Hong Kong Club should help innovator group

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 3:55am

As I read Jake van der Kamp's column ("Time for the HK Club to end its embarrassment of riches", May 12) on my flight back to Hong Kong, my thoughts returned to the two-day workshop I had just attended at HUB Singapore.

The HUB (www.the-hub.net) is an association of co-working spaces that currently number 38 globally, including three in Asia - Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo - with another 17 cities approved to open.

The Asian cities currently exploring the feasibility of a HUB include Kyoto, Bangkok, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai.

Hong Kong's notable absence is mainly due to the difficulty of identifying a location that is both affordable and centrally located.

The HUB is more than a co-working space. It is a platform that allows entrepreneurs to engage with corporations, investors, government and civil society as they build enterprises with clear social and environmental missions.

It is simply unconscionable for the Hong Kong Club to use the reported HK$154 million in annual rental income wholly for the benefit of its members, most of whom can afford to pay higher monthly fees to upkeep the club.

For the sake of Hong Kong, I sincerely hope the membership would consider making one floor in its building available to start a HUB.

Legally the space might belong to the club but morally every member knows that the space rightfully belongs to the public with the club merely acting as its steward.

Hosting a HUB at the Hong Kong Club would send a clear signal to the world's populace that our business community cares not just about profits but also the social and environmental well-being of Hong Kong.

Such a move would also be consistent with the government's current efforts to promote social innovation and entrepreneurship through the HK$500 million Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund.

Van der Kamp is spot on. The Hong Kong Club is in a position to "stamp its name" and "engage its members ... in a way that will bring it huge credit".

Its location at the heart of Central is a perfect meeting and co-working space.

More importantly, the club's membership is filled with political, community and business leaders that would serve as ideal mentors for aspiring entrepreneurs.

In one bold move, the club would cement its reputation and help Hong Kong realise its vision to be a world city and centre for social innovation.

Ming Wong, co-founder, Asia Community Ventures