Ben Tre aims to become startup province

The Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre is one of the leader in implementing the governmental project ‘Supporting national innovative startup ecosystems until 2025’. It is especially successful with its program ‘Dong Khoi – Starting Up and Developing Businesses’.

Visitors at the booth of startup businesses from Ben Tre Province. Photo by Huu Hiep

Visitors at the booth of startup businesses from Ben Tre Province. Photo by Huu Hiep

In 2016, the Ben Tre Provincial Party issued the Program No. 10-CTr/TU on ‘Dong Khoi – Starting Up and Developing Businesses’. After three years running, this program has achieved certain positive results, fostering the establishment of a true startup environment and freer investment environment in the province.

From 2016 to 2019, there were 2,890 companies in total, with the aim for 2,500 new ones in 2020. 15,039 new families in the province took part in commercial activities, an increase to 45,953 province-wide. The program received 980 documents to request support on new ideas and projects, 369 of which were already approved. It also financed 1,554 projects of various scales with the total capital of around VND1,761 billion (approx. $75.46 million).

Thanks to various suitable policies and favorable conditions, many individuals dare open their own businesses while others also have excellent startup ideas to escape poverty. Several startup models such as shaping handicraft coconut, manufacturing bio-fertilizer from coconut peat, producing cosmetics from coconut, or making probiotics from bagasse pulp have been impressively fruitful.

One of the most prominent example of these startup successes is the small-scale business of Ngo Thi Hoang Oanh, located in Khanh Thanh Tan Commune in Mo Cay Bac District. After pursuing the major of business administration in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms. Oanh realized the potential of her hometown in creating cosmetics from coconut oil. In 2016, she and her husband established a family-scale company to produce lipsticks and soap.

Oanh shared that the road from the initial step to achievements today is not at all easy. She had to pay dearly for that success. At the moment, her company creates around 5,000 – 7,000 bars of soap and 2,500 lipsticks to sell on social networks to customers all around the country. She now has new ideas to make shower gel from coconut.

According to Mr. Phan Van Mai, Standing Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party cum President of the Consultation Board on Startup Activities, in the last three years carrying out the program, Ben Tre Province has been able to form a relatively complete ecosystem, with various consultation and support activities. This allows residents to confidently start up their own businesses creatively, applying advanced technologies. The final aim of these works is to help people share the prosperity.

As said by Ms. Vu Kim Hanh, President of the Business Association of High Quality Vietnamese Products, the daring spirit and the sustainable thinking have helped Ben Tre Province reach its current success. It can now become a model of innovative startup ecosystem for other locations in the Mekong Delta, commented Mr. Nguyen Phuong Lam, Director of VCCI Can Tho.

Despite these remarkable achievements, the program ‘Dong Khoi – Starting Up and Developing Businesses’ still encounters various obstacles like a quite low rate of truly innovative startup activities, the limited ability of the mobilization teams, the misunderstanding of many startup people.

The Secretary of the Provincial Party Vo Thanh Hao shared that Ben Tre Province is yearning to aid all residents escape their poverty status and increase the local budget. The only way to achieve that is through startup activities, which is now becoming critical in the region. He added that startup activities here must aim at making wise use of current natural resources and smartly applying modern technologies.

In the near future, Ben Tre Province is going to professionally focus on the three minor programs of incubating and boosting businesses via strong connections among business founders; fostering tourism activities; and continuing the upgrade on the investment environment to increase the performance of the startup ecosystem.

By HAM LUONG – Translated by Thanh Tam

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