Support the young who dream of owning their own business

Recent survey shows Hong Kong’s can-do spirit is alive and kicking, but the reality is that high costs are deterring many from starting their own ventures

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 12:52am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 12:52am

Hong Kong is known for its entrepreneurship. With bright ideas and strategies, there are opportunities aplenty. Indeed, some of the richest people here came from humble backgrounds. Despite a dearth of support for businesses in those days, they survived the economic ups and downs over the years on their own. Their success stories attest to the city’s can-do spirit and resilience.

Whether the same spirit lives among the younger generation today has become an issue of concern recently. If a survey by the Youth and Professional Network is any reference, the desire for youngsters to launch their own business appears to remain strong. About 72 per cent of the respondents aged 18 to 40 expressed such intentions. But they also cited a lack of funding, acute competition and over-the-top rental charges as deterring them from pursuing their dreams.

Courage and conviction: two of the ingredients Hong Kong’s young need to set up a business

The youngsters’ preference for business start-ups may be attributed to the city’s long-standing entrepreneurship. But it also could be explained by the difficulties they face these days. More than 60 per cent of the respondents said they worked long hours, and 55 per cent considered their salaries too low. Those who felt they had underachieved accounted for 53 per cent. The findings suggest they are not happy with their jobs.

It is true that the youth unemployment rate has been fluctuating at around 20 per cent, outstripping the overall figure of around 3.4 per cent. Our ageing society and insufficient retirement protection also mean people may remain in the workforce longer and therefore affect social upward mobility for the younger generation. Dreams of a start-up are understandable.

There already is no shortage of support schemes provided by the government and others. But aspirants should realise that only the best can develop their businesses into viable ventures. What the government can do is to provide the right environment for start-ups. It is up to the capable ones to show their worth and receive the right support.