Last March, after ongoing program evaluation and focus groups with stakeholders in-country, Artistri Sud initiated a special effort to support leadership development among the women we work with in Vietnam. Many generous donors stepped up to contribute to this important effort. As a result, a cohort of strong leaders were in a position to bring even more prosperity and change to their families and communities. Read on to learn about four of them.

Sun Thi Lan: Tourism Entrepreneur and Community Leader!

Sung Thi Lan was a budding leader prior to the 40 Leaders scheme, organizing a small co-opt that produced traditional Hmong items for tourists. After the program, Lan revolutionized her business approach. She incorporated the program’s lessons on colour theory to innovate her products, making them more attractive to tourists. She has also adapted to the hectic economic conditions of the COVID climate by focusing more on online sales using Facebook. Check some of Lan’s products here! As a result of the program, Lan was ready to face the challenges of the pandemic, maintaining her profit at a time where most women have suffered losses due to restrictions on tourism and movement.

The program inspired Lan to organize her own training for around 20 women in her village, teaching them how to use sewing machines thereby efficiently cutting down on production time and costs. Many of the women that work for her have raw talent but lack the technical training to monetize their talent effectively. Lan has actively bridged that gap with our training, applying the program’s and her own knowledge to empower more women in the community.

Lo Thi Chu: Empowered Leader and Starting a New Business

Lo Thi Chu is a fantastic example of an empowered woman who has taken control of her life after Artistri Sud’s training. Chu used to be a tour guide working for a verbally abusive and disrespectful boss. Chu felt too intimidated to quit what was perceived to be a “good job” in a prestigious company.

After the 40 Leaders workshop on women’s rights and empowerment, Chu gained the courage to take control of her life, finally quitting her abusive job. This bold decision has set a powerful example in the community, with other women quitting the same job after her.

Chu now runs her own business and hires employees outside her friends and family. Her business works on unique jewelry designs with a business partner in America. This is only the beginning, more news to come!

Lo Thi Hanh: Innovating New Product Ideas in Traditional Hmong Style!

Lo Thi Hanh is a single mother of two boys and comes from a village in Northern Vietnam, located far from the tourist spots in Sapa. She joined Artistri Sud’s training out of curiosity, looking for ways to expand her business ideas.  After attending the program, Hahn realized the potential of her village as a homestay for groups traveling to Sapa. She then organized and led an informal group of women to produce decorations and traditional Hmong dying embroidery, incorporating the program’s lessons on textile innovation to modernize her products. For the first time for many women in the group, they were making money out of their skills that had been passed down from generation to generation. Hahn has now opened a cafe, offering different tourist packages that encompass a variety of cultural activities. Customers have the option to participate in an indigo Hmong dye workshop or pick fresh vegetables in Northern Vietnamese fields. Her hard work has brought her success, and this success has emboldened her to look into expanding into different projects. We will keep you updated on her next steps!

Phan Ta May: Taking Control of her own Life

Phan Ta May’s success has already been charted in this blog post, but we will look a little more into her backstory and how the 40 Leaders for 40 Leaders training changed her approach. Before Artistri Sud, May’s life was dominated by her father-in-law, who controlled every aspect of her life. May remarks that “before I was scared of what he would say to me. He would say I had to stay in the house all the time. Now, I don’t care, I do what I want.” The program’s workshops on empowerment and women’s rights gave her the courage to stand up to him, and assert herself in the household. She has become a leader in her community, empowering other women with her example and success. May has now taken charge of selling goods at the Hanoi fair, organizing other women to entrust her with their products to be taken to Hanoi. Before she would only go to the fair with her mother, now she goes alone and is responsible for selling and collecting money for many women. 

Not only has May obtained business success, the program raised her consciousness around women’s rights. She took the initiative to hold her very own workshop on the topic in Spring 2020, spreading the empowerment message to more than 30 other women in her community.  

You make our work possible, and we thank you for everything you contribute to Artistri Sud. Because of your support, women artisans are still earning sustainable income from their businesses during the pandemic, enabling them to support themselves and their families in this unprecedented crisis. With your generosity, we will continue to provide business education to many talented women entrepreneurs in the years ahead! 

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