‘The users are happy with our apps after the try-out. They find them functional and user-friendly, and more importantly, they feel the care from us. That’s what drives me to move forward.’
Adding colours to the life of visually impaired with technology
With an uncle having visual problems, Michael Fung Kwong-chiu knows well the needs of visually impaired people and has worked hard to help them overcome barriers in everyday life with technology. He has then developed three iSEE mobile apps with his schoolmate Lui Kin-ching and two friends, which help people with visual impairments to identify banknotes, menus and other reading information. With these innovative apps, the team defeated over 200 contestants and won the championship of the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge 2016.
Setting up business to help others
Michael has always been a keen participant in student activities and actively involved in the University’s student societies, including Enactus. In 2014, he set up a social enterprise Fruit Peels Family with other members of Enactus, using re-cycled fruit peels to produce green cleaning products and hiring the disadvantaged to take part in the manufacturing process. The business plan scooped the Best Presentation Award in the same competition that year.
With these valuable experiences, the ‘upgraded’ business has been going rather smoothly. ‘The team is going all out for the business with grim determination. We also met several industry experts during the competition who have given us inspiring guidance.’ To better understand the needs of the end-users, Michael has contacted the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind. ‘The users are happy with our apps after the try-out. They find them functional and user-friendly, and more importantly, they feel the care from us. That’s what drives me to move forward.’ After collecting users’ comments, Michael added a useful function to the apps that helps them distinguish colours, which seems like adding a flush in their lives.
Building career with creative mind and determination
Michael thanks the OUHK for equipping him with the computing skills and knowledge needed for an IT start-up. And he reckons that his participation in student activities has helped him strengthen his interpersonal skills and get in touch with the real world. ‘Through the visits to social enterprises organized by Enactus, I have a much better understanding of the actual business operations.’
Michael still maintains a close relationship with his teachers after graduation. He always sought advice from them during the development of iSEE, and some of his colleagues are actually his fellow schoolmates referred by his teachers. On the day of the interview, it was like an OUHK alumni reunion. He was also invited by the University to share his experience of starting a new business. ‘I am passionate about running my own business and have lots of crazy ideas. I like to think out of the box and enjoy looking for new opportunities during the process.’ Currently his company is trying a new business direction with focus on offering accessible facilities testing service. However, Michael never forgets what gets him started in the first place, ‘I would strive to develop more commercially viable products to help the disabled live a better life.’