After twelve years of a rewarding career in the corporate world, Karena Belin became an entrepreneur. As she put it, 'out of passion and inspiration to foster the growth of the tech and innovation ecosystem,' especially right here in Hong Kong, which she and her family now call home after two decades in the territory.
She is also a dear friend of HKU – The University of Hong Kong, where she has been a guest lecturer on the topic of 'Equity Crowdfunding' in Asia’s first MOOC, "Introduction to Fintech" - the largest online fintech course on edX, attracting over 114,000 learners.
Karena is the co-founder and CEO of WHub – a start-up ecosystem builder and the largest start-up platform in the city. Her group helps startups grow and enables stakeholders to connect with the innovative power of the local tech ecosystem. WHub is also an organizer of global conferences.
Most notably, earlier this year, WHub was appointed as the organizer of Hong Kong FinTech Week – which resumes its physical format on October 30, 2023 – by the Hong Kong Government.
She is also the co-founder, CFO, and RO of AngelHub, Hong Kong’s first and only investment platform for tech companies licensed by the SAR’s capital markets watchdog, the Securities and Futures Commission, for professional investors and growth tech companies scaling in Asia.
She is a founding board member of the newly established Web3 association called Web3 Harbour.
With a double diploma from the University of Mannheim and the MBA business school ESSEC in Paris, Karena worked for Procter & Gamble for 15 years in finance, sales, strategy, and M&A across Europe, North-East Asia, and Greater China.
She has been deeply immersed in the Hong Kong start-up scene for the past decade as a member of the Start-up Committee of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) of the HKSAR, as well as being on the Organizing Committee of the Innopreneur Awards of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI), and the HKTDC Belt and Road & Greater Bay Area Committee. She is also an ambassador of StartupAsiaBerlin, an initiative of the German Senate in Berlin, and serves as vice president of TiE HK and a member of the Hyderabad FinTech Forum core team.
Karena is also a '10 Best Female Entrepreneurs of the World by True Global Ventures and Women of Hope' Awardee. She has also volunteered at Hong Kong International School (HKIS) in several capacities.
She talks to Regulatory Ramblings’ host Ajay Shamdasani about the early part of her life, growing up, and being educated in Germany and later in France for her MBA. They also discuss how she transitioned from a finance and management background into life as a technology entrepreneur and her motivations for founding WHub and AngelHub as incubators to serve Hong Kong, guide, and develop budding innovators. The conversation also delves into the logistical challenges of putting together a key global event such as Hong Kong FinTech Week, the obstacles she has faced as a businessperson and particularly as a woman in tech and the corporate world, as well as her view that few places in the world come close to Hong Kong in enabling entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. Their chat concludes with Karena’s views on why she resolutely believes Hong Kong’s rule of law and robust regulatory system make it more than well-suited to cope with the emerging fields of FinTech and virtual assets.
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HKU FinTech is the leading fintech research and education in Asia. Learn more at www.hkufintech.com.