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10 powerful female entrepreneurs in Vietnam



The women are leaders of famous Vietnamese companies who have helped their firms overcome difficulties and achieve success.

1. Billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao

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According to the latest update from Forbes, with an increase of US$3.1 billion in assets, Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has become the 987th richest person in the world. Among female billionaires, Thao is the 119th richest person.

Thao, 52, is the General Director of VietJet Air and Standing Vice Chair of HDBank. Before returning to Vietnam to set up a business, she had nearly 20 years of doing business abroad. Thao started her business as a distribution agent of electronics, office machines, consumer goods, natural rubber…

Returning to her homeland, she built VietJet Air with the desire to bring Vietnam to the world and pull the world closer to Vietnam. The airline’s first flight took off on December 24, 2011, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Up to now, Vietjet Air holds a large market share in domestic air transport and is strongly developing its international flight network.

Among Vietnamese businessmen, Thao is one of the few who have been honored many times on a global scale.

On March 9, 2017, Forbes magazine announced the list of female billionaires in the world, recognizing Thao as the first female billionaire in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, with an estimated fortune of about $1.7 billion. As of March 7, 2021, Forbes estimated that Thao owned $2.8 billion.

On the Vietnamese stock exchange, Thao is always among the richest people.

In addition, Bloomberg once rated her as one of the 50 typical global leaders.

2. Mai Kieu Lien

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For 45 years with Vinamilk, Ms. Mai Kieu Lien left a strong mark as a talented and inspirational female leader.

Lien was born in 1953 in Paris, France in a family of Vietnamese intellectuals. Her parents are both doctors. In 1957, her family returned to Vietnam.

After graduating from high school in Hanoi, she went to the Soviet Union to study dairy and meat processing in Moscow.

Returning home, Lien was appointed as the Director of the Vietnam Dairy Products Company (Vinamilk) at the age of 31. When she became the leader of the firm in 2003, she successfully brought Vinamilk milk brand closer to domestic consumers and 23 countries.

With her dedication and outstanding business and leadership talents, Lien was voted as one of Asia’s outstanding CEOs in the field of investor relations. She has also been named by Forbes Magazine four times in a row in the list of the top 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia.

3. Nguyen Thi Nga

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For Ms. Nguyen Thi Nga, Chairwoman of BRG Group, “always being proactive before any change” is the key to success.

Nga – Chair of BRG Group and Standing Vice Chair of SeABank – is one of the most influential businesswomen in Vietnam. This “female general” has developed BRG Group from import and export activities to the fields of banking, hotels, golf courses and many other businesses.

Nga has continuously appeared in the list of influential women of Forbes Vietnam. She started her business in the early 1990s. In 1993, she and her husband established BRG Group, a multi-industry investment group and one of the largest private enterprises in Vietnam.

Nga is also well known for her M&A deals, including equitized state-owned enterprises, private enterprises and joint ventures.

Under her leadership, BRG Group has pioneered in many fields such as golf, hotel, real estate. In addition, she invests in a wide range of fields: finance – banking, import and export, retail, tourism and agriculture.

Nga is considered an inspiration to the next generation of female entrepreneurs, that women can confidently build businesses and overcome difficulties to take their businesses to high achievement levels.

In 2006, after divesting from Techcombank, Nga invested in and became the Chair of SeABank.

In early 2019, she left the position of Chair of SeABank to become Standing Vice Chair. In addition to SeABank, she participates in the Board of Directors/Executive Board at a series of businesses in the “ecosystem” of BRG Group.

4. Thai Huong

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Ms. Thai Huong is considered one of the powerful people in the financial sector of Vietnam. For two years, 2015 and 2016, she entered the list of the Top 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia voted by Forbes.

Huong was born in 1958 in Nghe An, and us a former officer of Hai Phong Financial Pricing Department from 1982 to 1985. Then she worked as an accountant at the Nghe An Fuel – Building Materials Company. In 1989, she worked at Huong Ha Building Materials Co., Ltd.

At the end of 2017, after nearly 10 years with TH True Milk, Huong left the position of chairwoman of this group to become the General Director of Bac A Commercial Joint Stock Bank (BacABank). However, she is still a consultant for TH True Milk.

5. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung

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Ms. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung is known as a steel businesswoman in the business of gold, silver, and gems. She was born on October 8, 1957 in Quang Ngai Province. She is currently the Chair of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ). Previously, she was both Chair and CEO of PNJ from 2004 to 2018.

She was a founding shareholder (representative of PNJ) and the first chair of Dong A Bank in 1992-1997 after Dong A Bank was established on July 1, 1992.

In 2017, Dung was the 8th richest woman in Vietnam with a fortune of VND 663 billion. Currently, she is in the Top 100 richest people on the Vietnam stock exchange with a fortune of VND1 trillion.

