Hong Kong start-up wins first Deignan Award

March 30, 2023 06:00
Photo: Facebook

A seven-year-old Hong Kong start-up has won the first gold Deignan Award for Responsible Entrepreneurship. GoGoChart Technology has provided digital solutions to more than 2,000 in different sectors in over 60 countries since its foundation in 2017.

The award is named for Father Alfred Deignan, an Irish Jesuit priest who served in Hong Kong from 1953 until his death in 2018. It awards small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) for ethical business practices and encourage them to follow justice, solidarity and social responsibility.

The first award ceremony was held on Saturday at a lecture hall at Chinese University, attended by VIPs including Stephen Chow, S.J., Bishop of Hong Kong, Dr Bernard Chan Pak Li, Under-Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, and Dr Stephan Rothlin, S.J, chairman of the Deignan Award.

“We are very humbled to win the award,” said Daniel Lo, founder and CEO of GogoChart. “We are a local start-up in digital and marketing. We started in 2016 with three people and now have expanded to 50 people, including from Japan and Central Asia. We have had three rounds of fund-raising. We enable SMEs to transform digitally.”

The pandemic was a period of rapid growth for the firm. “Before it, people spent about two and a half hours a day on their mobiles. During the pandemic, it increased to up to four and enabled companies like ours to stand out. Many firms did not know how to operate during the pandemic. The ability to adapt is crucial to all businesses.”

Outlining his business philosophy, Lo said that they invested in young people, with the youngest staff member only 19. “We support them to go through education, including overseas. We allow them to make mistakes and accept their weaknesses. The young are the future. We choose leaders according to their merit, not their age or length of service. We empower our people and our partners.” With headquarters in Hong Kong, it has regional teams in the mainland and the Philippines.

In its citation, the Award Committee said that GoGoChart “had demonstrated a strong commitment to ethical business practices. As a responsible corporate citizen, the company has integrated ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles into its operations, decisions, decision-making processes and core values. Lo’s passion for innovation, excellent and ethical business practices has been instrumental in the company’s success and its reputation as a business leader in Hong Kong.”

Rothlin said the award ceremony was the result of 20 years of work. “Today is the birthday of Father Deignan,” he said. “We are inspired by his passion. We have developed a manifesto for SMEs – respect for human dignity, respect fairness, the environment and business ethics and concern for the disadvantaged.”

“Father Deignan shared with me his disappointment that often enterprises would pay mere lip service to compliance, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. There should be plenty of empirical evidence that a firm commitment to due diligence and sound business practices will more and more became a critical factor for success and would for sure minimize the host of risks linked to practices of corruption and disregard of law and ethics,” he said.

In his speech, Bernard Chan said the business world had changed. “We need the circular economy and sustainable practices. Investors rely on ESG assessments. We need recycling, refurbishment and renewable energy and the product cycle must reduce the environmental impact. We need the full application of green technology, recycling and consumer behaviour.

“Companies that adopt these principles have a better corporate image and reputation and get more investment,” he said.

The Award Committee chose from successful and qualified SMEs from Hong Kong and Macao that had showed a credible track record of specific achievements in the field of sustainability and the implementation of ethical practices, based on the most update research on corporate social responsibility, environmental, social and governance criteria and business ethics.

Bishop Chow said that Father Deignan promoted profit-making with sound ethics. “It was not utopian or unrealistic. We must take care of human society.”

The Gold Award for Macau went to MSS Recruitment. Since 2008, it has been providing HR solutions to global clients operating in Macau and the Asia Pacific region since 2008.

In its citation, the Award Committee said: “MSS Recruitment’s unwavering commitment toward promoting ESG practices is evident in every aspect of its operations. It is dedicated to creating a positive societal impact in Hong Kong through its subsidiary companies, hello-jobs.com and hello-learning.com. These companies provide innovative solutions for job-seekers and businesses alike, promoting more efficient and effective recruitment and training processes.”

An executive of MSS Recruitment said that firms must consider social responsibility. “We have food programmes around the world and will sponsor operations for cataracts,” she said.

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A Hong Kong-based writer, teacher and speaker.