Preface by Co-Convenors
When Annie Chen from RS Group and her senior advisor Jed Emerson invited us in late 2011 to conduct a mapping exercise of Hong Kong’s social ecosystem, they initially wanted to identify existing gaps between providers of capital (both philanthropic funders and investors) and users of capital (non-profits, social enterprises and intermediaries) in Hong Kong so that resources and capital could be more effectively and efficiently allocated.
After doing our own preliminary assessment of the research, we felt it was important for our research to be useful to as broad a stakeholder group as possible. We then decided to widen the definition of our social ecosystem to include the Hong Kong government, academia and private, corporates and SME stakeholders in addition to more obvious stakeholders like non-profits, social enterprises, foundations and intermediaries.
Our EngageHK journey formally started in February 2012. Since then, we have conducted one-on-one interviews with over 100 leaders from more than 80 different organizations in the public, private and civil society sectors, and convened four workshops with over 50 practitioners, policymakers, educators and entrepreneurs to discuss cross-cutting issues, share our findings, brainstorm recommendations and plan our strategies going forward. To encourage broader stakeholder input, we also initiated an on-line survey with the support of the Nielsen Company to further test and validate our propositions and recommendations.
The stakeholders we spoke with were enthusiastic and showed a high willingness to cooperate. Very often our requested 90-minute interview sessions turned into two and sometimes three hours of engaging conversation. The people we met ranged from stalwarts who have been working in their fields for over 30 years to recent college graduates looking for ways to make a difference. All shared a common passion to contribute to the greater good for Hong Kong.
One might think the sheer diversity and number of players addressing Hong Kong’s sustainability would be sufficient to lead to new and innovative solutions. However, this has not been the case. In fact, there are many instances where efforts are duplicated, resources wasted, results not achieved and impact dissipated rather than multiplied. While some duplication is healthy for promoting competition and creative destruction often leads to further innovation, we noticed there was not sufficient collaboration overall.
We believe it is time for key stakeholders in Hong Kong to step back and examine the landscape, figure out what is and is not working, and in doing so understand how best to broaden collective impact, whether it be social, economic or environmental in nature. Hong Kong’s resources, talent pool and shared motivation uniquely position it to play a leading regional role in finding innovative solutions to pressing sustainability challenges.
For both of us, this report’s significance goes well beyond its findings and recommendations. Its greatest value lies in bringing together stakeholders that do not normally talk to each other regularly. As you read through this report, you will probably recognize some of your own views along with those from other players in your own or other sectors. We hope that the recommendations resonate with you on a personal level, and we look forward to working together with you to move them forward. Please share this report with a friend. Better yet, share it with an acquaintance or even a stranger to help break down the silos that are hindering collaboration.
As we complete the first phase of EngageHK, we realize our journey is just beginning. Our findings and recommendations are intended to spur conversations and inspire multi-party dialogue so that we can work together to build a better and more sustainable Hong Kong.
P. Ming Wong and Philo Alto
Please visit here to download the report.