Speech by Acting CS at opening ceremony of Social Enterprise World Forum 2016 (English only) (with photos/video)
Dr Alice Yuk (Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises), Mr David Le Page (Chairman of the SEWF C.I.C. Board of Directors), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and honourable speakers,
It gives me great pleasure to address the opening ceremony of this high-powered 9th Social Enterprise World Forum. Let me first extend a very warm welcome to all overseas speakers and delegates.
The Social Enterprise World Forum, launched back in 2008 by a group of national agencies in different countries in support of social enterprises, aims at advancing social enterprise development around the world. Hong Kong is honoured to host this mega event, with social enterprise leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals and elites from all over the world gathered in this vibrant international city to share their views and experiences. My warmest congratulations go to the Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises on staging this prestigious forum in Hong Kong for the first time. My gratitude also goes to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and also all the generous sponsors. Without their donation, this event could not have been a success.
This event forms part of the Hong Kong International Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Week 2016, which began on Thursday (September 22). I had the opportunity of speaking at the opening and having a dialogue with Professor Michael Porter from the Harvard University on his very famous concept of creating shared values. It comprises three major forums, each with unique perspectives on how to make the world a better place. Never before have we seen so many world renowned and influential thought leaders, senior officials, experts, academics, practitioners and philanthropists assembled in Hong Kong to foster learning, sharing, collaboration and innovation. This has indeed been an enterprising week of intellectual feasting and cross-fertilisation.
The rapid rise in the number of social enterprises worldwide, including in Hong Kong, has led to a new business sector which increasingly makes an impact in its pursuit of social objectives. From job creation and the production of green products to the provision of affordable accommodation, support for learning and many other achievements, social enterprises have been providing sustainable solutions for social issues and providing the impetus for social innovation. The social enterprise sector also contributes towards instilling a sense of mutual care and support in the community for a more inclusive, fair and equal society for people of different origins and social groups.
I must say that it is an opportune moment for this world forum to be held in Hong Kong as we are undergoing, if I may say so, a quiet social revolution in moving towards a more caring, more compassionate and more cohesive community here. The government is taking the lead. Poverty alleviation, better elderly care, and enhanced support for the needy and disadvantaged rank very high on the Government's policy agenda. For example, welfare spending has risen by a significant 55 per cent from HK$42.8 billion in 2012-13 to the current financial year figure of HK$66.2 billion. It is now the second largest item of our recurrent expenditure just after education. A host of new measures aimed at improving care and social security protection for our senior citizens as well as to tackle working poverty here have also been put in place. In gearing ourselves up for a fast-aging community, (currently one out of seven Hong Kong people is aged 65 or above. In twenty years' time, it will become one in three) and in narrowing the wealth gap, we will not be shying away from new ideas and fresh thinking in mapping out our strategy and our way forward. In the process, we will mobilise the whole community and reinforce cross-sectoral collaboration among the Government and many stakeholders in society. We stand ready to embrace the challenges head on.
With a population of 7.3 million, Hong Kong currently has 570 social enterprises - more than double the figure of 260 in 2008. Apart from the notable increase in numbers, our social enterprises have also become more diversified in terms of business nature, financing arrangements, mode of operation and social objectives. While most of our social enterprises in the past were established by charitable bodies, an increasing number of business executives and professionals are venturing into the social enterprise sector. About 20 per cent of our social enterprises now are run by non-charitable organisations formed by the business sector and professionals as well.
Hong Kong's social enterprise sector is essentially community driven with the Government playing a key supporting role. Under a multi-pronged approach, we facilitate the development of the sector through a range of measures including funding support, which is very important, capacity building, enhancement of public awareness and support, and promotion of cross-sectoral collaboration.
The staging of this important world forum in Hong Kong is a recognition of the achievements of our social enterprises and marks an important milestone in its development. Under the theme New Frontiers, New Markets, the forum will review the business models and practices in the sector with reference to relevant success stories, and will explore the use of social enterprises as a new market and a new form of business for the achievement of social objectives with deliverable social values.
I am sure that the exchanges, sharing and discussion in the forum will give new insights, inspiration and good food for thought for the long-term development of the social enterprise sector in particular and social advancement in general. I wish this forum every success.
Thank you very much indeed.
Ends/Sunday, September 25, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:45
Issued at HKT 19:45