credit facilities of the qualified enterprises authorized by the lenders, with guarantees of 50%, 60%, or 70%.|
|The firm must not be carrying out a lender’s business or otherwise have funds that are in any manner available for borrowing.|
|The firm should not be the lender’s affiliate.|
|It must not be an enterprise or corporation having all of its shares listed on the Hong Kong Limited Stock Exchange or related exchanges in or without Hong Kong.|
Use of loans:
- For business installations and equipment: The loans can be used for getting installations or equipment related to business operation, e.g., machinery, communication systems, office equipment, tools, computer software and hardware, transport facilities, furniture, fixtures.
- Guarantee ceiling and period: The maximum guarantee period is five years. The guarantee amount for any business is 50% of the loan amount. The total guarantee amount given is $6 million.
- Working capital loans: These can be used for fulfilling the working capital needs of general business uses.
References: For more details regarding Financing and Guarantee Scheme, please visit the website https://www.smefund.tid.gov.hk/english/sgs/sgs_objective.html
- Market Development Scheme
|1. Export Marketing Fund (EMF)||Using EMF, the SMEs can expand their markets outside Hong Kong and participate in export promotion activities.||The company must be registered in Hong Kong under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310)|
|It must follow the government’s concept of an SME, i.e., it must employ fewer than 100 people in Hong Kong, and it must employ fewer than 50 people in Hong Kong if it is interested in a non-producing enterprise.|
|At the time of filing the application, the company must perform significant business activities in Hong Kong. A corporation with a shell business registration will not come under this category.|
|The total amount of funds earned by the company previously under the EMF should not surpass the cumulative ceiling for the cumulative financing. The export development operation and related resources covered by an application shall not be an organizer, co-organizer, or related entity of the organizer/co-organizer/services provider.|
|2. Branding, Upgrading, and Domestic (BUD) Sales||Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Regional Government has created a fund for BUD sales to help Hong Kong businesses explore the opportunities emerging from the 12th National Five-Year Plan.||Both non-listed firms should be registered under the Company Registry Regulations in Hong Kong (Chapter 310)|
|Funding on a matching basis will be given|
|Projects that help individual Hong Kong businesses explore and develop Mainland and FTA economies through brand development, upgrade, restructuring, and sales promotion|
|Each financed project should be complete within 24 months|
SMEs receive funding support from EMF for their participation in the following activities:
- Trade exhibitions outside Hong Kong.
- Trade missions outside Hong Kong.
- The support is provided for local trade fairs targeting international markets. (Link for more details https://www.smefund.tid.gov.hk/english/emf/emf_local_trade_fair.html).
- For export promotion via electronic platforms or media, targeting international markets.
- For establishing a corporate website/mobile app of the enterprise that targets international markets.
- Supporting Research & Development
|1. Innovation and Technology Support Program (ITSP)||ITSP is set to fund R&D projects implemented by R&D Centres or designated local public research institutes to move the findings of R&D to local industries, that were initiated in November 1999||An R&D Core or Local Institute of Public Science shall be the lead claimant|
|2.Partnership Research Program (PRP)||The objective of PRP launched by R&D Centres or designated Local Public Research Institutes in January 2019 is the support for applied research and innovation (R&D) projects in cooperation with private firms.||An R&D Core shall be the lead claimant|
|Designated local public science institute to be paired with a co-candidate of the sector to apply for PRP|
|The co-applicant for the industry can either be a Hong Kong-based private company (Chapter 622) or an industry support organization, a trade and industry association, or professional body that has the legal capacity to enter into contracts.|
Features of the program
- Innovation and Technology Support Program (ITSP) focuses on supporting platform and seed projects. Platform projects are applied R&D projects with potential for commercialisation.
- Seed projects are exploratory in nature and provide the foundation for future applied R&D projects.
