Funding | 5 min read

Top Hong Kong Startup and SME Government Funding Options

Are you a Hong Kong based SME or new business looking for low cost funding opportunities? Or a startup exploring what your future capital raising strategy should look like?
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Digital Butter
By Digital Butter
October 29, 2020

Throughout the many Hong Kong government departments you can find opportunities for government support in the form of grants, loans and bonus aimed at helping the 340,000 Hong Kong based SME’s to grow and succeed. The good news is that many of these SME and startup funding opportunities don't require you to dilute your equity or incur an interest rate higher than your return on capital. However, the challenge many owners and founders face is but the awareness and understanding of the 40+ funding programs available from the Hong Kong government. And not to mention the rigid application processes.

Here are the main programs which allocate close to $40 billion HKD ($5.4 billion USD) in support of businesses.

1. Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales

Active since 2012, the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales” or BUD fund has been funding Hong Kong business expansion plans into Mainland China since 2012. More recently, the programme has been expanded to those startups, SME's and new businesses who plan to explore opportunities within ASEAN markets.

The aim of the fund is to provide funding and access to capital to assist Hong Kong businesses in develop brands, upgrade and restructuring operations and promote sales in Mainland China, or the ASEAN markets of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Startups, SME's and new businesses can apply for up to $1,000,000 HKD funding per project. The Hong Kong government will match the startup or SME funding on a 50/50 matching basis for both the Mainland China Programme and the new ASEAN Programme.

You might also be interested in this as well:

Technology Voucher Programme

2. SME export marketing fund (EMF)

The SME export marketing fund aims to encourage Hong Kong based SME’s, startups and new businesses to expand business to new markets beyond Hong Kong.

You can apply for up to $100,000 HKD to cover 50% of the expenses from one marketing based activity. There are no limits on how many times you can apply for the SME export marketing fund grants, however each business has a cap of $400,000 HKD in total funding.

If you are seeking funding for activities that help you market your business outside of Hong Kong through advertising, trade shows or a new website or mobile app, the SME export marketing fund may be a suitable option.

To see a list of approved projects and find out more on eligibility, scope of funding and timings - check out our page here.

3. SME loan guarantee scheme (SGS)

The SME loan guarantee scheme aims to help enterprise and SME's secure funding from financial institutions in Hong Kong.

The funding can differ between banks, however as a guide the Bank of China offer up to $15,000,000 HKD with a repayment period of up to 7 years.

Do take note that this funding opportunity is a more traditional loan under a contract from your chosen bank, and the Hong Kong government will guarantee 50% of the total loan amount.

Unlike the other government funds which help startups, SME’s and new businesses access capital (BUD fund and the SME export marketing fund), the application and approval process is with the lending institution directly.

To find out which banks support the SME loan guarantee scheme as well as more on eligibility, scope of funding and timings - check out our page here.

These programs fall under Hong Kong’s Trade and Industry Department

They are currently spearheading an ongoing government wide project to bring together all 40 programs in one central user friendly location! Until then, you need to dig quite deep in each department website or go into one of the three physical locations and speak to a small business advisor.

Thinking of applying?

Here are some helpful links to give you the information you need:

More detail on Hong Kong's Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales BUD Fund including details on the requirements, how the funding can be used and process timelines.

Support and Consultation Centre for SME’s - Online support and also based out of their Kowloon City location, where you can speak directly with staff who can guide you through the application process.

Additional Information on the SME Export Marketing Fund to check which marketing activities are covered.

SME ONE- a Government produced library of SME resources which also covers funding options and additional information on the BUD funding program.

A list of the banks participating in the SME loan guarantee scheme plus more information on eligibility and requirements.

If you'd like to speak with us directly, or have a brief you'd like to share, then please get in touch, we'd love to hear what you're up to!

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Digital Butter
By Digital Butter
Digital Butter has been at the forefront of Digital Marketing in Hong Kong since 2009, completing over 400 successful projects. We're known in Hong Kong for boutique e-commerce. We specialise in the design & build of high-performing platforms & stores. We produce work that redefines category excellence and accelerates platform profitability. We believe that you don’t get interesting solutions if you don’t ask interesting questions. Our philosophy has been developed over many years - We take needs, create problems, then solve them.
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