Exploring a new model of social entrepreneurship

Regina Lau

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In light of the recent economic downturn that has posed great challenges to the social welfare system in Hong Kong, CityU's Division of Social Studies teamed up with the Hong Kong America Centre to present the "Building New Capacity for Social Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong" conference on May 16.

The conference looked at partnerships between government, non-government organizations (NGOs), business firms and the universities in the provision of social welfare in Hong Kong. The conference attracted around 300 participants from these sectors.

"The conference aims to explore a new model of social entrepreneurship to create social capital for our community," said Dr Agnes Yeung, Head of the Division of Social Studies and Co-Chair of the conference. "In addition, ways and means of creative adaptation from international sources will be discussed, and most importantly, dialogue among the leaders of the four sectors (government, NGOs, business firms and universities) will also be established."

In her keynote speech opening the conference, "Invigorating Social Welfare through the Entrepreneurial Spirit", Mrs Carrie Lam, Director of Social Welfare HKSAR spoke on the importance of introducing competition, choice, cost-effectiveness and added-value for the welfare system in Hong Kong.

Another keynote speaker, Professor James Phills, Director of Centre for Social Innovation

at Stanford University, shared his insight on the development of leadership capabilities for the US nonprofit sector. Plenary sessions on the topics of corporate philanthropy in Hong Kong and the roles of universities and NGOs in social development provided forums of discussion for representatives of the various sectors involved.

Some of the more prominent speakers included Mr Darwin Chen, Vice-Chairman of Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Dr Barnett Baron, Executive Vice-President, The Asia Foundation, USA, Mr Joseph Wong, Business Director, Management and Efficiency Enhancement, Hong Kong Council of Social Service and Ms Margaret Wong, Executive Director of Harmony House.

The conference concluded with the launch of an NGO website -- http://www.npo.org.hk -- by Dr Glenn Shive, Director of Hong Kong America Centre, and an open forum where the audience was invited to comment on the day's discussion. Much of the responses were focused on the issue of funding for NGOs. Rounding up the discussion, Dr Yeung said: "I hope that the collaboration among the various sectors we have built up today will continue in the future."



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