Overseas Vietnamese return with tech skills

January 25, 2020 | 16:00
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Vietnam is calling for all resources at home and from overseas Vietnamese people in order to fuel the country’s socio-economic development. Luong Thanh Nghi, vice chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, delves into how they have contributed to national development, with the help of various digital solutions.
p31 overseas vietnamese return with tech skills
Luong Thanh Nghi, vice chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese

Kimble Ngo, CEO and founder of Ampmarketing Blockchain, is a good example of the experts coming back to Vietnam, led by the dream of making changes in the country’s blockchain industry after seven years of working in Singapore.

According to Ngo, Vietnam is blessed with many of the best blockchain engineers. Compared to Silicon Valley in the US, or hubs like Singapore, Vietnam lacks the voice to let the world know that it is really ready for this field. The country is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, owning a team of young and dynamic engineers always eager to learn new technology. He said Vietnam can become a blockchain research and development centre of the world.

Within a year of returning to Vietnam, Ngo has become an active leader in the network of young overseas Vietnamese who have created startups in the country with activities helping young people develop themselves and their careers. He is also the representative of the blockchain NEM.io group in Vietnam.

Through his passion, Ngo has provided effective consultations for blockchain companies and banks in Vietnam in term of strategy as well as hosting startup events in Vietnam and Singapore such as Sharktank and Echelon.

Vietnamese intellectuals

Ngo is just one of the hundreds of thousands of overseas Vietnamese intellectuals who wish to contribute to the country’s development.

Nguyen Thanh My is a 60-year-old overseas Vietnamese from Canada. Deciding to return to his hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, he wished to improve the lives of farmers in the delta.

Establishing RYNAN Technologies, My has created jobs for hundreds of young technology engineers through research and producing smart fertilisers, smart software for measuring the salinity of water, controlling irrigation, and assessing environmental pollution. These new technologies have been applied in Tra Vinh and the nearby Dong Thap province, as well as the northern province of Thai Binh, helping to reduce the impacts of climate change and revive agriculture in these provinces.

Meanwhile, another overseas Vietnamese named John Tran has created the creative planting model of a “mobile vegetable garden”. Leaving the glory of the financial industry that many people desire, Tran left the United States for Vietnam, embarking on smart farming with hopes to change people’s mindset in doing agriculture and approaching clean and safe agricultural products. In 2014, Tran established GreeOx Vietnam, an agricultural-technology company in Ho Chi Minh City, which grows vegetables in containers. Using no land, no sunlight, and reusing 90 per cent of irrigation water, this model is a completely new form of cultivation that has been well received by consumers.

Meanwhile, Luong Thanh Van, an overseas Vietnamese from Australia, returned to establish Viet Uc Seafood Corporation with the aspiration of “enhancing Vietnamese shrimp”. From its initial base in the south-central province of Binh Thuan in 2001, so far, the group has built six high-tech shrimp farming zones and many export processing factories stretching from north to south, providing 25 per cent of the shrimp breeders for the country.

By late 2017, Viet Uc Seafood became the only company in Vietnam successfully researching and producing shrimp breeding. In 2018, the group’s shrimp breeding farm became the first in Vietnam to be awarded the certificate of production facility meeting disease safety standards as recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

This is considered a turning point not only for Viet Uc Seafood but also for the Vietnamese shrimp industry. And in early 2019, the company was valued at about VND7.4 trillion ($330 million) by investors, higher than VND6.1 trillion ($265.2 million) of Minh Phu, one of Vietnam’s largest seafood exporters.

Daniel Nguyen Hoai Tien, a young American-Vietnamese man, also decided to return to Vietnam. Having little knowledge about Vietnam and Vietnamese people, Tien decided to learn Vietnamese and discover life here. So far, he has successfully deployed many projects to help and guide ethnic minorities how to raise and cultivate crops to raise productivity and output, and improve living standards. Currently, Tien is implementing a project to craft unique whiskey made from Vietnam’s native corn varieties.

Working together at home

In 2019, overseas Vietnamese business and intellectual resources were brought into full play. Currently, there are about 3,000 enterprises of overseas Vietnamese operating in the whole country with the total registered capital of $4 billion. Currently, 52 out of 63 cities and provinces have investment projects of overseas Vietnamese.

The community of overseas Vietnamese businesspeople is gradually growing, with its position and role consolidated in the host country with many trade and investment promotion activities, connecting with domestic businesses, ministries, agencies, and localities. Programmes organised by overseas Vietnamese businesspeople such as the first Overseas Vietnamese Economic Forum in South Korea in June last year, the Vietnamese Business Forum in Europe held in Warsaw of Poland in September, and the expanded Thailand-Vietnam trade promotion conference in Udon Thani in the same month have contributed to promoting Vietnamese businesses and brands to the international market.

Along with investment projects of overseas Vietnamese, remittance is also an important resource to promote production, business, and economic development. According to the announcement from the World Bank, in 2019 the amount of remittances to Vietnam is estimated at $16.7 billion. The country has been among the top 10 countries receiving the most remittances for three consecutive years.

Besides that, the community of overseas experts and intellectuals is also increasingly asserting its role. According to unofficial statistics, the contingent of Vietnamese experts and intellectuals abroad has over half a million people. Every year, nearly 500 people regularly return home to collaborate with ministries, branches, and localities. More and more associations and groups of intellectuals and experts are contributing to the development of science, technology, and the socio-economic development of the country.

One of the typical events of the past year is the Vietnam Global Leaders Forum in France in March 2019 organised by AVSE Global, bringing together nearly 300 successful Vietnamese in many different fields from 25 countries and territories around the world. At the forum, a network of influential Vietnamese people has been established.

Besides this, the America Bracelets 7 programme in August, with the participation of about 300 youth delegates and students across the US held by the Vietnam Youth and Students Association in the US, was also an opportunity for overseas young people to develop more effectively. Meanwhile, the first World Youth Academy Conference, held in Vietnam in July last year, was a result of the ongoing efforts of the Vietnam Young Academy in the United Kingdome.

According to Nguyen Duy Nhien, chairman of the Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic, overseas intellectual resources are a veritable gold mine for the nation.

However, despite significant contributions to the country over the years, the number of experts and intellectuals participating in scientific and technological activities in Vietnam compared with the number of total overseas Vietnamese around the world is modest. According to the proposal of the heads of Vietnam’s representative missions abroad, the network of scientific and technological experts who are overseas Vietnamese should operate practically and effectively. Vietnam should identify priority areas, formulate appropriate new mechanisms and policies, and commensurate remuneration policies, creating a favourable environment for intellectuals to return home to work and co-operate with domestic colleagues.

The international environment is changing day by day, while Industry 4.0 on a global scale are providing many opportunities for development but also poses the challenge of being left behind if we do not take advantage of it. In that case, overseas Vietnamese resources are considered effective support for the country to develop and reach the position it deserves in the region and the world.

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