Hanh, the entrepreneur who breaks gender stereotypes in Vietnam

Photo credit: Tày Indigo

By setting up her own tourism and local handicraft promotion business, young Hanh has overcome gender stereotypes. Thanks to Aide et Action, she acquired the necessary skills and was even able to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the small, picturesque rural town of Sapa, nestled in the mountains of northern Vietnam's Lao Cai province, 27-year-old entrepreneur Lo Thi Hanh is breaking down gender stereotypes that typically condemn rural women, especially those from ethnic minority groups, to unpaid domestic roles.

Like many girls in her village, Hanh dropped out of school as a teenager to get married and start a family. But once her son started school, Hanh began to imagine a life for herself outside the home. She began to promote Tay culture by offering tours and homestays in her village as well as promoting local crafts.

Creating better opportunities for women

Hanh's mother and grandmother never had the opportunity to receive an education like the other women in the community. Hanh therefore wanted to create better economic opportunities for the younger generation by generating tourism in her village and thus income for the inhabitants.

When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred and caused her business to close, Hanh focused on introducing her community's signature indigo fabric to a new market and bringing modernity to the tradition by selling the dyed fabrics on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. " It is difficult even for a man from an ethnic minority to start a business, so I am not talking about a woman like meshe says. But nothing can stop me from following my dream. "In September 2019, Hanh founded the Muong Bo Xanh cooperative and joined Aide et Action's vocational training project in February 2020 to learn new skills and receive mentoring.

Supporting ethnic minority entrepreneurs 

With the support of HSBC, our incubator project in Lao Cai and Hoa Binh provinces is designed to help ethnic minority entrepreneurs, such as Hanh, start their own businesses. The incubator encourages young people, especially women, to explore new options and opportunities outside of traditional careers so that they can fulfil their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Currently, Hanh has 20 members in the cooperative and, in addition to creating and selling Indigo products such as bags, curtains, cushion covers, clothes and more, she also grows and sells vegetables and crops. We hope that many other young ethnic minority women will be able to take advantage of our support to break out of domestic roles and build a professional life. In this way, they contribute to the long-term development of Vietnam.

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