On 11 November 2021, Aide et Action in partnership with Northwest Development Cooperation Center and Youth Union of Hoa Binh and Lao Cai provinces organized the final round and the award ceremony of the “Business Initiative Challenge” competition online, co-sponsored by the European Union and Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam.
The “Business Initiative Challenge” competition is part of Aide et Action’s project “Increasing access to livelihood opportunities for ethnic minority youth through the promotion of career development entrepreneurship initiatives” to improve incomes for ethnic minority youth aged 16-30 in the northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam through supporting career development and business initiatives.
From 26 March to 26 July 2021, the “Business Initiative Challenge” competition attracted more than 50 proposals from ethnic minority youth from the four provinces of Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Cao Bang and Lao Cai. The proposals covered areas such as livestock, agricultural farming, herbal medicine, tourism and technology applications.
A total of 28 proposals were selected for the semi-final and the participants received training online in Hoa Binh and Lao Cai for five days from 25-29 September. This was a unique opportunity for young people to improve their project development capacity and presentation skills with experienced experts.
In the final round, the judges chose 13 of the best projects and the participants had the opportunity to present and defend their ideas, convincing the judges about the feasibility of the projects as well as the positive impacts their project could bring to the locality in the near future.
Based on four criteria – creativity, practicality, sustainability and implementation – and the ability to have a positive impact on socio-economic development in the locality, the judges scored and gave the final result.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition awards ceremony was live-streamed and featured the participation of representatives of Youth Union of Hoa Binh and Lao Cai in the role of co-organizer with Aide et Action and the Northwest Development Cooperation Center, the judges, representatives of donors, guests, media and the creators of 13 proposals selected for the final round.
The event revealed the winners of the five Gold Prizes valued at up to 120 million VND, thanks to sponsorship from the European Union.
In first place was Giang A La from Mai Chau, Hoa Binh with Hang Kia Tourism and Agriculture Services project.
In second place was Trinh Thi Thanh Hoa from Da Bac, Hoa Binh with Growing and producing natural fibres from hybrid ramie (gai lai) project.
Vu Thi Ngoc Huong from Sapa, Lao Cai, took third place with Online tourism experience with indigenous people project .
In fourth and fifth place respectively were Thao Seo Xa from Bac Ha, Lao Cai with Growing interspersed Ta Van plum with drip irrigation project and Ly Yen Nhi from Lao Cai city, Lao Cai with Organic bitter cluster eggplant (cà đắng) herbal tea project.
First place winner Giang A La, a H’Mong young man representing Mai Chau province, Hoa Binh broke down in emotion when he heard the organizers announcing his name. “I have started businesses before and failed many times. The competition has renew my dream, although I still have many shortcomings, I will definitely not give up on the path I have chosen.”
Two Impressive Prizes, with the value of 25 million VND each, sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam, were awarded to Hoang Thi Hoan from Bao Thang, Lao Cai for Producing medicine from dried grapefruit peel project and An Van Tuan from Van Ban, Lao Ca for Producing and trading herbal extract project.
In addition to cash prizes, the winners will receive professional and technical advice from startup experts, the Youth Union of Hoa Binh and Lao Cai provinces, Aide et Action and the Northwest Development Cooperation Center to implement their projects in the next two years.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Tu, Country Director of Aide et Action expressed her joy at seeing more and more practical and creative ideas based on local knowledge and experience of young people to start a business and make the locality prosper. “Together with our partners, we call for the spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprise among young people, especially ethnic minority youth to improve their livelihoods not only for themselves and their families, but also the community,” Ms. Tu emphasized.
“The participating projects are typical models for the innovative entrepreneurship of ethnic minority youth. In the process of starting a business, you always face many difficulties due to lack of capital, knowledge and skills to operate the business, but your eagerness to learn and fearlessness are very remarkable, and they brought you victory today,” said Mr Nguyen Hai Dang, Deputy Secretary of Provincial Youth Union, Chairman of Vietnam Youth Federation in Lao Cai province during the event.
The competition has already postively promoted the role and creativity of ethnic minority youth in their entrepreneurial journeys, creating and strengthening sustainable values in and for the locality. Through the competition, ideas and projects will be further incubated to effectively realize and replicate further in the future.