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Global Education Taps Asian Market

EF Education First, a globally renowned education company, is expanding into Asia’s fast-growing education market from its Hong Kong base.

EF Education First (EF), a Swiss-based company founded in Sweden in 1965, was one of the first large-scale, international education businesses to explore the education market in Hong Kong. Since coming here 21 years ago, EF has become deeply rooted in the local education industry, sharing its vision of breaking down barriers in culture, language and geography. Now it’s expanding regionally.

Global Education Taps Asian Market

“Over the past couple of years, the education and language-learning business has grown exponentially in Asia. Parents are more willing to spend on their kids’ education, and private companies will provide language training to increase their staff’s competitiveness. To capture these untapped opportunities, and to manage our businesses in Asia more efficiently, we need a regional hub right at the centre of Asia — a place with high transparency, strong financial backdrop, a well-established tax regime, a stable economy and an open-minded community. Hong Kong was everything we were looking for,” Henry Wong, Country Manager of EF, Hong Kong, said.

“As of now, we have seen enormous demand for our educational program in an industry that is growing every year. We definitely made the right choice. All our core business functions in Asia — management, finance, accounting, sales and marketing — are based in Hong Kong, a place that never lacks talent,” he said.

EF is one of the world’s largest private education companies, specialising in language training, educational tours and cultural exchange. It has three divisions centred around language learning, education travel and university bridging programmes. EF is also affiliated with an independent, not-for-profit business school, Hult International Business School, and an independent not-for-profit exchange program, EF Foundation. With more than 500 schools and offices in 53 countries, EF has the scale and reach to achieve internationalisation in its programmes, which include at least 40 nationalities.

Along with Hong Kong’s prime location and super connectivity, the city’s cultural dynamism is essential to EF’s operations. Employees from many different countries work together at its regional headquarters here. “We believe it is important to truly understand the cultural differences of each country that we serve, in order to target markets across different locations more effectively and attentively,” Wong said.

The Hong Kong office was founded with a team of six. It now has 150 staff members, and including EF’s wholly-owned subsidiary, EF English Town, the number is 300. The recent move to a larger office aims to house the expanded operation. Wong said EF is always looking for additional talent to increase the firm’s competitiveness both here and abroad, through both relocation and dedicated management trainee and internship programmes aimed at nurturing the leadership skills of local undergraduates.

Wong also said that based on his own startup experience, government support is vital for setting up a business, and he appreciated InvestHK’s support and advice on applying for a visa.

Friday, September 4, 2015

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Fast Facts

  • Founded in Sweden in 1965, headquartered in Switzerland
  • Established in Hong Kong in 1994
  • Delivers services in language training, educational travels and cultural exchange

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