I had the pleasure to visit the Women’s Union of Quang Ninh Province near the famous Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. This training center is working to assist women who are suffering from domestic violence as well as trafficking. Like most of nonprofit organizations, finding enough resources to meet the needs is a challenge. Of course, there are many ways to solve this problem known to those of us working in this arena, but I couldn’t help but think immediately of an innovative organization in Sapa Vietnam that had developed a very successful model for raising funds.
Sapa O’Chau started like many us businesses start; with an entrepreneur who is passionate about an idea. Shu, the founder of Sapa O’Chau, wanted local people to benefit from the influx of tourism in the area and so started a tour company which included training for locals in English and guiding skills. Along the way, thanks to her passion, she inspired people from outside the area to join her in her mission by contributing time and financial resources to the organization. With the help of these many individuals, she raised the awareness of Sapa O’Chau which has made it possible for the organization to add a school for rural kids to receive an education. Local people are able to receive training on English and guiding services which enables them to earn a good living and take part in the explosion of tourism in the area. It seems to be a common perception here as in the U.S. that what is holding enterprises back is lack of capital.
Sapa O’Chau, like many us enterprises, started with little or no capital. What is needed is the idea, talented people and the ability to tell the story to get others to help. I wonder if a local model for success might work just as well if not better than a model imported from a different culture. The other enterprises I visited, particularly in Da Nang and Hoi An, also have successful models. I was left wondering what kind of sharing happens with successes throughout the country as there are many talented, hard-working people achieving great success.