Set among the aromatic dried seafood and herb shops in Sheung Wan, Nam Pak Hong Association has been a linchpin of the local community for over 150 years. From the early days when it used to host neighborhood celebrations to its current-day fundraisers and competitions, Nam Pak Hong has always encouraged its members to develop a sense of investment in the community and society at large.
That focus on community building is one of the reasons for Nam Pak Hong Association’s longevity. The strong ties among its members and their commitment to sharing knowhow and contacts has ensured that this historic organisation continues to be relevant to this day. In fact, the Association’s mission harmonises perfectly with the core principles of a company like theDesk — both sharing a forward-thinking and human-centred approach to building a community that believes in mutual benefits and success.
A bridge between countries
One of the oldest industries in Hong Kong dating all the way to 1851, ‘nam pak hong’ — which literally means ‘South and North traders’ — refers to the original merchant trade between the north and the south, which saw goods from China and raw materials and food from Southeast Asia being bought and sold through these traders.
Nam pak hong wasn’t solely concentrated on the import and export trade, however; it was also involved with a number of other businesses, including money remittance to China or insurance – activities that supported commerce and considered just as important as trading itself.
With their reach from China to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world, it’s no exaggeration to say that nam pak hong enterprises function as global connectors linking together international goods, individuals, and businesses
The foundations of Sheung Wan
Originally composed of Chiu Chow immigrants, the merchants involved in nam pak hong built their businesses and communities in Sheung Wan, helping the district become one of the earliest to develop in the history of colonial Hong Kong. The close-knit community that the immigrants formed in Sheung Wan meant that they were able to cooperate with each other to find property to rent or buy, find connections, and learn the ropes of doing business. Nam pak hong enterprises took over Wing Lok Street, Ko Shing Street, and in particular the two Bonham Strandes which became known as Nam Pak Hong Street. To this day, the ties that were formed in those early years are an integral part of Sheung Wan’s neighbourly culture.
A pillar of unity and support
Founded in 1868, Nam Pak Hong Association was the first business association established by Chinese in Hong Kong, setting its headquarters on Bonham Strand East and eventually growing to be the largest among all the Chinese associations. From the beginning, Nam Pak Hong Association instituted itself as a model of integrity, emphasising the importance of having a good reputation and honoring verbal and written agreements. The Association set trade rules to tell people the expected code of conduct in business, holding its members to standards that protected commercial stability.
Because of its long history, the Association is acutely aware of the need to constantly innovate and look forward in order to stay relevant. The Association has its sight set on harnessing the skills and abilities of the new generation, and strives to morph into an attractive community for the younger, more diverse talent pool.
The Association provides opportunities for younger members to join delegations and conferences and bring back what they’ve learned to benefit the local community. In this way, while the Association passes on its wealth of knowledge and experience to a new generation of businesses, these businesses also contribute fresh ideas and innovations to ensure the Association’s continued growth.
In many ways, the Association and theDesk both have the same mission: to bring together a diverse group of individuals and businesses who meet, collaborate, discover new ideas, and even create new partnerships. By helping members create strong ties to each other and acting as a reliable unifying force that provides advice and resources, both organisations foster and grow robust and vital communities
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