98% of businesses in Hong Kong are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), or startups. To support the SMEs and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong government has put in place a few financing schemes to support the growth of these smaller businesses through financing and loan guarantees.
In this article, we will introduce 5 types of funding options you can look at if you’re a new business owner and entrepreneur in Hong Kong. By the way, Osome helps you register your company in Hong Kong as well as handling your accounting and bookkeeping matters.
SME Financing Guarantee Scheme
What is it?
The SME Financing Guarantee Scheme (SFGS) is a loan that aims to help SMEs suffering from reduced income during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will assist with employee wages and rents to minimise shutting down and employee layoffs. The SFGS is applicable to all SMEs, including those most affected by the pandemic, such as retail outlets, travel companies, restaurants and entertainment places.
The amount you can take a loan for is HK$2 million or the total amount of employee salaries and rents for six months, whichever is lower. Keep in mind that this is a loan. There will be interest rates.
- Have been operating for three months at least since December 2019
- Have seen at least 30% decline in business in any month since February 2020
SME Loan Guarantee Scheme
What is it?
This scheme is aimed at SMEs having cash flow problems due to an economic downturn such as COVID-19. The SME Loan Guarantee Scheme (SGS) provides loan guarantees to SMEs that are unable to get bank loans to buy machinery or meet general working capital needs. The Government will act as a guarantor to the SME instead.
You can apply up to HK$50 billion. Each lending institution has a different loan application procedure. Do check with the individual institutions before you apply.
- Must be an SME under the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
- Have most of your operations in Hong Kong, registered under the Business Registration Ordinance
- Not associated with participating lending institutions (PLI)
- Not a lending business
SME Export Marketing Fund
What is it?
The Export Marketing Fund (EMF) aims to provide financial assistance to SMEs to promote their export activities globally. It covers digital marketing campaigns such as Google advertisements, e-commerce, mobile applications, international trade fairs, local exhibitions and printed publications for international markets.
You can apply to up to HK$800,000 and there is no limit on the number of applications. To apply for the EMF, you can find the relevant forms here.
- Your business must have a physical office in Hong Kong.
- If your SME is in the manufacturing sector, it must employ at most 100 local residents.
- If it does not fall under manufacturing, you need a maximum of 50 locals.
What is it?
The Microfinance Scheme was organised by the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation (HKMC) as a collaboration of Hong Kong banks and non-government organisations. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who does not have the skills and knowledge to start a business yet, this scheme will provide training and supervise your loan application. You can also upgrade skills and obtain professional certification.
You can get up to HK$300,000 and the maximum loan tenor is five years with an extended repayment holiday of 12 months.
You can apply through six participating banks:
- Bank of Communications Hong Kong Branch
- Wing Lung Bank
- Bank of East Asia
- Bank of China (Hong Kong)
- Nanyang Commercial Bank
- Citibank Hong Kong
- You must be a local above 18 years old.
- You must not be bankrupt.
- Your business can be either new or existing.
- Your business has not been around for more than five years.
Technology Voucher Programme (TVP)
What is it?
TVP aims to support the needs of local companies by transforming their business processes through the use of technological services and solutions which could improve productivity, or upgrade or transform the business processes of the applicant’s companies. Each company can get up to HK$600,000 funding and up to 6 projects funded. Applications are open all year round through the Technology Voucher Programme Funding Administrative System. For more information on application you can refer to the official website of the Information and Technology Commission here.
- Incorporated and registered in Hong Kong
- Not a listed company in Hong Kong
- Not a government subvented organisation
- Not a subsidiary of any government subvented organisation
- With significant business activity in Hong Kong related to the project under application
How Do I Choose the Best Grant for my Company?
Choose the grant or scheme that you feel you have the best chance of successfully applying for. Pick the scheme that tightly fits your business needs and one that you are confident of coming up with a grant proposal to convince the authorities that you will put the funding to good use.
Remember, applying for too many grants may not be good for your SME or startup. You may end up not successfully applying for any of the grants if you have too many applications going at the same time.
4 Things to Keep in Mind
- Applying for grants is time-consuming with specific paperwork and proposals needed.
- There will be tough competition for government funding.
- You should still be able to sustain your business even if your grant cannot be renewed or approved.
- Make sure you are aware of the restrictions and conditions of the grant.
Besides getting grants, once you form your company, you’ll need to make sure that you are compliant with the rules set out by the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622 of the Laws of Hong Kong). You can keep track of the timeline on your own or you can get help from our experienced company secretaries in Hong Kong.