Executive chairman of Alibaba Jack Ma’s Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund is yet to be started eight months since its announcement, which raises questions about the fund and its real intentions, a lawmaker has said.

In February, Ma announced he will start a HK$1 billion fund to support young Hong Kong entrepreneurs. The fund was expected to invest in Hong Kong start-ups in the second half of this year. It was also said to be offering internship opportunities at Alibaba and related companies to 200 graduates from local universities.

However, information about the fund has not yet appeared in the Company Registry and no internship opportunities were offered this summer, Apple Daily reported.

Jack Ma. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The newspaper asked University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong about the internship plans and they responded saying they had never had communications with Alibaba. They said the fund representative had only just contacted them to schedule a meeting recently.

A spokesperson for Alibaba told the newspaper that the fund’s details on its management, investment principles and application methods will be released shortly. The first batch of Alibaba interns will only be hired next year.

Questionable intentions

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok told the newspaper that it was not difficult to start entrepreneurship funds in Hong Kong and that only registration at the Company Registry and the Securities and Futures Commission was needed.

“They are everywhere. It is not good that [Jack Ma] made a high-profile announcement and spent such a long time to start the fund,” Mok said.

Mok also questioned Ma’s real intention in setting up the fund. He said Ma could be expanding Alibaba’s business in Hong Kong by offering its service to the start-ups supported by the fund which could help promotion.

The fund may only invest in businesses related to Alibaba.

“It may not even fund Hong Kong start-ups, we should’t praise him just yet,” Mok added.

Alibaba also planned to set up a NTD$10 billion (HK$2.39 billion) fund in Taiwan in March but there was not much progress there either. Ma has said the regulation procedures in Taiwan are more complicated than he previously thought.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.