Boosting SMEs' ESG and Funding in Hong Kong

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Hong Kong's SMEs and ESG game
Image courtesy of Freepik

The need to adopt environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting processes is driving Hong Kong's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through an evolving landscape.

As key drivers of Hong Kong's economy, SMEs play a pivotal role in the city's journey towards sustainable development. However, the post-COVID era has raised concerns among SMEs about the additional costs and complexities associated with embracing the ESG agenda.

While the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has taken steps to address these concerns through a support programme, other economies have adopted more proactive approaches. One such approach gaining traction is the adoption of Legal Entity Identifiers (LEIs) to facilitate cross-border regulatory cooperation, especially in e-commerce and sustainable finance for SMEs.

In the digital finance era, LEIs have emerged as a critical component of Hong Kong's financial infrastructure. These 20-character alphanumeric codes, unique to each market participant, have bolstered the city's regulatory regime and enhanced financial stability. Since 2019, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has made it mandatory to use LEIs in over-the-counter derivatives transactions reporting.

The adoption of LEIs offers a significant opportunity for Hong Kong SMEs to embrace ESG principles and open new doors in the post-pandemic landscape. Globally, there are already 2.25 million active LEIs, with 63,000 issued in the first quarter of this year alone.

For small companies in Hong Kong, LEIs present an opportunity to establish a unified and standardised ESG compliance system. By helping SMEs collect and analyse valid and reliable data to assess ESG risks, LEIs streamline the risk assessment process.

Widespread use of LEIs in ESG reporting and data collection would enable small businesses to embrace ESG practices with greater ease and lower costs. Moreover, having ESG credentials linked to a global standard like the LEI can enhance a business's competitiveness and access to funding opportunities.

Expanding the scope of LEI applications would provide critical technical support to Hong Kong's SMEs as they embrace ESG practices. This strategic move not only enhances transaction efficiency and minimises trading risks but also empowers regulators to develop a robust system that safeguards against systemic risks, fostering a more resilient and sustainable business ecosystem in the region.

In conclusion, the convergence of ESG compliance and LEIs presents a transformative opportunity for Hong Kong's SMEs. By leveraging these tools, SMEs can position themselves for growth in the ever-changing global marketplace while contributing to a more sustainable and prosperous future for the city.

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Source: South China Morning Post

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