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Social Entrepreneurship in Vietnam – When considering the opportunity to participate in a program through NSCC International, I became intrigued with the current project in Vietnam which focuses on entrepreneurship.  I had so many questions…what is a common business start-up, is there assistance available for start-ups, are there many family run businesses, is being an entrepreneur a feasible career choice, are youth encouraged to be their own boss…?

During our visit to Tra Vinh, we had the opportunity to meet small business owners and people who are striving to pass on the business and trade skills to their family and children.  One lady we met hand wove mats – a skill that was taught to her by her grandmother.  She knows that technology and economics will change this skill and trade going forward, but nonetheless, she continues to support herself through self-employment.  We also spent time interviewing a man who was a farmer.  He saw the need for creating a distribution system and set up a wholesale business with his wife. His daughter is now currently in the process of becoming more involved in the business.

Over the course of 2 weeks, we also saw on campus start up businesses that are being mentored by faculty but run by students.  Very inspiring since the customers were students and faculty on campus.  This is a really great partnership.

Using these examples, the students (NSCC and TVU) developed their own business concepts and completed a final presentation to other students and faculty at the university.  The process of learning about the Vietnamese culture and the business environment was rewarding to me as an instructor.  I found that there were many similarities between Vietnam and Canada – knowing your market, following the marketing mix concepts, providing excellent service, and developing a good solid product or service in which the marketplace needs are the cornerstones to a successful business.

Many of my original questions were answered while participating in the program at Tra Vinh University, in southern Vietnam.  What I discovered is that the youth are indeed engaged to be self employed.  It was fascinating to hear the students at Tra Vinh University talk about their parents work and how they are also interested in starting their own business or eventually take over their family owned business.

Entrepreneurial ideas and attitude comes from encountering a challenge or problem and providing a solution to this challenge or problem.  As I discovered from this international learning experience, entrepreneurship is certainly something that can be applied to many facets of life and career.

Shari Mallory-Shaw

Business Administration Faculty

NSCC Truro Campus

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