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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

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 December 2023, there were over 360 000 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, over 44% 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 more than 42% of the SMEs in Hong Kong and represented more than 42% of the SME employment.

Distribution of SMEs (as at December 2023)


No. of SMEs(1) No. of persons engaged(2) in SMEs
Total(3) 362 068 1 206 981
Industry Manufacturing 7 661 42 716
Mining & Quarrying; Electricity & Gas Supply, and Waste Management; and Construction Sites(4) 1 729 16 802
Services Import/Export Trade and Wholesale 93 222 345 692
Retail(5) 52 676 139 058
Transportation, Storage, Postal and Courier Services(6) 8 584 47 045
Accommodation and Food Services 16 013 113 490
Information and Communications 16 716 57 241
Financing and Insurance(7) 34 768 65 256
Real Estate 19 770 34 835
Professional and Business Services(8) 59 015 164 142
Social and Personal Services(9) 51 914 180 704



  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. Excluding monetary authorities and self-employed insurance agents with no business registration.
  8. Excluding renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods.
  9. Excluding work activities within domestic households; activities of extraterritorial organisations and religious organisations; and independent artists.

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 : 21 September 2023