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Harmony “Anne-Marie” Ilunga set up Harmony HK representing women models of colour, when existing modelling agencies said they preferred white models.

Seven social enterprise founders and others who found ways to help their fellow Hongkongers in 2020

  • Zimbabwe-born Innocent Mutanga, a former refugee who works as a banker for Goldman Sachs, co-founded the Africa Centre, a hub for people from the continent
  • David Nesbitt set up a social enterprise bakery and coffee shops to employ special needs adults; Harrison Li’s diet change eased his eczema so he wrote about it

Hong Kong has had a tough 2020 as it grappled with the coronavirus and anti-government protests. But there have been many women and men from all walks of life who have made a positive impact.

These are some of the ones we wrote about through the year.

African banker invites Asians to change their views of black people

Innocent Mutanga fled Zimbabwe’s secret police for Hong Kong, lived on the streets, won the right as a refugee to study – and now works at global investment bank Goldman Sachs. He co-founded the Africa Centre, a creative hub that regularly hosts cooking classes, art jams, film and book clubs, and workshops covering everything from belly dancing to drumming.
Tong Man-hak taught himself to make erhus -a Chinese musical instrument – after his was stolen on a trip to China. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Inside the workshop of one of Hong Kong’s last erhu makers

Tong Man-hak, 76, taught himself to make erhus after his was stolen on a trip to China. His instruments can sell for almost US$3,000 and one was used by star musician Hsin Hsiao-ling, but Tong worries about the future of the craft in Hong Kong.
David Nesbitt’s daughter sparked his quest to secure gainful employment for the city’s special needs young adults. Photo: Jonathan Wong

The man helping Hong Kong’s special needs adults lead full lives

David Nesbitt explains how his daughter sparked his quest to secure gainful employment for the city’s special needs young adults. The Canadian co-founder of the Nesbitt Centre started the Nest chain of bakery and coffee shop social enterprises.

The model taking on Hong Kong’s prejudiced fashion world

Modelling agencies often told Harmony “Anne-Marie” Ilunga from the Congo they preferred white models, so she set up her own modelling agency – representing women of colour. The fast-growing agency represents a diverse range of models, mainly from countries in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Carmen Yau is a sex rights advocate for people with disabilities. Photo: May Tse

The Hongkonger advocating sex rights for people with disabilities

Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Carmen Yau is a sex rights advocate for people with disabilities through her role as chairwoman of the Association of Women with Disabilities Hong Kong and a committee member of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Hong Kong’s most famous explorer hands over the baton

The first woman from Hong Kong to reach both the North and South poles and scale Mount Everest, Rebecca Lee is finally hanging up her exploring boots. She helped intrepid expedition leader Wilson Cheung get on his first polar expedition and he has now explored many of the world’s most remote regions – but space is his ultimate goal.
Eczema sufferer Harrison Li wrote The Eczema Manual and co-founded WeDerm. Photo: Jonathan Wong

How a mainly plant-based diet eased one man’s eczema

Eczema plagued Harrison Li in his childhood and teenage years. After 10 fruitless years seeking relief, he found it by changing his diet. Having tamed the condition with a largely plant-based diet, he wrote The Eczema Manual and co-founded WeDerm, a Hong Kong social enterprise for eczema sufferers.

Which stories mattered most to you in 2020? Find out with our Year In Review 2020 retrospective.