Business Insight

Transforming Asian Education: Kit Wong’s 10-Year Journey from Finance to Creativity

Jinny Kim
June 17, 2024

In many Asian countries, the education system remains heavily exam-oriented, often at the expense of fostering creativity and critical thinking. Even worse, test-oriented systems are often criticized for their detrimental effects on student well-being due to its rigidity. 

Surveys in South Korea indicate that between one-fourth of teenagers have experienced self-harm or suicidal thoughts due to academic stress. In India, authorities reported 24 student suicides related to the pressure of competitive exams in the district in 2023. 

It seems that education fixated on exams in the Asia region fails to unlock students' potential or enhance the meaning of life. Recognizing these crucial issues, Kit Wong decided to make a bold career change from banking to social entrepreneurship to address these problems. 

In this interview with Asia Tomorrow, Wong shares his inspiring story, his motivations, and his vision for the future of education and social entrepreneurship. 


Source : Kit Wong

From writing lyrics to founding multiple startups aimed at empowering youth and promoting inter-generational harmony, His efforts are focused on providing an alternative approach to education that values and promotes creative thinking, problem-solving and more.

How is Wong spreading creative educational methodologies across Hong Kong and the rest of Asia? What is he ultimately trying to achieve by founding various types of businesses beyond education?

Join us as we explore the experiences and insights of a man dedicated to making a lasting impact on education and society through entrepreneurship, challenging the conventional exam-based education system prevalent in Asia.

A banker became a social entrepreneur teaching creativity

Q.Could you please introduce yourself briefly to the global readers of Asia Tomorrow?

Certainly! I am Kit Wong. I founded La Violet Education in 2014, partnering with corporations such as UBS, CLP, Mitsubishi Electric, and PwC to design creative courses for more than 100 schools annually. In addition to that, I established Under Production to empower young people to work in the creative industry.

Besides, I’m a lyricist with over 200 songs published, having written for renowned singers such as Alfred Hui, C AllStar, and Janice Vidal. My work also includes writing Cantonese lyrics for Disney films like ‘Encanto,’ ‘Toy Story 4,’ and ‘Frozen II.’ In 2017, I organized my first solo lyrics show titled 《紫此一次》.

Recently I founded another startup; Grand Ma Ltd. to care for the elderly and promote inter-generational harmony and Creativity is Not Limited to incubate passionate young people to build their personal brands.

Before venturing into these diverse fields, I worked for American and Japanese commercial banks for over a decade. 

Q.Awesome. It’s impressive that you went from a banker to a youth education startup founder. What brought you to change your career so far?

I graduated from the university in 2003, the SARS year in Hong Kong, when job options were limited. Jobs related to my risk management degree were especially scarce. With limited job choices, I was selected by a corporate bank.

Many people feel that working in a bank is high-stress. However, I never really found banking work to be overly difficult. In some areas that only focus on results. The benefit is that as long as you achieve your performance targets, you have the freedom to allocate your time and priorities. So I just chose to do the things I enjoyed in my spare time

I started writing lyrics in 2003, completed my master's degree in 2007, started volunteer teaching in Tin Shui Wai in 2008, published my first prose collection ‘Not a Robot in This Life’ in 2013, and on a small scale held the first ‘Not a Robot in This Life’ dream project in 2014. These were all my side jobs while working at the bank. 

This multifaceted identity allowed me to be recognized as a Youth Leader in 2013, and I was interviewed by TVB's ‘Today VIP’ and Apple Daily, which made me wonder if I could do a bit more.

The poster of the film produced by Under Production, credit : Under Production

Q.It means that your side hustle became a main job at some point.

Sort of. Finally in September 2014, after saving up two years' worth of living expenses and paying the down payment for a home (to give myself a budgeted plan), I resigned from my job and embarked on my entrepreneurial journey by founding La Violet Education, which designs creative courses for more than 100 schools annually now.

When I resigned from my job, there were many things I wanted to do, but the one I hoped to do the most was education work. After teaching in Tin Shui Wai for many years, I gained deep insights. I found two problems or issues there. 

One is that wealth disparity becomes discrimination in education

The students I interacted with were very obedient and appreciative. However, due to their generally less affluent family backgrounds, with parents busy with work and unable to accompany them. Compared to the children of my friends around me, who have traveled extensively around the world, my heart felt heavy. 

Wealth disparity is a phenomenon in all societies, but in education, can we narrow this gap a little?

Another is that the education environment is not creative at all

Students are studying for the exams. When I give them freedom to write the article without any topics, they don’t know where to start. And they have to ask questions like “Can I write this?” although I give them freedom. 

I’m sad to see this. But there is hope. When I give them a specific topic, they can easily write which means that they can be educated creatively. That’s why I would like to run this education business.  

Connecting education, production and elder-focused startup

Q.What was the reason you became an entrepreneur, not a full-time teacher instead?

In my work in the commercial bank, I interacted with Hong Kong-listed companies and SME entrepreneurs or decision-makers. I gained insights into their business policies, personal philosophies, and crisis management abilities. 

