Flying in, it’s 9 pm local time on a half full Vietnam Airways plane. Flying over Hanoi there are lights and you can see that it is expansive, but there is something different that flying over Sydney or Melbourne. Very little height. It’s all flat. Walking through the airport, it is absolutely huge. Masses of space which seems to go unused. Truly vast. Getting through customs is all a blur and then I walk outside and I get hit by a blast of warm, wet air, truly like a sauna.

Uber, the ridesharing powerhouse holds a strong market share in Hanoi so I order one and in minutes a small Hyundai i10 rolls up, I jump in and say hello. From that moment it is obvious that the language barrier is going to be significant. Post ride I look at my bank account to “check the damage”… 8 bucks! I was in the car for at least 40 minutes and I was charged 8 dollars. Thinking about this, I know that instantly Uber has that 2 of those 8 dollars, for the 50km traveled that’s a dollar or two of petrol, then there is the maintenance of the car so all in all the driver can’t have made more that $1.50 profit from my 40 minutes. Is this representative of business in Vietnam in general or is Uber just really screwing its Vietnamese drivers?This really provokes thought about the economy of Vietnam and in particular what state is it in to be a hub for startups and entrepreneurial work. The truth I have been discovering throughout this journey and work is that the world is built on money. The delivery of social impact rides on the back of being able to develop an economically viable, sustainable and scalable business. With this being said, Vietnam is well and truly primed for social business.This is evidenced by the huge startup culture here, with more co-working startup spaces in a single city than I have ever seen.

This really provokes thought about the economy of Vietnam and in particular what state is it in to be a hub for startups and entrepreneurial work. The truth I have been discovering throughout this journey and work is that the world is built on money. The delivery of social impact rides on the back of being able to develop an economically viable, sustainable and scalable business. With this being said, Vietnam is well and truly primed for social business.This is evidenced by the huge startup culture here, with more co-working startup spaces in a single city than I have ever seen.

The trick is going to be finding our niche that we can create impact in. Of course we are looking into that of water and agriculture at the moment which piggybacks off our continued success with FarmEd in Fiji. An interesting study which is currently underway will be investigating the viability of a ‘FarmEd type’ system in Vietnam and then from there pulling out the bits that work, the bits that don’t work and altering the system so it is fitted to the particular sphere that we are in. Personally I am hypothesising that we will find a PMF for the product particularly in the Rice industry, which accounts for 7.4% of global rice exports. So far the research indicates that there are many smaller holdings and the industry is disjointed.With our Water assessment aswell there are a number of paths to go down. Currently the team is looking into water pollution and supply of potable water which is clearly an issue as you still can’t drink the tap water safely in Vietnam. But there is also the potential to look into agricultural water management in a much deeper scope.

With our Water Assessment as well there are a number of paths to go down. Currently, the team is looking into water pollution and supply of potable water which is clearly an issue as you still can’t drink the tap water safely in Vietnam. But there is also the potential to look into agricultural water management in a much deeper scope.

The game is truly afoot here in Vietnam. The teams are excited. I’m excited. And Vietnam is ready for us to shake up the game a bit.

Kai Faulkner
Group Leader – Vietnam – July 2017
Bachelor of Design in Integrated Product Design & Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, UTS

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