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 already invested effectively in development with the support of companies such as Diageo.

Even more importantly there are growing numbers of social enterprises, a huge potential for new social entrepreneurs and also help for existing organisations to develop into social enterprises. My lectures to University lecturers (and then to almost four hundred students!) showed that there is a real appetite for addressing social and environmental issues with sustainable business models.

The understanding of social enterprise as a means of bringing about change is becoming more and more understood!

In ‘Part 2‘ I’ll tell you about some of the amazing social enterprises I visited.