Over those ten years, I witnessed clients' success, failures, and transformations through financial crises, RMB (The Chinese Renminbi) appreciation, labor shortages, and more. The experiences I accumulated may have laid the foundation for my future entrepreneurship.

Also, I once accepted an invitation from the Yan Oi Social Enterprise to share, learned about the concept of social enterprises, and realized that running a business can also incorporate elements to solve social problems. I started to reflect on whether my role could do a little more. 

8 years of experience in teaching lyric writing allowed me to grasp that what I was teaching was essentially inspiration for creative thinking. In the exam-oriented education system, students' creativity training is often overlooked, yet my work experience has taught me that creativity and innovation capabilities are essential for work, and even important elements in life. 

Q.I heard you are starting two new businesses (besides running La Violet and Under Production). What are each of these businesses, and why did you decide to start them now?

Creativity Is Not Limited (CI) is a resource platform for gathering young creative brands. We now have more than 20 partnered brands called ‘COMers’.

CI aims to provide in-depth training and various types of support for young entrepreneurs including: job matching, co-working space sharing, equipment rental, company development consulting and networking, etc. 

Scope of services includes event management, creative marketing, digital marketing and artist & writer management. So they (COMers) only need to focus on their passion and own work, but free from those tasks they may not like but critical in running a business. 

This is found because I have experienced the hardship of an early stage founder. I know that many youths hesitate to start their business because they don’t know / want to handle it. 

Source :

Grand Ma Limited (GM) was established with the aim of encouraging everyone to ‘treasure the moment and be courageous’. Through various intergenerational activities, GM is intended to advocate the physical and emotional needs of the elderly and promote mutual understanding across generations

The signature intergenerational projects include these below.

  • ‘Your Recipe Our Memory’ Family Project (funded by the Social Innovation Fund): recording the traditional family recipes through the production of cooking documentaries to promote family stories and memories
  • "All start from a cup of tea" (in collaboration with Woopie Club): creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for tea drinking, increasing opportunities for interpersonal communication, and promoting social integration
  • "Learning about the Future" : to understand the feelings and practical needs of seniors in their later years, learn how to become caregivers, and break the taboo of discussing death in society, promoting end-of-life education.

I’ve always liked to look at the elderly issues a lot. I have wanted to do something for them since I was young, mainly because I have a very good relationship with my Grand Ma. In her name (in Chinese), I want to do something for the elderly, in a way to memorize her.   

Source : Grand Ma

Deep Dive into 10+ year founder’s experiences with various businesses

Q.Since 2014, you have consistently provided entrepreneurship education (La Violet). What have you learned or felt while providing education for over ten years?

Students are often smarter than I initially thought. There are clear trends in the types of ventures they want to pursue, often following what is currently popular in the market. For example, when I first started, many were interested in opening cafes, then got into esports, and now want to be YouTubers.

When I have the chance to learn alongside these students, I find they are more engaged and interested than if I simply try to impart knowledge. So in that sense, I see my role more as a facilitator than a traditional trainer. I'm there to guide them and provide resources, rather than dictating what they should do.

Q.Your business model for La Violet Education is mainly B2B, right? 

We are B2B and partly based on funding. We are selling our service to schools, not individual students. And we are also working with the corporates who want to execute their CSR project or marketing for schools if we agree with their missions. 

As an example, MITSUBISHI is selling air conditioners and still wants to let people know that they have environmentally-friendly technology. We thought it’s a good campaign so decided to help them to spread their messages via our projects connected to the schools. 

Q.How do you come up with the project ideas? 

In fact, our formula or our model is quite simple and direct. We hold the seminar with our partner school students as a moderator and make the students group to have a workshop

The topics of these workshops can be diverse from elderly issues, environmental problems to poverty. After then, we showcase their creative ideas of the products and services from the workshops as the forms of competition or exhibition to the public. 

Normally, our clients come to us as they can see that we have the tangible results, the solid networks with schools, and the know-how and experiences. 

Q.What is the most important aspect you are focusing on to build a new platform that differentiates itself from existing businesses and services?

Our way to run the business is to assign ownership to those who are involved in the project. That means, the students of La Violet, the freelancers of Under Production, the COmers (partnered brand) of CI, etc., are all stakeholders. They can even give their ideas on how we should go.

Content production, education, various brands and hospitality project can be aligned together to address the social issue and embark the creative spirit of the youth, Source : Under Production

Q.For quality control, besides education or training, how do you build a successful network? How can you find the right person to work with?

When we try to talk to the right partner or instructor, we are focusing on the passion for the education, alignment with our mission and good communication skills. Also we see what the potential partners’ agendas are too to be open and transparent to collaborate well. They might need money or look for the opportunity to work at schools. Of course to do this, you need to have a good division first. 

How to grow more than ‘Zero to One’ with the right team

Q.What’s the most challenging part of doing the job? 

At first, it was very smooth as I’d started from zero. So if I had only one school to work with then, it would still be a big growth. There are about 400 schools in Hong Kong so even when we had contracts with 100 schools, it was quite a big achievement. 

However, now we are working with hundreds of schools as we have been in this industry for 9 years. So when we talk about how to grow now, it becomes very difficult. It includes how we can improve our quality, how we can expand our users, networks, partners and donors. 

