Fighting poverty needs 'more than money'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 7:32am

Hong Kong businesses should play a bigger role in the fight against poverty, and that doesn't mean writing bigger cheques, a think tank has said.

"There are many resources in the business sector that can be tapped into," said Lau Ming-wai, vice-chairman of the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre.

"With the emphasis on poverty alleviation in this government administration, the business sector's role in it should be better defined," he added.

But the power to eradicate poverty is ultimately with the government, said Lau, and it relied on the necessary policies being put in place.

"Policies can force things to happen," said Lau, who was part of the Community Care Fund's first steering committee in 2010 and is currently a member of the Commission on Poverty's subgroup on the fund.

Think tank chairman Donald Li Kwok-tung said businesses had to move beyond the traditional donation and financial support model and get involved.

He cited mentorship and internship programmes for underprivileged children, free tutoring services, venues and food sponsorships, and hiring people with special needs as among "more-than-money" ways of contributing to poverty alleviation.

"We think that businesses need to jump out from the traditional donation, monetary participation," he said. The government should give out incentives to companies that contribute to the community.

A report from the think tank says that of 1,000 poverty-alleviation projects by businesses that were studied, around 80 per cent of them were carried out by large corporations, and roughly 80 per cent were in partnership with non-government organisations.

Lau pointed out that the report had its limitations; many small companies may have done community projects that were not so well publicised.

The privately funded public-policy think tank had close ties to former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's government.