Three years ago, Dinh Thi Huyen had a vision: her cooperative farm in Van Ho district, Son La Province, could improve living standards for her Muong ethnic minority community—if only their local specialty rice could reach more customers in Hanoi and tourist locations. Today, holding a beautifully packaged box of Seng Cu rice, she reports that there has been a doubling in the number of farmers working with the cooperative and a 20-percent-increase in their incomes.
“Our product has better quality, a recognized brand name, and a stronger position in the national market,” she says.
Be Phuong Nga, from the Nung ethnic group, also saw the potential for her business to grow, building on an existing value chain of medicinal plants cultivated locally in Vo Nhai District, Thai Nguyen Province. Today, one can purchase herbal shampoos, baby body washes and herbal materials for medicinal uses from her shiny new website. Her revenues increased fourfold in the last two years, which translated into boosted incomes for her staff and suppliers.
How did these two ethnic minority entrepreneurs from remote areas in Vietnam deliver on the promise of improving their communities’ living standards in only a couple of years?