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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

What are SMEs?

Manufacturing enterprises with fewer than 100 employees and non-manufacturing enterprises with fewer than 50 employees are regarded as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong.


As at September 2019, there were about 340 000 SMEs in Hong Kong. They accounted for over 98% of the total business units(1) and provided job opportunities to about 1.3 million persons, about 45% of total employment (excluding civil service)(1).

Most of the SMEs were in the import/export trade and wholesale industries, followed by the professional and business services industry. They accounted for about 47% of the SMEs in Hong Kong and represented 45% of the SME employment.

Distribution of SMEs (as at September 2019)


No. of businesses in SMEs(2) No. of persons engaged by SMEs(3)
Total(1)(4) 339 678 1 283 530
Industry Manufacturing 8 397 49 481 
Mining & Quarrying; Electricity & Gas Supply, and Waste Management; and Construction(4)(5) 1 655 16 335
Services Import/Export Trade and Wholesale 107 493 415 481
Retail(4) 43 857 144 109
Transportation, Storage, Postal and Courier Services(4) 8 379 45 490
Accommodation and Food Services(6) 14 009 125 964
Information and Communications 15 311 49 696
Financing and Insurance(4) 28 938 66 644
Real Estate 16 170 36 558
Professional and Business Services(4) 51 135 161 349
Social and Personal Services(4) 44 334 172 423



  1. Figures for total business units and total employment (excluding Civil Service) are not meant to represent the overall situation and the entire labour market due to incomplete coverage of the Quarterly Survey of Employment and Vacancies. Users should bear this in mind when interpreting the respective figures.
  2. Establishments in the Central Register of Establishments with the same main business registration number (BRN) and engaged in activities of the same industry section are grouped into one business unit for the purpose of calculating the number of SMEs.
  3. Persons engaged include:
    1. individual proprietors, partners and persons having family ties with any of the proprietors or partners and working in the business unit without regular pay, who are actively engaged in the work of the business unit for at least 1 hour on the survey reference date;
    2. full-time salaried personnel/employees directly paid by the business unit and working directors of limited companies, both permanent and temporary, who are either at work (whether or not in Hong Kong) or temporarily absent from work (viz. those on sick leave, maternity leave, annual vacation or casual leave, and on strike) on the survey reference date; and
    3. part-time employees and employees on night/irregular shifts working for at least 1 hour on the survey reference date.
  4. Economic activities not covered mainly include agriculture, forestry and fishing (entire industry section); construction (other than construction sites); hawkers and retail pitches (other than market stalls); taxis, public light buses, part of goods vehicles, and inland freight water transport; monetary authorities and self-employed insurance agents with no business registration; renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods; public administration (entire industry section); work activities within domestic households; activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies; religious organisations, authors and other independent artists, and some social and personal services.
  5. For the construction industry, business units refer to construction sites while persons engaged refer to manual workers at construction sites only.
  6. Accommodation services cover hotels, guesthouses, boarding houses and other establishments providing short term accommodation.

All figures are compiled based on the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification (HSIC) Version 2.0.

Central Register of Establishments, Census and Statistics Department
Quarterly Survey of Employment and Vacancies, Census and Statistics Department
Quarterly Employment Survey of Construction Sites, Census and Statistics Department

Last Review Date : 25 February 2016