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Day 1: International Study Trip to Vietnam

Day one of our international study trip was packed with visits including: the Center for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP), Hanoi University of Mining and Geology (HUMG), and Toong, a local coworking space. 

Center for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP)

The first stop on our international study trip was the Center for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP). Having just completed Professor Ansbach’s course on Topics of Social Entrepreneurship, I was thrilled to hear firsthand about businesses that were tackling some of Vietnam’s social issues. In 2008, CSIP was the first social enterprise to register in Vietnam, and their mission is to support social enterprises through consultation services that range from operations to management, supply chain and finance.

Pictured: Grace Hoang and Chona Sarte

Grace Hoang, the social enterprise business coordinator, and her team have helped transform and create awareness in Vietnam’s social enterprise sector. Prior to CSIP’s collaboration with the country’s business office to create a new social enterprise article definition, businesses operating under this model were unable to register as a social enterprise business type in Vietnam.

CSIP has turned their focus now to developing a business arm to tackle healthcare issues and sustainable agricultural.

During my previous travels in central Vietnam and villages in Sapa, I found it interesting that some local people were unaware of global social issues like climate change and accessible healthcare that could potentially affect Vietnam directly. Ms. Hoang confirmed that creating awareness for these issues and changing the people’s mindset has been a difficult task for many organizations in Vietnam.

However, CSIP efforts in promoting social enterprises are working. For every dollar CSIP invests into their projects, $4 in revenue is generated. Opportunities like these are wide open for MBA students and businesses to create a positive impact in Vietnam.


Hanoi University of Mining and Geology (HUMG)

After our meeting with CSIP, we met with the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology (HUMG) for a forum discussion with 40 or so undergraduate engineering students. This public university is under the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training. Priscilla Ng introduced our group to the students, who were very bright and eager to learn about our lives and about education in the U.S.

The allure of high salaries working with Singaporean companies in Vietnam drew many students to study mining and geology. Also, the high education quality and breadth of subjects gives students a chance to switch positions within the oil and gas industry.

Here is some of the dialogue we exchanged:

Graduate School of Management: Why did you choose mining and geology?

HMUG: The allure of high salaries working with Singaporean companies in Vietnam drew many students to study mining and geology. Also, the high education quality and breadth of subjects gives students a chance to switch positions within the oil and gas industry.

Graduate School of Management: Where are you interested in working after finishing your degree?

HUMG: They were interested in working overseas in Singapore, Thailand, China and Malaysia because of the vast opportunities in the mining and oil industry. Oil and gas is an attractive industry because the high salaries. Students can work in upstream and downstream activities, such as mining and refining.

Staff: Students are very worried about the price of oil, but the director eased their concerns with his reassurance that oil prices will bounce back.


TOONG

Guest blogger: Chandra

Nestled in the heart of Hanoi, TOONG is a young company that, six months ago, started a coworking space in Hanoi. Individuals and companies can rent space and desks.

TOONG, pronounced “two-ong,” means beehive and is a coworking space startup. In a country where enterprise is/was largely driven by state-owned enterprises, it was nice to meet a budding and passionate entrepreneur. Mr. Duong started the company in the face of overwhelming criticism about profitability of shared office space. Just seven months later, the company has expanded to three more office locations.

The environment here at TOONG resembled Silicon Valley. The various rooms were filled with entrepreneurs who were working on their big projects.

The incredible architecture, art and community have become TOONG’s competitive advantage. Walking through the office space and looking at young entrepreneurs working on fashion, technology and marketing to move Vietnam into a modern economy was very exciting. TOONG has gained local prominence after hosting dignitaries like Google’s CEO, and I am looking forward to hearing more exciting from this exciting company.

The environment here at TOONG resembled Silicon Valley. The various rooms were filled with entrepreneurs who were working on their big projects. It was interesting to see the different industries represented. Below, you can see fashion and tech startups working next to each other. TOONG hopes this collaborative spirit encourages startups to work together or create synergy. Many of us left TOONG feeling inspired.

Day 2 Blog: the Hanoi Hilton and Forum with AMCHAM

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