JP Morgan pitches in to help entrepreneurs launch social ventures in Hong Kong

JP Morgan teams up with philanthropic group to help budding entrepreneurs realise their dreams

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 3:48am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 3:48am

A philanthropic group is teaming up with a global investment bank to train and support young entrepreneurs who want to develop social enterprises.

Social Ventures Hong Kong founder Francis Ngai said by growing the city's social ventures sector he hoped to create a third way of doing business, between a regular company and a charity.

"It's more like a business - they can get themselves self-sustainable and it's a for-profit entity, [but] it's a socially-driven business," he said.

Former drum teacher Helen Lo aims to revolutionise the education system with her social enterprise, OhMyKids, which emphasises life skills over exam results. But when she set out she was unsure how to grow her brand. "I don't come from a business background, I'm an educator," Lo said. "I really had no idea when I started three years ago and I had to learn on my own."

OhMyKids is one of 13 companies joining the partnership between Social Ventures Hong Kong and JP Morgan.

"I'm hoping we can scale up because we still have a lot of projects which we aspire to do and by joining this programme I hope we can really achieve those projects and those aspirations that we have," Lo said.

Over the course of the 12-month programme the businesses will be given training through workshops and coaching with a pool of more than 600 experts across the business, academic and entrepreneurship sectors.

A spokesperson for JP Morgan said they would also be given opportunities to pitch to potential investors, philanthropists and foundations.

Other ventures taking part in the programme include Pawsible, a company aiming to make the city pet-friendly, and Rooftop Republic, which wants to use gardens on top of high-rises to improve food quality and security.

JP Morgan managing director Andrew Butcher said it was a focus of his company to look for ways to support ongoing, sustainable economic growth in the communities they worked in.

"[This] very much fits the character of Hong Kong as a city - and this is part of what I like about it - empowering and enabling people to help themselves as opposed to just being dependent on institutions," he said. "I think that very much defines the character of Hong Kong."

Since 2007, Social Ventures Hong Kong has assisted dozens of social enterprises in getting on their feet and becoming self-sustainable, including Diamond Cabs, a taxi company for people with disabilities.

"Not a single penny came from the government, we're all from mobilising private funding, sometimes donations but sometimes investment money," Ngai said.