Hong Kong SME Export Marketing Fund Guide: How it Works

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The Hong Kong SME Export Marketing Fund can cover 50% of your monthly online marketing costs, trade exhibition expenses and even the development of a new company website or e-commerce website.

In this guide, we explain what every small business owner in Hong Kong must know about the SME Export Marketing Fund.

Content Overview
  • What is the SME Export Marketing Fund?
  • What kind of export marketing expenses are covered?
  • Which companies can get this grant?
  • Can I get this grant if we don’t have an office in Hong Kong?
  • How much can we get?
  • How do I apply?
  • Which documents do I need?
  • How long does it take to get the grant?
  • How do we get the grant?

What is the SME Export Marketing Fund?

The Hong Kong SME Export Marketing fund was set up to provide grants to small businesses marketing their products or services outside of Hong Kong. In practice, this means that you can get 50% of your marketing costs outside of Hong Kong reimbursed.

That’s significant for any small to medium-sized business and can make customer acquisition far more affordable than it otherwise is.

Note that the SME Export SME Fund is only applicable to costs outside of Hong Kong. As such, marketing costs targeting companies in Hong Kong are not covered.

That said, the grant is applicable to marketing expenses paid to other Hong Kong companies. For example, trade show expenses in Hong Kong is covered by the SME Export Marketing Fund grant, despite the fact that the trade show takes place in the territory.

What kind of export marketing expenses are covered?

Here’s an overview of the expenses covered by the SME Export Marketing Fund grant:

  • Facebook ads
  • Youtube video ads
  • Google Adwords
  • Other online marketing expenses
  • Trade show expenses (e.g. HKTDC or Asia World Expo)
  • Company website development
  • E-commerce website developments

sme export marketing fund

Which companies can get this grant?

The grant is only available to Hong Kong-registered companies that also have their main business operations here. This essentially means that you need to have a physical office in Hong Kong, and local residents working for the company.

Further, the grant also set caps on the number of employees an eligible company can have:

  • Manufacturing company: Maximum 100 employees in Hong Kong
  • Non-Manufacturing company: Maximum 50 employees in Hong Kong

Can I get this grant if we don’t have an office in Hong Kong?

No. Hong Kong-registered companies operate outside Hong Kong are not eligible for this grant. You must have an office (not including virtual offices) and employees in Hong Kong.

Basically, your company must primarily be based in Hong Kong, but it doesn’t matter if you have 2 or 35 employees. What matters is that you’re not an offshore company.

How much can we get?

You will get 50% of your export-related marketing cost reimbursed by the SME fund, but only up to 100,000 HKD per application. Further, the total cumulative limit is 400,000 HKD.

Example A: Online Marketing

  • Monthly marketing cost: 10,000 HKD
  • Monthly grant: 50% x 10,000 = 5,000 HKD
  • Grant timeline: 400,000 / 5,000 = 80 Months

Example B: HKTDC Trade Show

  • Total exhibition cost: 250,000 HKD
  • Calculation: 50% x 250,000 HKD = 125,000 HKD (Above maximum)
  • Grant: 100,000 HKD (Maximum amount)

How do I apply?

You simply print and fill out the application form and submit it together with all the required support documents.

Which documents do I need?

The exact list of documents depends on the type of export marketing you’re seeking the grant for. Here’s a list of standard documents you may need:

  • Application form
  • Invoices
  • Bank statements
  • Printout of website pages and/or online ads
  • Location report (online ads)
  • HKID or Passport copy
  • Business Registration
  • NAR1

Keep in mind that they take the ‘export fund’ requirement seriously. For example, the application can be denied if you cannot provide that your Facebook or Youtube ads specifically targeted people outside of Hong Kong.

Further, they may ask for additional documents, so don’t expect it to go through on the first submission – at least not the first time around.

When should I apply?

You should apply within 60 days of the invoice date. As such, you cannot retroactively get this grant for all your export marketing expenses. The sooner you start applying, the better.

Once you know the routine, the document submission is a monthly exercise that’s fairly easy to manage.

How long does it take to get the grant?

That all depends on how long it takes to get your application approved. Don’t be surprised if they ask for more documentation, which can delay the approval for another month.

That said, once approved it normally only takes about 4 weeks.

How do we get the grant?

You will receive a cheque to your registered address. This cheque can then be deposited at your local bank branch.

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