HK's wonder women

Barry C Chung

Bestselling writer explains why the city is so good for business

Barry C Chung |

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Author and entrepreneur Maseena Ziegler says you can get things done in Hong Kong in "twice the speed and half the spend". That is a key point in her new book, Ladies Who Launch in Hong Kong. Ziegler, a South African, fell in love with the city the moment she stepped off the plane and on to the Airport Express. She says it's the best place in the world to start a business.

"Hong Kong has such a strong entrepreneurial energy, and there is an underlying pro-business culture deeply embedded in everyday life and in local government," she says.

The transport system's smooth efficiency impressed her at once. Her respect only grew as she became more familiar with the city.

In her book, which was released last month, she details the experiences of 12 local women who launched highly successful, multimillion-dollar start-ups in Hong Kong.

Ladies Who Launch in Hong Kong is written with two types of readers in mind: aspiring entrepreneurs and readers interested in the inspiring stories of remarkable women.

Ziegler says she wrote the book to fill a void. She was looking for books on start-up businesses in Hong Kong, but could not find anything specifically devoted to the local market. "I felt strongly that Hong Kong needed a book of its own that captured the essence of businesses that started here," she says.

Each of her interview subjects acted on "an idea that gripped them like a fever", she says. While putting their ideas into action, they each had to ride the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.

According to Ziegler, the government's support of free enterprise is a great boon to entrepreneurs. Her book also disproves the myth that you need a lot of money to start a business.

One of the women featured is Lizette Smook, founder of Innovasions, a firm that makes environmentally friendly products. "Where else in the world would you be able to set up a business for HK$450 in the morning and be up and running in the afternoon?" Smook says.

Other entrepreneurs in the book are Victoria and Edith Law, Esther Ma, Ivy Wong Stephens, Rhonda Gretton, Priscilla Chu, Adrienne Ma, Fiona Kotur Marin, Melissa Mowbray-d'Arbela, Sonya Madden and Katrina Walker.

The book has topped the Dymocks Top 10 list for the fifth week. Even though it deals with experiences of women, men are also reading it, says Ziegler, 36, who now lives in New York.

Maybe it's the city or her determination to never remain complacent. Either way, Ziegler's always searching for that million-dollar idea.