The southern Chinese megacity of Guangzhou has been at the forefront of nurturing startups from Hong Kong and Macau. Many have gravitated in particular towards Nansha District, that's the geographical center of what's called the Greater Bay Area – a highly integrated economic region involving nine cities on the Chinese mainland, including Guangzhou, and the two special administrative regions.
On the southern tip of Guangzhou, one Hong Kong investor is riding the tidal wave of entrepreneurial activities.
Herro Sun saw an opportunity to help the hundreds of new start-ups developing in Nansha. In less than two years, through his accelerator, he's mentored more than a hundred companies involved in everything from smart mobile furniture to roller skating gear.
"Nansha has been sustaining a growing population in the last few years, that means the market share is growing. In the Greater Bay Area, the transportation cost is very low. And also executive cost is very low because the government is so supportive," said HERRO SUN, CEO of NIU+ Space Nansha (City) International Youth Union.
For 27-year-old Jamie Heung, government support and practical tips from seasoned advisors is truly welcome. Her company makes hearing aids - replacing expensive imported models with affordable options made in Guangdong. She says moving to Nansha has totally changed her mindset.
JAMIE HEUNG Hong Kong Entrepreneur "My family lives in public housing. If I stayed in Hong Kong, the only future I can have is working for others. But in Guangzhou, they provided a free office for me, a teacher to help me write my business plan, how to get investment, or to figure out how to really earn money. So it's really built my confidence to stay here, and dare to dream."
For dreamers that need time to recharge, there are meditation and sleeping rooms in this plush start-up hub. A desk at the GBA Innovation Bay is 140 US dollars a month, and comes with various hotel-style amenities.
HUANG FEI Guangzhou "There are ten incubation bases in Nansha district for young people from Hong Kong and Macao. Offices and co-working space are offered at discounted rates, there's on-site tax and legal advice, and a trendy cafe where you can now pay with digital currency."
Aside from business goals, Sun is also running a community center that helps people build a better life in Nansha. That includes getting access to Hong Kong-style education, and affordable living through a shared ownership scheme.
HERRO SUN CEO, NIU+ Space Nansha (City) International Youth Union "For example, if the apartment is three million (yuan), the government pays half. You only have to pay 1.5 million. Of course you can do mortgage for that. By the time you want to sell your apartment, you can use the starting prize – three million, you give the government (the remaining) 1.5 million and then you can sell the apartment for your own. So basically, you have a very free investment opportunity here."
For fresh graduates that are just looking for a head-start on the Chinese mainland, local companies are offering thousands of entry-level jobs.
Sun encourages young applicants to look beyond pay slips and, instead, recognize the opportunities that could arise from being a part of the Greater Bay Area project.
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