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7 in 10 SMEs foresee growth of 4% or more in next 12 months

Scale expansion and launch of new products and services were seen as the main growth drivers.

About 76% of Hong Kong's small and medium enterprises anticipate their business to grow by 4% or more in the next 12 months, according to Dah Sing Bank's 2024 Survey on Business Opportunities for SMEs.

Nearly half of those surveyed also foresee growth rates surpassing 7% or more over the said period reaching 48%. Expansion strategies such as scaling operations (73%) and introducing new products and services (73%) are identified as primary growth drivers.

The survey, conducted by NielsenIQ and spanning April to May 2024, engaged nearly 300 local SMEs to gauge their perspectives on market dynamics and future prospects, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Additionally, 82% of Hong Kong SMEs expect business opportunities within Hong Kong, whilst 46% see opportunities in the Greater Bay Area (excluding Hong Kong).

SMEs in Hong Kong also anticipate e-commerce (60%), finance (56%), and advanced technology (55%) as key growth sectors in the next year.

For the GBA, SMEs highlight advanced technology (68%), consumption (66%), and finance (65%) as the top growth sectors.

Amongst SMEs planning to expand into the Greater Bay Area (GBA), 58% expect business growth to exceed 7% in the next 12 months. Key drivers for this growth include e-commerce development (81%), scaling operations (82%), and launching new products and services (82%). Additionally, 81% of these SMEs are considering seeking support from banks, whilst 66% are concerned about the availability of cross-border payment services.

"Notwithstanding the many macroeconomic challenges that lie ahead, our Survey shows that Hong Kong's SMEs are still highly resilient which is characteristic of the city's indomitable spirit, and they are putting their agility at their best to grow their business,” said Phoebe Wong, deputy chief executive, senior executive director and group head of Personal Banking of Dah Sing Bank.

Looking forward, SMEs foresee managing interest rate and foreign exchange risks (56%), controlling cost of funds (55%), and navigating geopolitical uncertainties (47%) as their top challenges in the next 12 months. To tackle these issues, 68% of SMEs seek information on hedging strategies, 46% hope for practical seminars from banks, and 42% are interested in introductory guidance on ESG fundamentals.

While SMEs recognise the benefits of implementing ESG practices, such as enhancing social contribution and brand image (59%), accessing green finance (54%), and achieving cost savings on resources (53%), only a minority have integrated ESG into their operations.

Specifically, 25% have implemented ESG practices, whilst 31% are aware but have not yet implemented them, and 24% are interested but unsure where to start. 

Amongst SMEs not yet implementing ESG, barriers include lack of guidance (43%), understanding (41%), and concerns about certification costs (36%).


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