2024 Survey on Business Opportunities for SMEs

2024 Survey on Business Opportunities for SMEs

The recent release of Dah Sing Bank's "2024 Survey on Business Opportunities for SMEs" offers a treasure trove of insights into the aspirations and strategic orientations of Hong Kong's small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The survey, conducted by NielsenIQ, reflects the perspectives of 291 local SMEs, painting a picture of a sector poised for growth despite global economic uncertainties.

Economic Optimism Among SMEs

A striking feature of the survey is the pronounced optimism among Hong Kong’s SMEs regarding their growth prospects. According to the survey, a robust 76% of respondents expect their business to grow by at least 4% in the next 12 months, with nearly half forecasting growth exceeding 7%. These numbers not only underscore the resilience of Hong Kong’s SMEs but also highlight their agility in navigating the complex economic landscape.

This optimism is not confined to domestic markets. The survey indicates a significant interest in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), with close to 60% of the respondents looking to expand their operations into this dynamic region. The GBA offers a larger market and potentially lower operating costs, making it an attractive proposition for businesses looking to scale.

Strategic Focus on Innovation and Expansion

The survey reveals that expansion and innovation are the primary drivers for anticipated growth. An equal percentage (73%) of SMEs are focusing on scaling their operations and launching new products and services. This dual focus suggests a strategic approach where SMEs are not just looking to grow in size but are also keen on diversifying their offerings to capture new market segments.

The sectors expected to drive growth further highlight the innovative edge of Hong Kong’s SMEs. E-commerce, finance, and advanced technology are seen as key growth areas within Hong Kong, with even higher expectations for technology and finance sectors in the GBA. This emphasis on high-tech and digital solutions indicates a shift towards sectors that are not only resilient but are also at the forefront of the global digital transformation.

The Role of Dah Sing Bank in SME Development

Dah Sing Bank’s commitment to supporting local SMEs is evident from its initiatives aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices among these businesses. The bank’s "SME ESG Charter 2024" is a commendable effort to help SMEs adopt sustainable practices, which could lead to better operational efficiencies and open new avenues for green and sustainable finance.

Moreover, the bank’s acknowledgment of the challenges SMEs face in areas like interest rate and foreign exchange risk management highlights its proactive stance in addressing the critical needs of its clients. By offering seminars and workshops on these topics, Dah Sing Bank is not just a financial service provider but a strategic partner to the local SME sector.

Challenges Ahead

Despite the optimism, the survey also sheds light on the apprehensions of SME owners. Concerns about managing the cost of funds, interest rates, and foreign exchange risks are prominent. Moreover, nearly half of the surveyed SMEs expressed concerns about geopolitical tensions, reflecting the broader uncertainties impacting global trade and investment flows.

Additionally, while there is a high level of recognition of the benefits of ESG practices, actual implementation remains low. Only 25% of surveyed SMEs have integrated ESG into their operations, highlighting a significant gap between awareness and action. The challenge of ESG integration is further compounded by concerns over the costs and complexities of obtaining ESG certification.

Conclusion

Dah Sing Bank’s 2024 survey offers valuable insights into the pulse of Hong Kong’s SME sector. It reflects a community that is optimistic, growth-oriented, and keen on leveraging technological and regional opportunities. However, the findings also highlight the need for continued support and guidance in areas like risk management, ESG integration, and regional expansion.

As Hong Kong’s SMEs continue to navigate the evolving business landscape, partnerships with financial institutions like Dah Sing Bank will be crucial. These partnerships can provide the necessary resources and expertise to help SMEs realize their growth potential while managing the inherent risks of an interconnected global economy. This collaboration between banking institutions and SMEs will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the economic future of Hong Kong.

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