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About DiD HK Limited

Co-founded by Patrick Cheung and K K Tse in 2008, Dialogue in the Dark(DiD) is one of the most successful social enterprises in Hong Kong. The 10 ‘Firsts’ of DiD saying that they are the ‘firsts’ in Hong Kong might sound self-congratulating. Suffice it to point out that a) all these ‘firsts’ are objective and verifiable facts; and b) they are the firsts in terms of time sequence, and do not necessarily mean the best.

 

 

No. 1   Enabling ‘People of Differences’ to showcase their talents


Perhaps by far the most important FIRST of DiD is its success increating opportunities for people of differences to showcase their talents.

In the Experiential Exhibition as well as the Executive Workshops,blind people serve as guides and trainers respectively to provide valuable learning experience for sighted persons.


In most other social enterprises, disabled persons are treated asrecipients of service or assistance; at DiD, however, sighted persons pay for,and benefit from, the innovative service provided by the blind people. DiD also pioneered the use of the term ‘people of differences’ in place of ‘people with disabilities’, which is still being widely used in the welfare sector.

DiD HK’s mission statement is “Engaging people of differences to create social impact.”

 

No. 2   Funded by a pool of private capital


 


19 shareholders collectively raised HK$5.6million of equity to start the company, with no government or philanthropic funding whatsoever. In Hong Kong, most people have the misconception that government funding is a prerequisite for social enterprise start up. DiD’ s experience has proved that it is possible to launch and develop a social enterprise without government funding support.                      

 

No.3   Self-sustaining ability

 

DiD had been able to break even in the seventh month of its operation. It became profitable at the end of the second financial year. Up to 2016, ithas already paid over HK$1 million intax – something unheard of among social enterprises in Hong Kong. (As alimited company, DiD’s tax rate is the same as other businesses.)

 

No.4   Dividends for shareholders

 

DiD pioneered the use of the ‘three-thirdssystem’ in profit distribution for social enterprises. One third of theprofits is retained in the company for development; another third is donated to Dialogue in the Dark Foundation (which supports people of differences to realize their dreams); and the remaining third is distributed to shareholders.

 

DiD started to pay dividends to the shareholders from the third year onwards, which is unprecedented in Hong Kong.

 

No.5   Concert in the Dark – first in theworld




In the first year of DiD’s operation, it created the first-ever Concert in theDark in Hong Kong (and the world). Supported by a corporate sponsor (1010),the Concert featured well known local singers. Up to 2016, six Concerts in theDark have been held. The expenses of the operation and promotion of the Concerts have been covered by the sponsor while the proceeds of concert admission tickets are donated to the Dialogue in the Dark Foundation.

 

A particularly encouraging development isthat the planning and management of the concert is now being taken over by ateam of people of differences, thus enabling them to interact and work collaboratively with talents in the performance sector.

 

No.6  Dialogue in Silence

 

Apart from the various dialogue in the dark experiences, DiD has inrecent years ventured into creating brand new Dialogue in Silence activities, including Executive Workshop inSilence, Dinner in Silence, etc. This enables DiD to engage people with hearing impairment to showcase their talents in a variety of ‘edutainments’.

 

Inspired by the success of Dialogue in Silence,DiD is exploring the possibilities of engaging other people of differences, such as those with physical disabilities.

 

 

No.7   The Power of Social Franchise

 

Dialogue in the Dark was created by Andreas Heinecke in Germany some 30 years ago. Dialogue in the Dark HK Ltd. has been a franchise ofDialogue Social Enterprise (DSE) based in Hamburg since 2008. But DiD HK hasbeen adapting the original format to suit local conditions, continuously modifyingand refining the core model as well as introducing brand new elements to thebasic offerings.

 

This demonstrates that social innovation does not necessarily involve ‘reinventing the wheel’. It is possible to adapt solutions developed in other places of the world to address some local social issues. The creative use of social franchise is a subject that deserves more attention by local social innovators.

 

No.8   Publishing a book to share experience

 



Scarcely two years after DiD was established in HK, one of the co-founders, Patrick Cheung, took the trouble of writing a book (in Chinese) to share in great detail the process of launching DiD HK. The purpose was to inspire more people to appreciate the power of social entrepreneurship and to launch their own social ventures.

 

Patrick’s effort in writing this book is at estimony of his passion in leveraging DiD to promote social entrepreneurship.He studied engineering in university and has never written even an article in Chinese in his life. But he wrote this book in Chinese, against all odds,proving that nothing is impossible if you put your mind on it.

 

No.9    Reaching the top spot in TripAdvisoron HK

 

DiD’s flagship Experiential Exhibition atMei Foo has attracted a large number of overseas visitors and has been receiving highly favorable feedback. About four years ago, DiD became the No. 1 tourist attraction in HK according to TripAdvisor – something unimaginable for a city like HK with its large number of tourist spots.(Unfortunately, owing to a reorganizing of the TripAdvisor site, DiD has been placed under a specialist category and lost its overall leadership position.)

 

No.10   DE Empower – creating employment opportunities for people of differences


 


DiD’s ultimate vision is to realize social inclusion. Over the pastten years, HK has witnessed increasing awareness of infrastructure building forsocial inclusion, such as the development of barrier-free access and special educations services. But there is one area in which social inclusion has madevery limited progress: employment inclusion. Most people of differences have great difficulty in finding employment in the mainstream labor market. Even for those  with university education, there are stillmany insurmountable barriers for employment.


While everyone at DiD HK is proud of the accomplishments of the company to date,there is also the acute awareness that much remains to be done to realize our dream of creating a truly inclusive society. Your continued support will begreatly appreciated.




*Remark: The concept of "Dialogue in the Dark" and its related trademarks are the intellectual property of Dialogue Social Enterprise.