Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has announced the inaugural investments of its Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, committing money and resources to three startups in the online apparel, e-commerce services and logistics spaces.
Online fashion rental and sharing site Yeechoo, on-demand logistics company GoGoVan and Shopline, an e-commerce platform for merchants, will all receive minority investments and assistance from Alibaba to help scale their businesses. They were chosen from over 200 other young companies who submitted applications to the fund.
“These companies embrace technology to create value for the society, and we are excited to work with them and help them grow their businesses with resources available from the fund and Alibaba Group,” said Joseph Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, in a statement.
Alibaba announced the creation of its Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation in February of last year, with the fund launching in November. The initiative was set up to support Hong Kong entrepreneurs, providing them with venture capital and mentoring during the startup phase. All of the profits from these investments are put back into foundation for additional investments.
“With a mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere,’ Alibaba is passionate about fostering entrepreneurial spirits among young people,” said Executive Chairman Jack Ma said at the time. “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.”
A similar initiative was announced for Taiwan just a month after the Hong Kong foundation was established.
Yeechoo, which means “closet” in Mandarin, is similar to renttherunway.com in the U.S. in that it allows women to rent designer dresses and accessories at below-retail prices. Shopline creates online stores for merchants in Asia. The company focuses on mobile, and merchants can build and maintain their stores from any mobile device. App-based GoGoVan, meanwhile, has over 20,000 commercial vehicles working in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, China and Taiwan. Yeechoo and Shopline launched two years ago, while GoGoVan first started operations in Hong Kong in 2013.
“Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce company with expertise in payment, logistics and cloud services that are all core to e-commerce,” Shopline CEO and cofounder Tony Wong said in the statement. “This will help us strengthen our market positioning in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and fuel the next stage of our growth.”
Alibaba said it has been working closely with local incubators and universities in Hong Kong to identify the needs of entrepreneurs in Hong Kong in a bid to support their growth and expansion. Applications to the fund are accepted on the rolling basis, and the company is planning more investments.