Striving for Success: How a Passionate Agro Engineer Starts Her “Natural Beauty” Business
Leaving the bustling capital to settle down in Thanh Hoa, Tran Thi Hong could not have imagined that she would face so many difficulties on her business path. But with resourcefulness and a curious spirit, Hong is gradually overcoming obstacles and shaping her direction for her small business to research and develop pure natural products of flowers and herbs.

Hong started her business and developed it when COVID-19 spread out in Vietnam. When the pandemic complicatedly developed in the country recently, her shop was severely affected. The sales of products were slow, leading to a decrease in revenue by nearly a third compared to the same period last year. That, however, is not the only difficulty that the young businesswoman faces as for her, the pressure also comes from postpartum health problems and a new living environment.

“Having given birth to two children quite close together, my physical and mental health deteriorated significantly. When it came time to start a business, I felt even more stressed. Moving to Thanh Hoa, I had difficulty adapting to the people’s lifestyle, culture, and even language. I sometimes felt unsupported and lonely because I didn’t have friends or loved ones around. But in return, I am fortunate because my husband always supports me wholeheartedly in both business and family care.”

Despite the advantage of having studied biotechnology and worked in a laboratory, Hong admits that is also her weakness.

“I have many ideas, but I did not have business knowledge before, so I could not execute them. Besides, as a technical person, I find myself quite a newbie in business management, so when I need to advertise products on social networks, I don’t know how to make it attractive.”

With the capacity-building courses of the Ignite initiative (CARE Ignite), implemented by CARE International in Vietnam and its partners, Hong has gained a lot of new knowledge from which to decide to build her own business.

“I learned about business planning, financial management, emotional balance… This knowledge helped me become more interested and engaged in business and helped me reduce stress to have a successful career, which gradually helps me calmly shape my direction”, Hong shared.

“The course also helped me connect and feel more shared. To this day, the sisters still contact each other and talk about business models that we can link.” Moreover, through the Initiative, Hong can get access to loans from Thanh Hoa Microfinance Institution and other intensive coaching opportunity to expand her business.

CARE Ignite is sponsored by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and accompanied by partners such as WISE or MEVI to provide skills support packages, guidance, and mentoring for female entrepreneurs like Hong to build growing businesses. Besides, Ignite also helps connect female entrepreneurs with business networks, formal financial access and digital integration.

With her available agility and the support Hong received through the Ignite Initiative, she actively redirected her business to respond to the epidemic. “When I reduce my direct store business, I spend more time and effort investing in the improvement of the workshop and the landscape garden.”

Appreciating the importance of digital skills, Hong also wants to expand online sales and promotion channels. She shared: “Online marketing will help build brands and promote more widely, the content and stories we share will also be deeper and more accessible to potential customers.”

Understanding the difficulties that are still waiting, up to this point, Hong can still be proud of her small business and her outstanding achievement.

“I was able to fulfill my dream of having my own farm garden which promotes sustainable agriculture and nature’s values and being appreciated by everyone. It was something I aspired to since my school days, and I think I achieved it early on.”

Tran Thi Hong

From her own practical experience, Hong also did not forget to remind women who want to become entrepreneurs like her: “Women face many barriers but also have many advantages. We need to constantly learn and develop ourselves regardless of our circumstances or where we live. Self-energizing is how women overcome social barriers and their fears to achieve success.” Hong shared.

The Ignite Initiative unleashes the power of women entrepreneurs in major urban and peri-urban centers of Vietnam. It increases their access to finance, technology, information, and entrepreneurial networks through collaboration among financial service providers (FSPs), business accelerators, and NGO partners. In Vietnam, CARE co-implements the Initiative’s activities with 3 partners, including Vietnam Prosperity Joint-Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank), Canal Circle Vietnam Technologies Co., Ltd. (Canal Circle), and Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE), with the financial support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.