An innovation fair dedicated to young Vietnamese entrepreneurs has recently concluded in Ho Chi Minh City.
The fair, organized by the U.S. Consulate General, took place from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm on Tuesday at the American Center in District 1.
Besides showing a number of innovative products by local start-ups, universities, and entrepreneurs, the public event also featured a panel discussion on entrepreneurship facilitated by a representative from Microsoft Vietnam.
Two projects which commanded much attention from participants included jobforblind.com, a website that aims to help visually impaired people to seek jobs, and Handikit, a company specializing in using technology to support disabled people.
Jobforblind.com has been run by a team of youngsters from Thien An Shelter, a charitable home for visually impaired children based in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, with support from UNICEF’s UpShift program.
All disabled members who took part in UpShift were invited to join a 3-day special training workshop which provided them with basic methods of design thinking, lean startups, and finance.
Starting from this year, local entrepreneurs will have the chance to get more investment thanks to a new fund established by 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley.
The fund, worth US$10 million, is expected to make from 100 to 150 investments into the Vietnamese start-up community and allow start-ups to expand their business scale.
Checks will typically be up to $100,000 but may be as high as $250,000.
Entrepreneurs will also get access to 500 Startups’ international network of 3,000 founders and mentors from over 50 countries around the world as well as $1.5 million of credits with partners like Amazon and Facebook.
The innovation fair was part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Innovation Roadshow, led by David H. Thorne, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State.
Thorne is accompanied by a diverse delegation of U.S. multinational companies, financial investors, and successful early stage U.S. companies.
From March 2 to 11, the roadshow will stop in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
At each stop, the delegation will meet with government officials, business leaders, venture capitalists, students, and start-ups to discuss the challenges and importance of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.
U.S. Consul General Rena Bitter (L) talks to a young member of KreLab, the winner of 2015 Microsoft Imagine Cup, a student technology competition, during the innovation fair in Ho Chi Minh City on March 8, 2016. Photo: Binh Minh/Tuoi Tre News