Edited by KK Tse, who will release a new book on Social Entrepreneurs in China soon.

A New Horizon: 10 Stories of Social Entrepreneurs in China

Edited by KK Tse and Fan Li (HK: 2010, a bilingual book: English and simplified Chinese characters)

Almost every Chinese has heard of this centuries-old saying in their school days. It took me 50 years to really appreciate its meaning.

I considered myself a reasonably well educated person. Born in Hong Kong, I did my first degree in sociology and economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Then I went to the UK for my post graduate studies and obtained my MA and Ph.D. from the University of Manchester. After working for a number of years, I went back to the UK again to do an MBA at the Cranfield School of Management.

I held senior executive positions for ten years in one of the largest and most well managed companies in Hong Kong, the Shui On Group, before founding my own management consulting firm, K K Tse & Associates in 1992. During these years I had the opportunity to take part in a variety of world-class management workshops and conferences in Hong Kong and overseas.

I also travelled widely, having made numerous studying, working or pleasure trips to North America, Western Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, and of course, mainland China and Taiwan.

I thought I have seen quite a bit of the world. Then came a shocking revelation.

Shortly after my early retirement around 2000, I came to notice the existence of social entrepreneurs, not just a few of them, or even hundreds of them, but tens of thousands of them. I was totally fascinated, impressed and inspired by this group of people who are changing the world for the better. Where do they come from? How come I had absolutely no knowledge of them all these years?

It was then I came to realize that I had been looking at the sky from the bottom of a well.

I began sharing my newly found universe with my friends in Hong Kong. They, too, were equally shocked and enlightened. Since then I have begun a second career promoting and supporting social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. I started editing the bi-weekly, electronic Social Entrepreneurs Newsletter since June, 2007, now with over 70 issues. I also help founded the Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum the mission of which is to create and sustain a civic movement of social entrepreneurship.

Green Shoots…..Long March

I strongly believe in Think Big, Start Small.

I also believe in “A Single Spark Can Light Up the Prairie.”

In terms of development of social entrepreneurship, Hong Kong and the Greater China region are at an embryonic phase. Initially, I thought my focus should be exclusively on Hong Kong, a place I know best and could have the highest potential impact. Very soon, I found out that there are quite a few social entrepreneurs in the region doing amazing work. For example, in Mainland China where the number of social enterprises is still much smaller than that in Hong Kong, there are some social entrepreneurs whose work is strikingly innovative and path-breaking. I started to change my strategy; I would like to contribute to the exchange of experience among social entrepreneurs in the region so that they could learn from each other, support each other, and collectively create a greater impact in the region.

One such attempt is transforming the annual Social Enterprise Summit in Hong Kong into a Greater China platform since 2009. Another attempt is precisely the current book.

The social entrepreneurs featured in this book share some common characteristics, such as:

  • They are all passionate changemakers trying to tackle some of the burning issues of our times
  • They are ordinary people, just like you and me
  • They had very meager sources to start their projects but they have achieved some impressive results against all odds
  • They are very innovative in their approach and are breaking new grounds
  • They are harnessing business knowledge and practices to create organizations that can achieve the dual objectives of fulfilling a social mission and becoming self-sustaining at the same time
  • Above all, they are not alone; they have been inspired by other social entrepreneurs and they themselves are likely to inspire a new generation of social entrepreneurs

However, most of these social entrepreneurs are still early in their career and their full potential is yet to be realized. We expect them to greatly enhance their capability and social impact in the years to come.

They represent some green shoots of the emerging social entrepreneurship movement in the Greater China region. Together they are but the first steps of a very long march.

Let them be the single sparks that will eventually light up the prairie!

Table of Contents

  • The Magic of Hua Dan, Caroline Watson 花旦工作室
  • Exploring New Way of Poverty Alleviation, Shen Dongshu 富平學校
  • The First Non-profit Incubator in China, Lu Zhao 公益組織發展中心
  • The Legend of Rabbit King, Ren Xuping 中國兔子王
  • Sightseeing + Volunteering = Social Change, Yu Zhihai 多背一公斤
  • Building up Professionalism for Domestic Helpers, Huang Qijun 妙心家政
  • Conserving Traditional Farming in Rural Guangxi, Zhou Jinzhang 柳州愛農會
  • Equipping Migrant Workers for Career Progression, Zhang Fang 五齊人文職業培訓學校
  • Yaks and Reducing Rural Poverty, Marie So and Carol Chyau 犛牛扶貧
  • Bringing Living Knowledge to Rural China, Philip Hui 活知識社會企業