The women breaking business barriers

October 22, 2018 | 15:10
In the development of the Vietnamese economy, there are many women leading and inspiring the country’s business community, symbolising the strength and beauty of Vietnam and serving as role models for today’s youth. Hoang Oanh reports.
the women breaking business barriers
Nguyen Thi Nga

Madame Nguyen Thi Nga, a successful businesswoman who thrived in the early period of economic reform in the 1980s, is the chairwoman of BRG, standing vice chairwoman of Southeast Asia Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SeABank), chair of the board of directors at Vietnam Intimex JSC, and renowned as one of the most powerful women in the business arena. Madame Nga dares to dream big and has the ability to realise her big dreams. She is also well known for her strong and confident personality.

In the finance and banking sector, Madame Nga has been named multiple times on Forbes’ Asia Power Women top 50 list. Forbes ranked Madame Nga fifth on the list of the most influential Vietnamese women in 2015, and said of her, “Madame Nguyen Thi Nga is known as one of the leading entrepreneurs in Hanoi given her vast experience in the market since her inception in early 1980s. Her assets mostly come from investments in real estate, tourism, banks, and trade.”

Madame Nga has built a huge business with the multidisciplinary BRG Group, SeABank, the Hilton Opera Hanoi and Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, and a number of luxury golf resorts around Vietnam, as well as being a key shareholder in Intimex and other state-owned enterprises, holding many high value properties.

Discussing the secret of her business, Madame Nga said, “For me, whatever the job is, I always treat it as a competition. I have to be prepared as well as possible to make sure I pass and pass with a high score”.

the women breaking business barriers
Thai Huong

Contrary to the popular image of a businesswoman, the second character that VIR wants to introduce is the creator of a “fresh milk revolution in Vietnam”, a good cook and a great designer as well as an enterprising woman who always values traditional family values.

Thai Huong (born in 1958) is the founder of TH Group, and considered to be a trailblazer of the country’s clean and fresh milk revolution. The TH true MILK project began in 2008, and the fresh dairy products from the project were launched just two years later, quickly gaining milk market share and creating a complete change in Vietnam’s fresh dairy industry.

In 2015, Thai Huong was named by Forbes among the top 50 powerful businesswomen in Asia. The prestigious magazine also honoured her as one of the Vietnam’s 50 most influential women of 2016. When asked about these plaudits, she said, “I do not want to be called a powerful woman, I just want to be a woman of my family, but fate has forced me to become a strong businesswoman.”

the women breaking business barriers
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao

The third businesswoman VIR wishes to honour is affectionately called “the princess of aviation” by her cabin crew, and founded the first private airline licensed to operate in Vietnam. The presence and tremendous progress of Vietjet have changed the Vietnamese aviation market, popularising local air travel and achieving 41.5 per cent of domestic aviation market share at the end of 2016’s second quarter, according to CAPA (Centre for Aviation) figures.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, 47, general director of Vietjet and standing deputy chairwoman of HDBank, is the second dollar billionaire in Vietnam to be named by Forbes (following Pham Nhat Vuong, founder and chairman of Vingroup). She is also the first and only self-made female billionaire in Southeast Asia, according to Forbes in 2017. She is ranked 766th on the list of the richest people in the world, with a total net worth of $3.1 billion. Not only is she the leader of Vietjet, Thao also holds key positions at banks and enterprises, such as chairwoman of Sovico Holdings. Thao ranked the 62nd in the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women in 2016.

the women breaking business barriers
Nguyen Ngoc My

Joining the list of these veteran entrepreneurs Nguyen Ngoc My is the youngest successful second-generation businesswoman of Vietnam since the country moved to a market economy.

My is the daughter of Nguyen Tuan Hai, chairman of Alphanam Group, currently holding the position of CEO of Foodinco Land Company. She co-founded Alphanam Group’s SDesign architecture and design firm with her aunt Nguyen Hai Yen and Salvador Perez Arroyo, a leading post-modern architect.

She is also very much involved with her brother, Nguyen Minh Nhat, in managing Alphanam Food, with its French restaurant chain and the Seventy-Nine supermarket chain. In 2017, she was the youngest in Forbes Vietnam’s list of 10 business successors.

My’s favourite quote is, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

While working in different fields and having different age groups, the success of these businesswomen, representing hundreds of other businesswomen in Vietnam, has proved that modern Vietnamese women are confident, brave, and talented in the market. Despite accounting for only 25 per cent of the total number of entrepreneurs, their success is not inferior to men and they are receiving the recognition and honour of both the country and the world. This also demonstrates Vietnam’s achievements in the struggle for gender equality. Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, country director of Oxfam in Vietnam, said that Vietnam is one of the countries with the most progressive gender equality laws in Asia. Vietnamese women’s labour force participation of over 73 per cent is one of the highest in the region, as is the rate of female enterprise and farm owners at 24.9 per cent.

According to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2016, Vietnam’s gender inequality indicator (GII) is 0.337, ranked 71 out of 188 countries. The gender gap indicator (GGI) is 0.700, ranked 65 out of 183 countries. The proportion of female National Assembly deputies of the XIII Legislation (2011-2016) at 24.4 per cent has placed Vietnam in the group of countries with the highest representation of female politicians, ranking 43 out of 143 countries globally and second in the ASEAN.

In addition, Vietnam is also active in encouraging women to participate in business development, with a series of prestigious awards for women, as well as a special anniversary to honour their contributions, based on the founding day of the Vietnam Women’s Union on October 20.

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