References: For details regarding the scheme, please visit the link https://www.itf.gov.hk/l-eng/ITSP.asp
- Creative Industry
|1. Design Incubation Program||Hong Kong Incubating Program (DIP) aims to promote design start-ups in the early stages of their corporate development through hardware and software support. DIP is a major incubator program, strongly supported and endorsed by the Hong Kong SAR Government and operated by the Hong Kong Design Centre.||The applicant must be a designer|
|The company should be a registered start-up in Hong Kong or must have a plan to form a firm|
|The incubate should at least have another partner/full-time staff with whom to work in the start-up|
|Have sufficient funds, or plans to sustain start-up business for the next two years and beyond|
|Should have passion and ambition to develop a new project/product in design sectors|
|2. Fashion Incubation Program||Fostering the regional fashion creative ecosystem and improving the role of Hong Kong fashion design growth in both pan Asian and global contexts.||Started fashion company or labels more than three years ago and introduced into Hong Kong or abroad; preferably internationally with two collections that have an appealing marketplace|
|Be serious about becoming a fashion businessperson|
|Aware of consistency and a high degree of technical skill|
|Personally, worthy of learning and striving for perfection|
Benefits of the program
The successful applicants will receive business development support, a series of training programs with industrial organisations, academic institutes, professional bodies, and potential business partners. The applicants will also get opportunities to meet and network with the industry leaders.
- FinTech Anti-epidemic Scheme
|1. FinTech Scheme||The scheme aims at drawing world-leading, creative FinTech firms, start-ups, founders, and other stakeholders to grow and expand their business in China, Asia, and beyond, through Hong Kong.||The company must be a Hong Kong-registered or a not-for-profit organisation|
|The company must have started the business before January 1 and still be operational while filling the application.|
|In Hong Kong, most limited corporations are private limited companies. At least one director and one company secretary are required for a private limited company in town. The director may be a non-Hong Kong citizen.|
References: Link for more details https://www.hongkong-fintech.hk/
- COVID-19 Special Schemes
The government, on February 14, 2020, declared establishment of an anti-outbreak fund to provide support to businesses and members of the public seriously hit by the present epidemic, or impacted by anti-epidemic initiatives, to improve the capacity of the government and other related parties to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, on April 8, 2020, for the assistance to businesses and people impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the government declared a second round of Anti-Epidemic Fund initiatives worth HK$137.5 billion. On September 15, 2020, the government announced setting up a third Anti-Epidemic Fund round. The 24-billion-dollar program was launched to benefit the affected businesses and people and boost Hong Kong’s capacity to combat the epidemic.
1. Anti-Epidemic Fund
|Distance Business Program||The Commission for Innovation and Technology (ITC), a Distance Business Initiative (D-Biz), was able to help the businesses continue running and delivering services throughout the epidemic due to Anti-Epidemic Fund.||All private companies with a valid registration certificate for their businesses or having a social enterprise certificate issued under the D-Biz DSC by the Hong Kong Council, whose existing activities began before January 1, 2020, and performing significant project-related business operations in the industry, are qualified for the application.|
|Employment Support Scheme||Time-limited financial support is being provided to the employers under the Employment Support Scheme (ESS), so they could retain their employees.||The employers would not implement redundancies during the time of subsidy.|
|The wages must be used to pay the workers’ salaries and existing HKSTP tenants|
|Rental waivers||The government aims at supporting tenants and start-ups by giving a six-month rental waiver to SMEs at the Hong Kong Science Park, Business Parks and Cyberport. After October 2019, under the Anti-Epidemic Fund, the government has given rental waivers to alleviate research and technology businesses, start-ups, and partners at Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport.||Existing HKSTP tenants|
|A special one-off grant of HK$37,500 will go to all HKSTP incubates who are participating in the Incu-App, Incu-Tech, and Incu-Bio programs during the third relief round.|
|Since the current financing policy has applied rental discounts, incubates will be entitled to 75 per cent rental relief on any rental payments already payable.|
The secretariats of the related financial structures are handling inquiries by firms regarding applications, including the request for form completion either by telephone or by e-mail and offering feedback on how the applications could best satisfy the need for vetting. The secretariats are determined to encourage the trade finance programs, including giving instructions for filling active applications, through workshops and seminars.
Hong Kong is not only one of the most thrilling cities in the world, but also one of the liveliest technological centres in Asia. With schemes like StartmeupHK, the government supports and provides guidance on how to make the city your start-up home. The StartmeupHK is a business unit and was founded in 2013. It aims at supporting Hong Kong to become a leading business and innovation start-up destination. Similarly, under the scheme InvestHK, the HK government funds international businesses established in the region.
For more input, read the article written by Hartley, K., & Jarvis, D. S. (2020) on “Policymaking in a low-trust state: Legitimacy, state capacity, and responses to COVID-19” in Hong Kong. Policy and Society, 39(3), 403-423.
Please refer our previous article in the last edition about marketing and promotions in a traditional way.