Combining Sweden with Hong Kong should foster a great startup environment. Sweden has a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship and Hong Kong is regarded as a global startup hub. Hong Kong’s proximity to Shenzhen and integration to the Greater Bay Area has facilitated great prerequisites for startups in the city to flourish.
SwedCham HK has several interesting startup members and entrepreneurs with very different backgrounds. We aim to tell their stories and showcase their work. A series of articles under the name SwedCham Startup Insights will be published on our website. This week’s article is about Malin Rignéus, Counsellor and founder of Leva Counselling Ltd.
Leva Counselling Ltd works in partnership with companies to support their employees’ wellbeing through corporate health management services, such as counselling programmes. The aim is to empower and engage employees in the following three key areas:
- Prevent ill health such as burnout and negative stress
- Support employees as they are going through challenging times
- Develop soft skills and personal awareness
In addition, Leva Counselling offers counselling to individuals and specialises in stress and anxiety management, depression and providing support during difficult circumstances.
We sat down with Malin and asked her some questions.
Why did you decide to set up Leva Counselling Ltd in Hong Kong?
“Employees in Hong Kong corporations often have very demanding work lives, it’s not unusual for staff to work extremely long hours often in combination with difficult living situations. With a background working in human resources, I believed there was limited support available in the corporate wellbeing area, especially for English speaking staff. I felt there was a need to provide quality professional assistance to employees’ psychological wellbeing.”
Have you encountered any challenges when doing business in Hong Kong, compared to elsewhere?
“There has been a lot of positive change in the corporate health management area in Hong Kong in the last few years. However, there is still a substantial amount of stigma present when it comes to seeking help and talking about mental health issues, compared to Western culture. This is especially poignant within the local less individualistic culture, where people avoid seeking help as it can be perceived to reflect negatively on their family. However, positive transitions are taking place and an increasing number of organisations are realising the benefits of providing support to their most important asset, their people.”
What do you find unique about Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area?
“The lack of bureaucracy when opening up a company is fantastic for startups, as it removes both cost and time during the initial establishment phase. The availability of affordable and high quality shared offices are great for new companies, enabling outgoings to be kept low. These co-working spaces also provide instant opportunities to build a network, where you can learn from and inspire each other. Hong Kong has a unique small community feeling, even though it is such a large cosmopolitan city with good marketing channels.”
To finish, we asked Malin if she had any advice for new startups or businesses considering setting up in Hong Kong. She emphasized that the first years can be tough. – Believe in your business idea, but prepare to be flexible during the journey ahead.
”The first year for a startup can be challenging. It is imperative that you have an idea that you are wholeheartedly dedicated to. You need to be able to convince investors to put their trust in your company’s future success. If the business does not work in practise as you expected, do not avoid tweaking your business idea to fit the market requirements. Being flexible and truly listening to your customers’ needs are extremely important. It probably goes without saying to keep the costs low during the starting up period. Make sure you shop around for competitively priced suppliers, low office costs, etc. as you can make large savings through spending some time on comprehensive research.”