Hong Kong design student launches non-profit to help small businesses during Covid-19

  • Castillo Design makes websites, social media posts and adverts for non-governmental organisations and start-ups
  • The team is full of students hoping to make a difference during the coronavirus pandemic
Rhea Mogul |

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Jonathan Yeung had an idea to help businesses in need during Covid-19 - and he turned his idea into a reality.

Jonathan Yeung wanted to set up a design club at his school, United World College in the US state of New Mexico. He thought it would be a cool way for students to handle all the design requirements the school might have: flyers, event posters, social media posts, and so on.  

The global pandemic disrupted those plans. 

The 17-year-old had to come back to Hong Kong as the world went into lockdown. But he realised he could still put his designs skills to good use. Noticing that lot of start-ups and businesses were having a hard time because of the pandemic, Jonathan set up Castillo Design, a non-profit organisation that offers free design services to companies. It specialises in designing websites, social media posts and adverts. 

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“To me, [setting up Castillo Designs] was the least I could do,” says Jonathan. “I was determined to contribute to society by doing something I enjoyed and excelled at.”

With this in mind, a team of six students, mostly from his school, began contacting NGOs, companies and start-ups to offer their services. 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. “The biggest challenge was finding clients,” Jonathan says. “We are a young team of individuals, some of whom don’t even have real-life work experience. It was hard to gain people’s trust and respect.” 

Jonathan Yeung originally wanted to set up a design club at his school in New Mexico, but the coronavirus pandemic sent him back to Hong Kong.

Jonathan secured their first client – a Hong Kong-based NGO that works with refugees – through one of his contacts. “This project helped us get to where we are today,” says Jonathan, adding that they are constantly recruiting more clients and have clocked more than 200 working hours so far. 

While Castillo Design is not an officially registered business, Jonathan says that his team are exploring ways to become one. He will have to register with both the Hong Kong government, and authorities in New Mexico.

Jonathan says that what sets them apart from others is the fact that they “understand what appeals to young people”.

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“My team is full of young, energetic teenagers, and I am confident we will grow in the coming year,” he says. 

As for advice for fellow teens hoping to start a business, Jonathan says he has three core values: initiative, trust, and “yes”.

For him, initiative means “always being enthusiastic, reaching out, and always being the first one to take up responsibility.”

As for trust, he says: “If you told a client/partner you would deliver the solution/design on time, you’d better do it ... Trust needs to be earned, and being punctual and responsible is the only way to prove to others that you are trustworthy, potentially resulting in future projects. 

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As for “yes”, that’s based on the philosophy that “yes is more”   – if someone offers a suggestion or advice, why not say yes to  it? 

Ultimately, Jonathan hopes his experiences will inspire other teenagers to take action and help others. 

“I enjoy every moment that I do design work for others,” he says, “because I know that someone is benefitting from my services and so has one less thing to worry about.” 

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