Jill Kong, Beetales, shares the buzzworthy story of a nature conservation company
Jill Kong, the co-founder of Beetales, pitched at the Impact Auction during Creative Collision 2023. Little did she know that this experience would become a turning point for her social enterprise, leading to crucial connections, particularly with HKEX Foundation, and opening up exciting new opportunities. In this interview, Jill shares her insights and answers our questions.
What is Beetales about?
“We are a social enterprise focusing on bee conservation in Hong Kong. Our mission revolves around beekeeping, educating the public about bees, and providing job opportunities for teenagers and young people.
How did the story of Beetales start?
In 2020, my friend Harry Wong traveled to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. He witnessed how people were not valuing their natural resources. He came back to Hong Kong with the goal of contributing to nature conservation here. Bee conservation seemed more feasible for us compared to protecting forests or oceans. At the time, I was in my third year studying Environmental Science at the university, and I said yay! Let’s go!
Jill answers our questions on Beetales and their venture since the Impact Auction. – Photos by SVIHK
Why are bees critical to humanity?
The extinction of bees would lead to a major food crisis for humanity. Bees play a crucial role in our food chain as they pollinate one to two-thirds of our food. With fewer bees, food prices would rise, quality would decrease, and we would face hunger. I see people disrupting the balance of nature due to a lack of understanding. We want to dispel misunderstandings and fears surrounding bees.
What does your Impact Auction pitch mean to you?
The Impact Auction holds a special place in my memory as a meaningful experience. It was my first time speaking with people in the same field, who are working towards a better society and sustainable development. I received a lot of business cards in my jar, which was unexpected for me. At the time, I spoke with many people, but I didn’t anticipate the concrete outcomes. I couldn’t imagine that I would secure funding.
Jill Kong, pitching Beetales to the audience of CREATIVE COLLISION 2023. – Photos by Vincent Tsoi, We Image Productions
Why was the Impact Auction a turning point for Beetales?
HKEX Foundation is one of the significant connections I made at the Impact Auction. It was lifesaving, so to speak. I met Matthew Lee, who introduced me to HKEX Foundation. We applied last spring and were recently awarded funding to launch the bee rescue team. With previous funding, we had trained 30 people in beekeeping over the past nine months, and 10 had conducted bee rescues on a trial basis. HKEX Foundation’s support will allow us to achieve a larger goal and raise awareness on a larger scale.
What is the role of the bee rescue team?
When people find a swarm of bees under a footbridge, in tree holes, or other sheltered places, they usually inform the management company, which then uses pesticides to destroy the swarm. Particularly during spring or summer, when hives split into two, the second colony needs to find a new location. While looking for the perfect spot, they may temporarily rest in places such as balconies, walls, or traffic lights in the city for 2 to 3 days. People often are so scared that they don’t give them time to move away. We want our trained volunteer rescue team to pick them up and release them into the wild, as done in other countries. To accomplish this, we need more trained volunteers in Hong Kong. We also need to inform the public, as well as companies in real estate, facility management, and pest control industries, about bee rescue. HKEX Foundation will support us in this mission, sponsoring training toolkit, promotional fee, and honorarium for bee rescue.
I highly encourage any young social enterprise founders to participate in the Impact Auction. Prepare your pitch and make it engaging and informal to catch people’s eyes balls. You can meet funders, access networks that were previously out of reach, and learn from those who started social enterprises a few years ago about driving a sustainable social enterprise.
Harry Wong, the co-founder of Beetales, was the one inviting Jill to join him for a beekeeping venture – Photo by Beetales
Did the Impact Auction help you in other ways?
I also met the founder of a children’s education organisation. They brought 40 kids and parents to our center for a bee tour and workshops, and they thoroughly enjoyed their time. I also met Karen Koh, who invited Harry and me to RTHK for a 20-minute podcast. It was our first English podcast experience. Additionally, we connected with a French multinational company. We visited their office to speak on bee conservation and present our workshops. We are still in discussions with them regarding a potential bees oasis project. It’s incredible. As tiny as a bee, we have connected with such large corporations. I remember my heart beating with excitement!
What would you tell a social entrepreneur about the Impact Auction?
I highly encourage any young social enterprise founders to participate in the Impact Auction. Prepare your pitch and make it engaging and informal to catch people’s eyes balls. Leave room for conversation. You can meet funders, access networks that were previously out of reach, and learn from those who started social enterprises a few years ago about driving a sustainable social enterprise. It has been a turning point for Beetales, a significant change that allowed us to connect with more significant companies and learn from them. Without the connections we made at CREATIVE COLLISION, it would have been very tough for Harry and me. I am grateful for joining the Impact Auction and would never thank Bonnie Lau, at the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of HKU, enough for introducing me to it.”
Want to know more on Beetales and engage in their activities? Click here
The Impact Auction: Scaling impact-driven business
The Impact Auction is one of our most popular sessions at our annual flagship event CREATIVE COLLISION.
The principle is simple: “corporate-ready” impact venture founders tell their stories in 5 minutes flat.
The audience “bid” just one hour of their time with their name card if they want to learn more, partner, fund, mentor, refer, or share.