There are a number of government funding schemes that are targeted to support social entrepreneurs. Will the SIE Fund overlap with these existing government funding schemes?
At present, there are six government funding schemes from which social entrepreneurs may seek financial support depending on the nature of their project. When designing the programmes to be offered by the SIE Fund, the Task Force aims to avoid duplication while filling gaps. Projects that are or can be supported under existing funding schemes will not be eligible for support from the SIE Fund. It was to fill a gap in the range of mechanisms available to enable the economy that the Administration decided to direct attention to the development of social innovation and entrepreneurship as instruments to help alleviate and prevent poverty and social exclusion in Hong Kong. The SIE Fund will help build up the ecosystem for nurturing social entrepreneurs and develop and implement innovative projects.
What distinguishes the SIE Fund from those existing funding schemes which also provide support for SEs?
The main characteristic of the SIE Fund is its focus on social innovation as a means for poverty alleviation and prevention. The major differences between the SIE Fund and those existing funding schemes are –
- Applicants to the SIE Fund will not be confined to social service agencies or non-profit making organisations. Individuals or profit-making businesses can apply for funding if they have creative ideas to address poverty or build capabilities in the community;
- In addition to providing seed money for the startup of SEs, the SIE Fund will consider applications from existing SEs for scaling-up of their operations;
- The form of financial support under the SIE Fund will not be confined to grants. Other forms such as matching grant or equity investment may also be considered; and
- Intermediaries may be engaged to administer part of the SIE Fund to further its objectives.
Why doesn't the SIE Fund give subsidies to the ultimate beneficiaries direct?
At present, there are other government funding schemes which give direct subsidies to the ultimate beneficiaries. The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme, the Community Care Fund, etc. are existing schemes which provide immediate relief to those needy people. In the past decade or so, social enterprises played an important role in delivering various social services. The development of social enterprises has mainly been led by NGOs and supported by various government grants such as the Enhancing Self-Reliance Through District Partnership Programme, Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprise Project, etc. While these programmes have been successful, the Government would like to explore the use of a different approach to help those in need and underprivileged groups in the community.
In recent years, there have been notable cases of social innovation in Hong Kong spearheaded by social entrepreneurs, cross-sector innovators and the private sectors. The general view is that there is a good supply of funds to support innovation and entrepreneurship but lacking innovative ideas and entrepreneurs. Taking this into account, the SIE Fund will adopt a different approach to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong through encouraging cross-sector collaboration and strengthening the soft business support skills to groom and coach entrepreneurs to incubate and implement innovative initiatives to tackle social problems.
In what form would the money be disbursed?
Grant, matching grant or other types of funding are some possible options that would be considered.
Is SIE Fund a long-term funding?
The Task Force aims to use the Fund to help establish institutions and networks that will be able to survive in the long term. The need to continue the Fund itself will be reviewed in due course in light of the effectiveness of the ventures that it has helped start.
Who will benefit from the SIE Fund?
The SIE Fund intends to benefit members of the public in Hong Kong who are generally residents of Hong Kong without conditions of stay and in need of assistance in poverty alleviation and prevention of social exclusion such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, single-parent families, new arrivals, low income families, and other segments of the community in Hong Kong with limited access to education and opportunities. The aim is to bring hope, dignity and self-worth to these groups.
What kinds of projects will the SIE Fund support?
With a view to building up an ecosystem for nurturing social entrepreneurs to generate innovative ideas to support poverty relief in Hong Kong, the SIE Fund will accord priority to initiatives that will support projects in three priority areas, namely research, capacity building and innovative programmes.
How would the SIE Fund help those people below the 'poverty line'?
The Fund aims to encourage the community to identify innovative measures to alleviate and prevent poverty and social exclusion in Hong Kong. The SIE Fund will help build up the ecosystem for nurturing social entrepreneurs and develop and implement innovative projects. The ultimate target beneficiaries of the Fund are not limited to people below the poverty line, but a larger group including the elderly, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, single-parent families, new arrivals, low income families, and young people etc. who either live in poverty or on the verge of falling into it.