Dim-sighted get help with start-up teams new app

 20 March 2017 The Standard

Local | Sophie Hui

Two start-up enterprises stood out in a competition in which they created apps that help the visually impaired to make friends andresidentsto become tour guides in their districts.

The winner, iSee Mobile Apps founded by a team of five youngsters, created three mobile apps - iMoney, iNews and iMenu - launched in November last year to help visually impaired people in their daily living and expand their social circle. Users can interact with the apps through voice control with their smartphones.

One of the founders, Lui Kin-ching, said: "Our mobile apps focus on helping visually impaired people to have a more convenient life: iMoney app can help them recognize bank notes, iNews can help them receive news information, and iMenu can help them find a new restaurant and check the menus easily.

"Our apps do not show any advertisements so the visually impaired can get the information directly."

The team started the social enterprise in August last year and have successfully applied for the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund. To refine the design of the apps, they have visited the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind and collected comments from visually impaired people.

The first runner-up, Kaifong Tour, aims to help people discover their neighborhood and encourage residents to be tour guides to show another side of Hong Kong to tourists.

The Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge launched by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong since 2007 aims to encourage start-ups of young social enterprises. More than 7,000 university students were involved over the past 10 years. The competition has chosen four social enterprises, which were founded by university students and fresh graduates, based on their social impact and sustainability of the business.

The other two were PaterMater and Heycoins.

Elsie Tsui, project director for the competition, said: "This is the 10th year for us to organize the competition and Hong Kong's social enterprises have become more mature and more diverse. They are not only creating job opportunities for the disadvantaged, but services to our community through technology."

There were 574 social enterprises in Hong Kong in 2016, more than twice the number of 222 in 2008.


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