Nine months after unveiling the plans, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Thursday officially launched its HK$1 billion fund to support young entrepreneurs and startup businesses in Hong Kong.
At the launch event, Alibaba vice-chairman Joseph Tsai Chung-Hsin said the fund, an initiative of the group’s founder Jack Ma, will only pick the best ideas and best entrepreneurs for investment.
The Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund is a not-for-profit initiative of the Alibaba group, but it is “not a charity”, Tsai said.
To qualify for funding support, the majority of the founders of a firm should be Hong Kong permanent residents. Also, participants must utilize at least one of Alibaba’s platforms to run their businesses. The partnerships, for instance, could be related to online stores or cloud computing.
The objective is to “to support the aspirations of entrepreneurs who wish to take advantage of the resources offered by Alibaba’s ecosystem in e-commerce, logistics, mobile platforms, cloud computing, and financial services,” Alibaba said in a statement.
Besides supporting startups, investment managers appointed by Alibaba will pick other potential local firms to invest, but the investment ratio will be lower than 50 percent.
The fund will also select 200 university students from Hong Kong every year to work as interns at Alibaba Group’s businesses in mainland China. The program will begin accepting applications from people who will complete their undergraduate degrees in 2016.
Bernard Charnwut Cha, one of the fund’s directors, noted that cross-border business is a must for firms to survive in the present era. He said he hopes that other companies would also consider setting up some similar funds to support local entrepreneurs.
Lee King-wah, founder of startup training organization TIPS, told Ming Pao Daily that Alibaba’s fund has tighter rules compared to similar funds set up by tech behemoths Google and Microsoft.
Some startups will have problems with the rule that requires funded entities to use one of Alibaba’s platforms, Lee said.
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