Alibaba Group Backs Young Hong Kong Entrepreneurs

Alibaba Group has established a HK$1 billion ($129 million) not-for-profit foundation to boost and back young Hong Kong entrepreneurs.

The Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, announced today in a press release, will provide support for local youth to enable them to start and grow businesses selling products and services to mainland China through Alibaba Group’s e-commerce ecosystem, which includes giant shopping websites Taobao Marketplace and Tmall. Under the program, participants will have access to financial capital, technical assistance and training.

The foundation is the first initiative launched by Alibaba Group to exclusively support Hong Kong entrepreneurs. “With a mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere,’ Alibaba is passionate about fostering entrepreneurial spirits among young people,” said Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, in a prepared release. “We hope to create life-changing opportunities so that Hong Kong’s young people have an opportunity to build thriving businesses that will serve as a bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China.”

The foundation will provide venture capital by investing in businesses started by Hong Kong youth. Alibaba said a professional investment and operating team will select and finance promising start-ups and work closely with them, providing mentoring and assistance during the start-up phase. Profits generated from these venture investments will be returned to the foundation for re-investment, thus ensuring an evergreen funding source, the company said. The venture investment program is expected to be launched in the second half of this year.

Internship opportunities at Alibaba Group and other businesses within Alibaba’s ecosystem will also be offered by the foundation to 200 selected students from Hong Kong universities each year, allowing them to gain first-hand experience working in mainland China, according to the company.

Alibaba Group has deep connection with Hong Kong. The company founded its Hong Kong office in 1999, taking it as a second home to its Hangzhou, China, headquarters and as the hub of its Asian operations. Many employees and customers have set their roots in Hong Kong since then, including Joe Tsai, Alibaba Group’s executive vice chairman, who has lived in Hong Kong for 20 years. Tsai, a Hong Kong citizen, has been actively involved in Hong Kong’s community affairs and supports youth activities such as the local development of lacrosse.