Diamond Cab Picks Up Hong Kong’s Fledgling Social Entrepreneurship Scene
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new phenomenon in Hong Kong–and one venture philanthropy startup, Social Ventures Hong Kong (SVhk), has been at the forefront of the movement, with several investees under its portfolio focused on the elderly and disabled. The group’s newest project, Diamond Cab, officially launches next week.
“Diamond Cab is the first branded, high-quality taxi service in Hong Kong specially tailored for wheelchair users–and the only taxis which are wheelchair accessible,” SVhk founder Francis Ngai tells Fast Company. “It is a disruptive model to the existing taxi market, as we creatively reorganized the network of partners, bringing in elderly homes, disabled NGOs, and taxi operators altogether.”
Ngai left a high-powered job working in telecommunications in mainland China to start SVhk with a few other entrepreneurs and has now found himself in the company of the Skoll World Forum and other international social enterprise outlets. “But the development of social entrepreneurship here is still in the infant stage and it’s mostly developed by government and non-profits,” says Ngai.
“We nurtured the Diamond Cab idea for three years and we found that disabled transportation is one of the main difficulties in Hong Kong. The market gap is very big. So we got in touch with government officials. We set up a small working group to come up with business plans. We met weekly, bridged with funders, and then we formed the preliminary idea and opened up to shareholders. Now other shareholders include elderly homes.”