The 'e' in entrepreneur
For most university students, a part-time job is usually working as a private tutor or a clerk, but not for Kafar Wong Kam-fan. At the age of 22, Wong owns two online companies and is planning to open his third very soon.
Wong, a final-year student at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), was awarded a Paragon fellowship this year by the Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship for his outstanding achievements.
After finishing Form Five, Wong continued his education at the School of Continuing & Professional Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He earned a higher diploma in network and mobile computing, before moving on to CityU to study electronic commerce.
Wong is a confident young man with great market instincts, and he knows his business well.
In 2007, during his first year at CityU, friends working for NGOs told him that the government was carrying out budget cuts that left NGOs with inadequate resources to run training courses. Wong saw a business potential in this and raised capital with three other friends to set up an online company to help the organisations run training courses.
'Our scope of service includes drafting teaching materials, promotions for the courses and recruitment of trainers,' Wong says. 'We help NGOs reduce their workload and that's what makes our service so successful.'
Wong and his partners were students with very little capital and they turned their venture into a successful business by making good use of the internet.
'We have no fixed costs like office rent. We make use of Facebook and online forums to recruit and contact tutors - a convenient and popular communication method that costs very little,' he says.
Last year, Wong set up a second company focusing on e-marketing, which had been successful in the United States for four or five years but was just starting to take off locally.
'There's a huge potential in e-marketing, so I set up the company to help small and medium enterprises [SMEs],' he says.
'We're a consultancy firm - we offer companies advice on how to increase search results for them on the internet and how to improve their websites.'
Wong explains that his company was able to find a niche market in SMEs because they have fewer resources but are keen on developing e-marketing.
Wong advises young people to be willing to try new things.
'Many people have great business ideas but they will just be ideas if they are not implemented. I've seen many people regret it when they see their ideas put to practice by others successfully,' he says.
He adds that young people should be aware of the risks of starting a business.
'It's good to have an ambitious plan, but never put yourself in the position of not being able to pay off debts,' he warns.
The student entrepreneur says he has not decided whether he will continue his online business after graduation.
'I've learned a lot running my own business, but I know I will gain valuable experience if I work for an established firm. May be I'll stick with my own business if it continues to do well,' he says.