Tech start-up incubators have sprung up across the world, in a concerted effort to uncover the next Google or Facebook and make a lot of money. But in Seoul, the government is driving a big push towards funding and incubating not just tech start-ups, but also those that have a socially good element to them.

On the surface, Seoul looks and feels like a great place; it’s clean, well organized, has delicious food and great nightlife, addictive KPOP and good looking people. But below the surface, like every other country, Korea does have many social problems.  One of the biggest problems is very high youth unemployment, which now stands at 8.3% for people below 30 years old. High youth unemployment is a result of a cycle that is hard to stop. Many graduates without jobs, create more competition for jobs, making young people frustrated and forcing them back into education which is getting more expensive, causing more stress because they can’t afford to pay it off, plus Korea is already an expensive country to live in.

This of course creates a lot of headache for the government to manage.  In a creative way, the government is looking to other young people with an entrepreneurial spirit to solve these problems by establishing incubation centers. On offer are funding grants of around 30M Korean Won (USD$30K) per enterprise per year, office space and other services like mentoring and education.  Social enterprises also enjoy favourable tax treatment and bank loan interest rates.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.