Remember the Jordan shop space that was offered in January to young entrepreneurs for a monthly rent of HK$1?
As expected, it drew an enthusiastic response.
Applications closed last week to a record 162, according to the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups which organized the rare opportunity under its Youth Business International program.
This year’s haul eclipsed the previous record of 112 applications in 2009-2010 when the global economy was only beginning to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.
Among the 162 applicants, 114 will compete for the HK$1-a-month shop in Shanghai Street.
They were chosen on the strength of their business proposals.
The big-hearted woman who owns it asks only that the tenant restrict the business to food and beverage during the two-year lease.
The rest of the applicants are hoping the organizers will come up with a plan to offer interest-free loans.
Gary Tang, supervisor of the federation, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that based on the proposals, 28 percent of the applicants want to operate a coffee shop.
Others plan a restaurant serving Chinese, Asian and western food or dessert.
“This time, the applicants really did their homework,” Tang said.
“Some of them even came up with solutions on how to increase foot traffic after finding that business in Shanghai Street is quiet at night.”
They will undergo the first round of interviews at the end of this month and organizers expect to release the results in early May.
Rent is the biggest obstacle to young people starting a business. Tang is hopeful more generous landlords will come forward to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
However, he is guardedly optimistic.
“Some owners would rather let their shops stand empty than settle for lower rent,” he said.
“If the present trend of spiraling rents continues amid an influx of Chinese visitors, no landlord will consider lowering rent.”
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