Young Mainland graduates set up own businesses in HK

A growing number of Mainland graduate students who study in Hong Kong’s universities are setting up their own businesses in the city. The exposure to such a global marketplace is helping these young entrepreneurs practice what they’ve learned, before heading back to their home provinces.

Spicy Szechuan cuisine in southwestern China right in the heart of Hong Kong’s major tourist hub in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Set up by eight Chinese Mainlanders who met up here in Hong Kong while pursuing further studies, Twelve Flavor has already started making money half a year after it opened its doors.

One of its partners is twenty-four year-old Stephen Qin, originally from Shaanxi Province who earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Hong Kong, one of Asia’s top academic institutions.

Stephen and his business partners represent a growing number of Chinese Mainlanders who come to Hong Kong to study, and are subsequently lured to opening up their own businesses in the city - before they return home.

Hong Kong’s draw for Mainland students is the caliber of education it offers at affordable cost, compared with those offered in America or Europe. The Hong Kong government also provides generous scholarships or fellowships to outstanding students.

Jun Han is professor at the University of Hong Kong.

"The spirit of Hong Kong is entrepreneurship. There are so many legendary stories of successful startup companies in Hong Kong. I believe mainland students, after they spend several years studying here, are influenced by such spirit and would like to give it a try." Said Jun Han, professor of the University of Hong Kong.

"It’s difficult not to get inspired in a city abundant with shining examples of entrepreneurship. Take for instance the owner of this business in Hong Kong - Milan Station, Yiu Kwan Tat. This particular store is the first one he set up in 20-01, selling second-hand luxury handbags. Thirteen years on, he has helped Milan Station become a market leader not only in Hong Kong, but also on the Mainland and Macao."

And then there is Hong Kong businessman Ricky Wong of City Telecom. Known for his innovative, bold and strategic business plans, he is looked up to for his never-give-up spirit. Wong set up City Telecom in 1992, leading to the subsequent collapse of the market monopoly. He is now leading HKTV in its march towards mobile TV and Internet shopping.

"The business environment in HK is transparent and fair. It serves as one of the best entrepreneur platforms in the world. Government provides lots of policy supports to small start-up companies. The tax rate in HK is the lowest worldwide." Said Jun Han, professor of the University of Hong Kong.

Qin and his business partners are already planning for a second Szechuan restaurant not very far from their maiden store in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Their use of social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo have allowed them to get their restaurant’s name out there quick. And it’s the same way Stephen and his business partners have all met in Hong Kong: online.

For Stephen though, his three-year plan includes a return to his hometown in Shaanxi Province, where he hopes to build on what he has started in Hong Kong.