Social Innovation through support for social enterprise is a notion which has been gaining momentum on a global scale. In Vietnam, the start-up trend has recently received a lot of attention, with support coming from both civil society and the government. Of particular note is a project titled Supporting the National Innovative Start-up Eco-System towards 2025, as well as the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union’s online discussion on ‘Creative Youth Driving our Nation Forward,’ both of which highlight the importance of start-ups in fuelling social innovation.
With the aim of stimulating social innovation among young people and inspiring a spirit of social entrepreneurship, this afternoon, 9 April 2018, the Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge was officially launched at Hanoi’s National Economics University. The launch event attracted attendance and support from the Dean of the National Economics University and representatives of the British Council in Vietnam, as well as event co-organisers and hundreds of students from across Hanoi.
The Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge is a part of the Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Program, an initiative spearheaded by the British Council in Vietnam, Northampton University, and a number of Vietnamese universities and support centres nationwide. The programme is a playground for Vietnamese youth to develop creative and innovative concepts that generate a positive impact on society. Over the three months the program will run, participants who take part in the challenge will be trained by experts in a range of skills that support business development. Taking place nationwide, the challenge has three rounds: a screening round in April and semi-final rounds in May in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. The challenge final will be held in Hanoi in late June. Candidates who take part in the final round will have a chance to join a presentations skills training course, attend a business fair, and visit social enterprises that are already up and running.
Focused on creating better job opportunities for recent graduates and other young would-be entrepreneurs in Vietnam, the Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge is not only an exercise in intellectual innovation, but also an engaging and practical forum for young people in that it provides fantastic opportunities to learn from university lecturers, entrepreneurs and peers from other parts of the country in each round. The enthusiasm generated by the launch of the challenge was clearly demonstrated in the strong positive response to the event launch discussion panel. Focused on contemporary social issues, creative business concepts and social enterprise success stories, the discussion lead by project founders and successful social entrepreneurs clearly inspired young people following the event nationwide.
The Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge represents an ideal starting point for all social creativity concepts seeking to promote socially responsible entrepreneurship. The challenge is expected to attract the attention of young innovators throughout Vietnam. Mrs Truong Thi Nam Thang, head of the Challenge organizing team shared: ‘We are so glad to co-operate with the British Council in Vietnam in creating the Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge. The British Council is very much a pioneering organization in stimulating the creation of eco-systems for social enterprise and creativity Vietnam. This challenge builds on the success of training for lecturers on social innovation held by the British Council in September 2017, training we believe was an ideal foundation for this contest as lecturers will now work closely with challenge participants as mentors, passing on their knowledge and skills to help young people participating in the contest to become successful business innovators in the future.’
The Vietnam Youth for Social Innovation Challenge has garnered support from a range of prestigious partners: British Council, Northampton University, the National Economics University, Thai Nguyen University, Vietnam National institute of Culture and Arts Studies, supporting enterprises in Da Nang, Nguyen Tat Thanh University, Saigon Innovation Hub and BK Holdings.
The British Council has been working with Vietnam since 1993. In 2018, we are marking this 25th anniversary with a series of events celebrating cultural relations and exchange between the UK and Vietnam.