[HONG KONG] Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is creating a HK$1 billion fund (US$130 million) to provide startup capital to young Hong Kong entrepreneurs to strengthen economic ties between the former British colony and mainland China.
The Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation will help businesses get started and sell their products nationwide through the company's Taobao Marketplace and Tmall shopping sites, the company said yesterday. Profits generated would be returned to the foundation to sustain the program.
"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," Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said. Last month, Ma told Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang that Alibaba wanted to represent the youth of China and encourage greater innovation.
The fund follows student-led democracy protests that occupied swathes of some of Hong Kong's busiest commercial districts for more than 11 weeks and plunged the Asian financial center into its biggest political crisis since its return to China in 1997. The flow of wealth from across the border, which has strained the city's services and driven the cost of a home out of reach of most, was cited by many protesters as a reason for greater local control.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced several initiatives in his annual policy address last month intended to help young people get jobs and a better education. That followed a HK$500 million donation by the Hong Kong Jockey Club to help 200,000 young people plan their careers over five years.