Social Enterprise in Vietnam Part 2: Meeting Some Inspirational People and Amazing Social Enterprises!

During my recent trip to Hanoi I had the joy and privilege of meeting some inspirational founders of social enterprises. KOTO is a social enterprise that trains people in catering and hospitality in a real restaurant setting. The model is working well and is spreading to other parts of Vietnam. I visited KOTO and was warmly greeted by young people who demonstrated their skills in customer services and fluency in English. It put my Vietnamese to shame but they did let me sample their exceptional dishes. I also met two Australian volunteers who were so moved by their experiences in working with young people at KOTO they have committed to giving support, ranging from teaching English to helping to write the next annual report. There’s a bit of a food theme developing here! At the Hoa Sua Restaurant at the Museum of Ethnology I had lunch with Mrs Pham Thi Vy, the redoubtable 71 year old founder of the training school there....
Read More

Social Enterprise in Vietnam: ‘Hanoi in October! The Best Time of Year to Visit!’

Welcome to 'Part 1' recounting my recent trip to Hanoi, Vietnam. The poignant quote above is the words of Tran Thi Hong Gam from the British Council. She was right! Not about the weather but about the enthusiasm and visible signs of growth in the social enterprise sector in Vietnam. Over four days of meetings, visits and lectures I was able to hear more about what was happening at a policy level. I also met some of the people involved in supporting social entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality and help social enterprises to grow their impact and become sustainable through trading. The understanding that social enterprises are businesses was clear and the message that it was more than 'corporate social responsibility' was being spread effectively. There are some great supporters of social enterprise such as Ms Pham Kieu Oanh and her team from The Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP) and it is apparent that the British Council has...
Read More

My Day at Carlshead Farm

Visited an amazing #socent @Carlsheadfarm last week. Giving opportunities to ex-offenders to learn new skills in forestry and farming and supporting them to find work in the local area. Great success stories of young men who have turned their lives around, been given confidence in their own value and equipped with the learning and qualifications they need to gain employment. This is exactly what is needed to deliver the transformation of rehabilitation. The challenge is to find the sustainable business model to enable this work to continue and grow. The budget to pay for the qualifications is no longer available. Carlshead Farm is being asked to provide work experience for less or no money and although some work can be done commercially this needs equipment and supervision which has to be paid for in some way. They have the offer of a seconded member of staff but have to find additional funds from somewhere else if they want to continue and...
Read More