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Small and medium enterprises (SME)

What are SMEs?

Manufacturing enterprises(1) which employ fewer than 100 persons(2) and non-manufacturing enterprises which employ fewer than 50 persons are regarded as SMEs in Hong Kong.


As at March 2021, there were over 340 000 SMEs in Hong Kong. They accounted for more than 98% of the total number of enterprises(3) and provided job opportunities to more than 1.2 million persons, about 45% of total employment (excluding civil service)(3).

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 46% of the SMEs in Hong Kong and represented about 44% of the SME employment.

Distribution of SMEs (as at March 2021)


No. of businesses in SMEs(2) No. of persons engaged by SMEs(3)
Total(1)(4) 343 699 1 212 782
Industry Manufacturing 7 997 48 140
Mining & Quarrying; Electricity & Gas Supply, and Waste Management; and Construction(4)(5) 1 699 15 781
Services Import/Export Trade and Wholesale 102 920 362 576
Retail(4) 44 761 139 903
Transportation, Storage, Postal and Courier Services(4) 8 429 44 542
Accommodation and Food Services(6) 13 544 106 144
Information and Communications 15 941 52 171
Financing and Insurance(4) 32 077 70 986
Real Estate 18 050 37 400
Professional and Business Services(4) 53 728 167 127
Social and Personal Services(4) 44 553 168 102



  1. Establishments with the same business registration number and engaged in the same industry/services group are combined into one business unit (enterprise) for the purpose of calculating the number of SMEs.  An establishment is an economic unit which engages, under a single ownership or control, in one or predominantly one kind of economic activity at a single physical location (e.g. a branch/outlet of a company).
  2. Persons engaged include: (i) individual proprietors, partners and persons having family ties with any of the proprietors or partners and working in the enterprise without regular pay, who are actively engaged in the work of the enterprise for at least 1 hour on the survey reference date; (ii) full-time salaried personnel directly paid by the enterprise 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 (iii) part-time employees and employees on night/irregular shifts working for at least 1 hour on the survey reference date.
  3. Figures for the total number of enterprises and total employment (excluding civil service) refer to the sum of those industry/services groups covered by the Quarterly Survey of Employment and Vacancies and the Quarterly Employment Survey of Construction Sites as shown in the table only.  Industry/services groups not covered by the surveys are mainly agriculture, forestry and fishing; construction other than sites; and public administration.
  4. The number of persons engaged at construction sites refers to manual workers only.
  5. Excluding hawkers and retail pitches (other than market stalls).
  6. Excluding taxis, public light buses, part of goods vehicles, and inland freight water transport.
  7. Covering hotels, guesthouses, boarding houses and other enterprises providing short term accommodation.
  8. Excluding monetary authorities and self-employed insurance agents with no business registration.
  9. Excluding renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods.
  10. Excluding work activities within domestic households; activities of extraterritorial organisations and religious organisations; and independent artists.

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 : 28 October 2021