We call it the second stage of growth as it’s different from the first stage of growth in that we are going to make it stable and not make that aggressive growth like the first stage. 

In short, our team learnt that we need to face the change as time goes by. What if we have 100 full time employees? That’s a different story. So we have to change every month and year. We must change our organization, methodology, the way to operate the daily jobs and the programs. Basically we cannot rest. 

I have this pressure that we need new programs for the clients although many NGOs are operating the same programs every year. And sometimes they even copy our programs which is a good signal for me as this means ours are working and we have more resources and experience for doing it better. So right now I’m happy but worried at the same time.

Q.You have founded various businesses so far. How many employees do you have? 

I have 4~5 teams. Each team has 3~4 full time staff who are working on different projects. They are the project managers. So I’m not the only one who is working. 

Also, there is a lot of collaboration among teams. So we are cooperating with each company. Plus, we have external team members who are not full time staff, but can connect us to the schools. Also there are the instructors who let us bring students to the activities and the freelancers who help on production works. 

Source : La Violet Education

Q.As a leader, how can you keep your team resilient in these changing circumstances?

To be honest, I don’t have time to tackle the operation matters. I’d rather empower the employees and give them motivation. Because, one day, I need to step down but it is not easy to designate one person to lead the whole group. 

So I divided them into five teams and they are all leaders to collaborate and learn from each other. And each team has different sales, marketing, and risk managing know-hows. So they can focus on the smaller entities and different tasks. 

Plus they can learn the whole operation issues while they run the team even when I’m still here. I, with no professional skills but with business senses, can give ownership and authority to them. Good for them and good for me, as I cannot take care of everything forever.

Advice of the founder to nurture the Asia entrepreneurship 

Q.What are your short-term and long-term plans for the future? Do you have any intention of expanding into the global market, including Asia?

If I may tell you the short-term plan, we already have the yearly contract so I’d like to run it smoothly. Actually we are building our management team so I hope I can give them all my experience and prepare them well to be the leaders of specific entities next year. Thus, for the second half, I will try to give them more advice and help them to overcome the difficulties.

We have a road map. But we don’t have specific 5, 10 years of plans or targets. We have the programs that we are happily running and will take all the opportunities to do it in the future. So let’s say we are open to the change we may face in the future.  

Actually. I don't cling on any concrete plans for the future these days, for a few reasons:

  • I am already doing something I truly enjoy, and don't see a need to "plan" for other changes if everything is going well with my current work. Of course, I remain open to any interesting new opportunities that may arise.
  • Based on my experience in life, like the COVID-19 pandemic, I know the world is changing too rapidly and it's very difficult to accurately predict the future. With the development of AI, I expect the pace of change to only accelerate further. So being flexible is more important to me than extensive planning at this stage. (This is a shift from when I was younger and did a lot more long-term planning.)

Seoul Social Innovation Trip 南韓社會創新之旅- YouTube
Source : Seoul Social Innovation Trip

Regarding expanding to the global market, I'm certainly interested in the potential for my business models like Under Production Ltd, Creativing Is Not Ltd. and Grand Ma Ltd. to reach an international audience. However, I currently lack the necessary network and resources to pursue that actively. 

Also, I believe there is value in allowing each nation to develop their own local adaptations of these projects, rather than me trying to directly expand them abroad. That said, if I'm able to successfully expand a Hong Kong-based social enterprise overseas, I would be very proud of that achievement.

Q.What kind of entrepreneur do you aspire to be in the long-run? 

I don't need much money. So, if I continue my entrepreneurship, I will only do (1) something I like, or I feel is interesting, (2) having a business model and can generate income and (3) that is meaningful, with those three elements together.

Besides, I have no desire to own a particular company or project. I want to inspire more people to run their own projects, start their own social enterprises to respond to what they feel is most important. I want to use my experience to guide them or provide the resources (network or insights) I have to let them run their projects seamlessly.

Q.Could you give some advice to young people in Asia who are considering starting a business or want to become entrepreneurs?
  1. Flexibility is key - the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, market conditions, and customer needs is critical for any business to thrive. Being rigid and set in one's ways can lead to downfall, so maintaining an open and agile mindset is crucial.
  2. Balancing doing good and sustainability is vital. Sustainable business practices not only help the environment, but can also improve efficiency, reduce costs, and build long-term resilience. At the same time, having a social mission or purpose beyond just profits can give your business deeper meaning and attract like-minded talent and customers.
  3. Effective leadership is essential, especially as businesses grow and require coordinating teams. Being a good leader means having a clear vision, empowering employees, and bringing out the best in people. It's one of the most challenging aspects of entrepreneurship, but getting it right can make all the difference.
  4. Passion and alignment with your work is so important. Chasing pure profitability or opportunities without that intrinsic motivation is a recipe for burnout. Doing something you genuinely enjoy and find meaningful will sustain you through the inevitable ups and downs.

Written by Jinny (underdogs)


*Discover the inspiring journeys and business insights of emerging Asian entrepreneurs!

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Jinny Kim
underdogs. Media Manager & EO STUDIO. Freelance Writer