Van company thriving in Hong Kong despite economic downturn

Global Business

Van company thriving in Hong Kong despite economic downturn1

Some of the economic data from Hong Kong might not look good, but there may be another side to the story.

The city’s economy contracted four-tenths of 1 percent in the first quarter, the largest decline since 2011. Yet, a recent survey crowed Hong Kong as most competitive, edging out rivals Singapore and the United States. 

CCTV’s Pamela Ambler talks to one company that’s thriving despite the tough times.

Van company thriving in Hong Kong despite economic downturn

Van company thriving in Hong Kong despite economic downturn

The city's economy contracted four-tenths of 1 percent in the first quarter, the largest decline since 201. But GoGoVan is thriving.

Called the Uber of delivery vans, GoGoVan’s founder, Steve Lam’s, sense of determination and innovation mark the story of the company.

As the owner of a lunchbox delivery service, Lam struggled with unreliable drivers and inefficient call centers. That’s what prompted him to set up his own mobile platform, cutting out the middlemen so users can contact drivers directly.

Fast forward three years, and the 29-year-old now has 18,000 drivers signed up, making deliveries on demand. Economic conditions have also played a part in the rise of GoGoVan.

A downturn over the past few years has left many truck drivers out of business, and GoGoVan has provided an alternative source of income.

“It’s getting harder and harder to do business in Hong Kong,” Lam said. “They lost a lot of long-term contracts; A lot of drivers are freelance. They have long term contracts. They spend some time on our platform.”

While GoGoVan has been able to capitalize on the tough business climate, it has felt the pinch.

“We have seen deliveries to retailers and the frequency of trips drop, and that’s having an impact on our business, too,” Lam said.

A sharp decline in mainland visitors to Hong Kong has hit retailers hard and dominated business headlines in recent months. But the sector accounts for just 5 percent of the city’s overall GDP. And signs don’t all point toward doom and gloom.

“Right now, if you look at the retail sector, what’s really happening is external demand that’s dropping off, the domestic side of things is still holding up OK,” Dennis Ma, head of GoGoVan research, said.

With unemployment rates remaining stable, and the city’s financial services sector on a solid footing there’s still plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurs with a competitive spirit to find success.


Sung Wohn Sohn discusses the Hong Kong economy

For more, CCTV America’s Michelle Makori spoke to Sung Wohn Sohn, professor of economics at California State University, Channel Islands, about Hong Kong’s economy.