Southeast Asia is quickly becoming a hotspot for wandering expatriates and ambitious millennials looking to capitalize on the region’s growing support for social enterprises. Vietnam is just one country that’s taking advantage of this trend, and in 2014 the country amended enterprise laws to provide social entrepreneurs with special consideration and the ability to obtain investments both domestically and abroad. Here are a few social enterprises helping developing countries compete in a global market:
- Zo Paper is creating a demand for the high-quality, traditional Vietnamese “Do” paper by finding modern uses for it with lamps, notebooks, envelopes and greetings cards. This helps employ rural villagers and preserve what was a dying tradition. Zo now has a gift shop in Hanoi that sells beautifully handcrafted supplies to locals and tourists alike.
- Tohe encourages playfulness and creativity by repurposing children’s artworks into lifestyle products such as clothes, accessories, housewares and toys. They host creative workshops for disadvantaged children and selected artworks from those classes are then redesigned and sold to help fund their classes and scholarship programs. Tohe has locations across Vietnam including major airports.
- Dexterity Global is creating the next generation of leaders through educational opportunities. The social enterprise provides educational resources and training to middle schools and high schools in remote areas of South Asia. They hope to connect promising young students with opportunities that will equip them with the mentality to solve “21st-century problems with 21st-century solutions.”
- Based in Cambodia, FunkyJunk is an innovative social enterprise that seeks to address pollution and provide opportunities for disadvantaged communities. They upcycle plastic bags from the streets and fields and turn them into beautiful, functional, long-lasting treasures.
- Founded in Singapore in 2014, WateROAM develops simple, portable, and affordable water filtration solutions to significantly improve access to clean drinking water. This enterprise promotes social change in rural areas and helps bring about quick access to clean drinking water at disaster-hit locations.
Once upon a time, doing social good was mostly restricted to charities. But in today’s world, social enterprises make it possible to do good and support local and global economies at the same time. As a social enterprise in Vietnam ourselves, we’re glad to be in good company!