A Reflection on Startup Impact Summit (Hong Kong) 2020

“Giving Your Younger Self Impactful Advice”

Guest Post By Kenneth Kwok, speaker, partner and impactful contributor to Startup Impact Summit #SIS20:

Startup Impact Summit 2020 (#SIS20)​, hosted by WHub, as part of this year’s ​StartmeupHK Festival 2020​, organized by Invest Hong Kong ended on a high note as the event attracted over 5,900 attendees across two days of interactive programming. For the first time, due to travel restrictions and social distancing policies, WHub brought the conference online and hosted some of the most sought-after global speakers in the start-up and tech ecosystem.

In the spirit of making the most tasty lemonade, this allowed us to showcase the know-how, passion and personal journeys of a truly international spectrum, covering six continents and bringing new insights to the wider community across Asia. Under the leadership of Karena Berlin, Karen Contet and Diane de Beaudrap, with the participation of 30 team members and volunteers, SIS20 was a real showcase of the world to Hong Kong and back to the world.

The name of the Summit clearly highlights the importance of combining start-ups with actionable and impactful frameworks to further their commercial goals while advancing sustainability and the greater social good. Here are some of the ways presented by our speakers at SIS20.


Make it the DNA of your Company’s Culture
As an entrepreneur, you have to communicate your social impact clearly with your team early, and often before you can make the case for doing it externally. It has to be ingrained in everything you do. It must naturally connect to your business’ mission and vision, and create a sense of diversity and inclusion.

Antonio Zappulla, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, said, “To achieve collective social good, companies should first start thinking about it early in the process, defining clear diversity and inclusion initiatives, so it can shape the company culture and be supported by all stakeholders.”

Joshua Slusher, Director of Philanthropic Initiatives at UN Foundation, added, “All partners and their concerns must be taken into consideration to create a holistic approach towards social impact.”

Clearly Define and Communicate Your Social Impact
Think through whether the fundamental problem your company solves is actually “social good.” Your team has to believe it in order for them to execute, and in order for them to share the impact they’re having in the community and with your customers.

Question this: “Is it a leap? Or is it real?”. A crystal clear strategy in how to make your impact measurable and scalable is key.

Diane de Beaudrap, COO of WHub and host of #SIS20, commented, “Social good should become an outcome of what you’re trying to build, rather than an afterthought. What is the fundamental belief that drives your business? If you can get clear on the lowest common denominators of your team and embrace why you do what you do, it becomes easier to see how you can achieve social good as an extension of your product and brand. In Hong Kong and for Asia, we have to keep challenging founders to think about how they could use their existing resources — their team, their technology, their solution — to make the world a better place. Social Good doesn’t mean no sustainable business models and that is where we need to help urgently on defining new business models.”

Heba Aguib, Chief Executive of RESPOND of BMW Foundation, agreed, “WO-/MEN who have the strength, courage, and persistence to create positive change while staying genuinely humble, true to themselves, and content: they are our heroes”.

Be Authentic and Heartfelt towards the Impact You Create
Do it for the right reasons is the most common tip shared by the experts at SIS20. “Do it because it is meaningful to you and your team. Do not enter into it as something that’s going to be monetized or to bring you business. If it does, that’s a bonus, but you’ll most likely be disappointed if this is your main reason for launching your start-up,” commented Joe Tian, Managing Director of Detong Capital.

In other words, don’t create a social good strategy solely to generate revenue. According to Nathan Walworth, Co-Chair of the Futurism Group at the Nexus Global Summit, “Rather, focus on connecting the dots internally and externally on how your company can make a positive social impact and leap into the future through regeneration-oriented design.”

Lastly, an important point to make is: A company’s mission does not necessarily have to be focused on changing the world to create social impact. There are other ways to incorporate social good into your model. For example, some employers choose to empower their employees to use paid time off to donate to the charity of their choice.

Wisely summarized by Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit: “Integrating social impact into your business model should be an innovative process. It shouldn’t be an afterthought and it shouldn’t be temporary.”

According to Jay Lin, Founder and CEO of Portico Media, “There is pride in ownership as employees boast about their chosen instrument of impact and create equality. Our stakeholders even get involved.” Indeed, when the initiative becomes engrained in the culture and designed towards everybody benefits, synergies are created.

Final Thoughts on Creating Sustainable Impact
My personal motto for creating impact is: “There is no sustainability without equality”. United Nations and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) is a great blueprint for action, and there is no better time to activate in the “Decade of Action”.

When asked about what advice would I give my younger self to create more impact, a final recommendation is to look for initiatives in your community that already brings companies together and align with your organization’s social impact goals. An example of such an initiative comes from Tom Lytton-Dickie, Founder and CEO of Meaningful Business, whose mission is to “curate a network of progressive leaders across the world, who are combining purpose and profit to help achieve the UN SDGs.” Let us build upon what others have done.

There is no better way to advance impact than with concrete actions. Both Saieshan Govinder and Adetola Onayemi, leading the Global Shapers Community, a World Economic Forum initiative, in Johannesburg and Abuja respectively, demonstrates the power of youth leadership. Both partnered with Jessie Chung, Founder of Family Mask and a United Nations Global Compact member, to donate surgical face masks to at-risk communities in Africa.

Spanning across time zones, this demonstrates that creating a successful social impact program is a team effort, ideally supported by leaders dedicated to giving back.

Joe Wong, Founder of the MXA Group which supported this initiative, summed it up with: “One of the greatest approach to building impact is to empower our next generation to take action.”

We are now in 2020. For the future of our generation, according to Diane de Beaudrap, “There is no Planet B. We all have a responsibility to give back, and our success is linked to our communities and how we co-create together: businesses can’t thrive unless our communities are thriving as well. The earlier you embed the giving/purpose mindset into your organization, the more effective and efficient you can create tangible, measurable, and inspirational social and environmental Impact”.

About the Author

Kenneth Kwok of Global Citizen Capital hosting a fireside chat at #SIS20 with Lluvy Liu of World Economic Forum and his “younger” self

Kenneth is the Founder and CEO of Global Citizen Capital, an impact-oriented healthcare, biotech, logistics, technology and education focused multi-family office investment venture based out of Hong Kong. Kenneth has worked 15 years in the finance industry, serving as the CIO to a large Chinese listed conglomerate as well as a financial professional at UBS AG and Deutsche Bank.

He is passionate about social impact work through his Better Together Foundation (“BTF”), which supports youth entrepreneurship-related initiatives across Asia, and about health and well-being through his Co-President role at Asia World Anti-Aging and Well-Being Association (“AWAWA”). He is a UN SDG Accelerator Labs Mentor as well as UPenn/Wharton alumni interview chair.

Afterword by WHub, organiser of #SIS20
We would like to thank Kenneth for his tremendous support and contribution to #SIS20, helping us to not only showcase #Impact, but also create #Impact.

Going virtual allowed to reach over 3,000,000 people, have 20,000 viewers and granting 5,900 attendees from 97 countries access to over 100 virtual booths and an interactive conferencing platform to make impactful connections. This also allowed to showcase over 270 speakers, presenters, and panelists across fifteen tracks, all designed to share, innovate and inspire the startup and tech community at a global scale and hence provide all in all 191 hours of content and opportunities for meaningful connections. If you would like to (re)watch the talks, please visit #SIS20 Rewatch: whub.io/sis


Day 1 Highlights can be found here and Day 2 here


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