Shopping, taking the MTR and paying for meals: the Octopus card has become an increasingly important and useful payment method for Hongkongers.
A group of Form Five students from Po Leung Kuk Ma Kam Ming College thought the many uses for the Octopus card could be expanded to include making donations. Tang Siu-cheung, Lee Kam-ching, Ho Ching-lam and Tang Nin-na suggested setting up vending machines for the public to make donations with their Octopus card.
Their idea was one of the award-winning projects in the Social Innovation Video Competition for Secondary Students, organised by the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund), a scheme that supports social entrepreneurship. Students are asked to come up with an innovative solution to a social problem, and present it via video.
"The idea is for people to donate HK$5 with every transaction. The money will go to charity organisations that help to feed low-income families. We called our project 'Rice and Love' because we want everyone in Hong Kong to have enough to eat," explains Siu-chueng.
Five dollars isn't a huge amount of money, but with the collective efforts of millions of people in the city who can afford to give, the students believe the project can make a difference.
"The plan is to install vending machines at bus stops and MTR stations so people can donate while they are waiting. Right now, most donations have to be made by writing a cheque or using a credit card, and this isn't very handy for students," says Nin-na. "With the vending machines, students can make donations by themselves easily."
The SIE Fund is currently working with Octopus Hong Kong to explore the possibility of such a facility.
Another winning project is "Drive to the Future", by Munsang College Form Five students Ip Tin-yan and Guan Ziliang, and Form Four students David Yao and Lee Kong-fai.
The project is a mobile nursery service for low-income families. The boys adapted the concept from the mobile shower service for homeless people in the US.
"The nursery is a bus. There will be tables and chairs where children can study and eat at the front, and comfortable sofas where they can read or listen to stories at the back. The bus will collect children after school and take them home in the evening when their parents get home form work," says Tin-yan.
The group decided to focus on this particular social solution because they think Hong Kong lacks affordable nurseries.
Despite having a great idea, the students realise it will take a lot of work to realise it. "To begin with, there are legal issues when it comes to altering the design of the bus the way we want. But we will do whatever we can to make it work. We are going to approach bus companies to see if they can give us old buses that can be transformed into mobile nurseries," says Tin-yan.
To see more great ideas like these, visit the Social Innovation Jam from May 7 to May 12 at Ma On Shan Sunshine City Plaza and from May 13 to May 19 at Kwai Fong Metro Plaza.