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Creating Shared Value at the Mills: A Billion Dollar Experiment in Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

HBP Product : ST73
Case Author : Prof Jinyu HE and JP STEVENSON
PublicAction Date : 22.02.2019


When the Hong Kong billion-dollar revitalization of a set of derelict cotton mills in Hong Kong was first conceptualized by property heiress Vanessa Cheung, the project had a clear direction around which it was to be oriented. The Mills was to be a social institution: a space in which an otherwise poor and fragmented local community could connect with both its past, as a center of textile production, and its future. Financed by Nan Fung Group, Vanessa’s multigenerational family business and one of Asia’s most valuable property development companies, the Mills was underwritten without the diligence that might proceed projects of a comparable scale. Three years from project inception but still several months away from the facilities opening to the public in late 2018, the Mills struggled to operationalize the three business models it had evolved to encompass, namely, an incubation platform including co-working space; shopping space targeting pop-up stores and smaller retailers; a heritage center to operate as a non-profit museum. Vanessa also wondered how her project will deliver on its original vision of creating shared value for its stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

The case illustrates how entrepreneurs undertake shared value creation as addressing social needs, business opportunities and corporate assets. Students will gain an understanding of how to map stakeholder interests and identify sources of synergy that may occur across multiple levels: between the corporation and society, the business unit and its parent organization, and adjacent business units. They will be able to analyze how business model innovation and social entrepreneurship can occur in the context of a large, family-run, Asian conglomerate.

Company/Organization Nan Fung - the Mills
Industry textile, community services, exhibition and museum
Major Discipline Entrepreneurship
Case Nature Field
Page count of the Case 17
Teaching Notes 5
Publisher HKUST
Last Revision Date 25.03.2019