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Commercial and residential buildings on Hong Kong Island are reflected on the ground at East Coast Park Precinct in Causeway Bay on August 5. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

LettersHong Kong’s Strategic Tech Fund should drive growth of impact investing

  • Readers suggest that a new government fund to be launched should align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and highlight the need on International Youth Day to reckon with young people’s evolving communication style
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I read with considerable interest the Post’s exclusive interview with the financial secretary on the launch of a HK$5 billion Strategic Tech Fund. Entrepreneurs and investors will certainly welcome this initiative. But the government should be more “strategic” and prudent in using taxpayers’ money to subsidise commercial ventures.
As outlined in the budget, the fund will invest in businesses that will be important to the competitive development of Hong Kong. As the government is working out the implementation details, it is important to go back to some basic principles on why and how the government should intervene in the operations of the private sector.

Government intervention is only justified when a pure market mechanism does not work. There are businesses that require a much longer research and development cycle and more protracted processes of market validation, and thus pose greater risks to investors with potentially slower and lower rates of returns.

These are ventures that require more patient capital and are usually businesses that have strong social impact, such as edtech (education technology), biotech, health tech, and green tech. Getting funding for these ventures is generally hard, as they appeal neither to mainstream investors nor philanthropic and charitable money.

Therefore, the Strategic Tech Fund should be used to support the growth of ventures that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and are crucial to the sustainable development of Hong Kong society.

Globally, investors are increasingly opting to go beyond ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations to invest in businesses that align with these Sustainable Development Goals. Impact investment has grown steadily in the last decade but it is still at a nascent stage in Hong Kong.

The Strategic Tech Fund can serve as a timely catalyst to drive the development of impact investment in Hong Kong among mainstream investors, family offices as well as foundations. This is also in line with the central government’s “common prosperity” policy.

Leave sectors like financial services, property and retail to the market. Seasoned investors know where their money should go.

Rachel Chan, Quarry Bay

In empowering the young, communication is key

Today we recognise International Youth Day and wholeheartedly support the global theme of fostering inclusive intergenerational collaboration. In Hong Kong, for us, that means listening to young people’s voices, embracing their perspectives with empathy and responding with a non-judgmental approach to ensure mutual trust and ongoing peer support.

Over the years, we have seen communication styles evolve with each generation and today it has changed to one that is no longer face to face and which replaces prose with single characters online – an emoji, or a sticker.

In empowering the youth, communication is a critical skill to impart. Learning how to meaningfully communicate means building stronger relationships but it also means addressing the challenges that this generation’s style brings.

While popular among the younger generation, emojis can carry multiple connotations that are open to interpretation and that can create misunderstandings. In addition, while some topics may be more taboo to discuss for some in the past, today’s youth are becoming more willing to openly share and online platforms have certainly encouraged this.

Mental health issues are an example. The youth today have a more open attitude towards vulnerable sharing of struggles. Their style of communication can create a sense of coherence and inspire connections within the wider community across generations.

KELY values communication deeply, believing that not only is it a necessary and effective way to combat mental health challenges and other long-term problems but a way to foster connections between people with differences. Creative sessions, like our upcoming Coolminds Youth Summit, showcase multimedia art exhibits created by local youth navigating their connection with mental health. Rather than a collection of paintings, poetry or short films, I see these artworks as being another “language” that seeks to fulfil the same goal.

If we don’t speak the same “language”, sometimes we may find it difficult to understand each other. So as we consider how to make our services continually relevant to the youth, one of our organisation’s goals is to encourage young people to develop their own communication skills, providing them with ways to manage tough conversations among themselves and with others.

This also means providing them with platforms to build social-emotional intelligence, with the ultimate hope of seeing future generations reach their full potential.

Sky Siu, executive director, KELY Support Group