In 2016, she was in the list of 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia by Forbes Magazine.

Under the leadership of Dung, the PNJ brand has recorded brilliant achievements in both domestic and foreign markets. In the world of gold and silver jewelry, she is known as the “female general of jewelry gold”.

6. Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh is currently the Chairwoman of REE Electromechanical Company. After graduating with a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from Karl-Marx-Stadt University (Germany), in 1982, she joined REE as an engineer, then she became the leader of this company in 1985.

Since then, Thanh has helped REE get out of difficult situations thanks to the brand of Reetech air conditioners. This was the first company listed on the Vietnam stock exchange in 2000.

Forbes Magazine ranked her 28th in the list of 48 most powerful businesswomen in Asia 2014.

7. Truong Thi Le Khanh

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Ms. Truong Thi Le Khanh was born in 1961 in An Giang, known as the “boss” of the seafood industry in Vietnam. She is the founder and chairwoman of Vinh Hoan Joint Stock Company – the largest producer and exporter of pangasius and basa fish in Vietnam.

Khanh studied at the University of Finance and Accounting in Ho Chi Minh City and graduated with a Bachelor of Economics. With excellent academic performance, she was assigned great responsibilities in import-export companies and commercial enterprises.

She established Vinh Hoan Joint Stock Company in late 1997 in Dong Thap Province, with initial capital of VND300 million and 70 employees. At present, Vinh Hoan has 6,000 employees and 6 processing factories.

Khanh was honored by Forbes Vietnam as one of the 50 most influential women in 2019. In September 2020, she was one of two representatives of Vietnam in the list of 25 Asia’s Power Businesswomen.

8. Nguyen Bach Diep

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Ms. Nguyen Bach Diep was born in 1972 and is currently the Chairwoman of FPT Retail.

She graduated from Ho Chi Minh City Open University, majoring in Business Administration. Right after graduating from University, Diep started working at FPT, a leading technology corporation and parent company of FPT Retail since 1997.

Since joining FPT Retail more than eight years ago and becoming its Chair in 2017, Diep has developed FPT Retail from 17 stores into the second largest retail chain in Vietnam with more than 630 stores throughout the country.

In 2019, Diep was honored in the list of 50 most influential women in Vietnam by Forbes Vietnam. In September 2020, she was in the top 25 most powerful businesswomen in Asia.

9. Tran Uyen Phuong

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Ms. Tran Uyen Phuong is the daughter of Mr. Tran Qui Thanh – founder and Chairman of Tan Hiep Phat Group.

Coming from a business family, from a young age, Phuong had to learn to be independent and disciplined in addition to cultivating knowledge.

With nearly 20 years doing business, Deputy General Director of Tan Hiep Phat Group said that her life has been arranged in the direction of always prioritizing work and achieving goals.

10. Pham Thi Viet Nga

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Considered the soul of the prosperity of Hau Giang Pharmaceutical Company, Ms. Pham Thi Viet Nga, born in 1951, is one of the bravest and most successful “female generals” in Vietnam.

With knowledge gained from her degree in pharmacy, and a doctorate in economics, in 1988, she started working with Hau Giang Pharmaceutical Company, turning this business from a small enterprise on the verge of bankruptcy into a leading pharmaceutical company in Vietnam with revenue of nearly VND3 trillion. The name of this pharmaceutical company also expanded abroad thanks to Nga’s strategies.

The secret of this talented businesswoman is to respect talent, and build a team of responsible and effective employees. Nga was also honored by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful businessmen in Asia.

Mai Lan



Masan Group draws down $600 mln from the international lenders

Masan Group has announced the successful full disbursement of its $600 million syndicated loan, an underwritten transaction which was oversubscribed by 37 international lenders.



The Transaction was arranged by BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. The $600 million transaction is the largest ever 5-year offshore syndicated loan in Vietnam’s private corporate sector, Masan said in a statement.

The loan is priced at 2.9% over the U.S Dollar Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or approximately 6.7% per annum, with a margin over the reference rate improving by 35 basis points compared to the $200 million syndicated loan completed in 2020.

This improvement is considerable given that the recent transaction is for a 5-year loan versus a the 3-year tenor of 2020 loan, which was completed during a lower interest rate environment.

While less expensive, the increase in U.S. Dollar borrowing has introduced greater foreign exchange risk. As per internal policy, the Company will actively monitor and assess the right time for entering into hedging transactions to mitigate market risks while maintaining optimal cost of capital.

Since the establishment of The CrownX (TCX) at the end of 2019, Masan’s integrated consumer-retail platform that consolidates WinCommerce and Masan Consumer Holding, the Company has been able to materially improve TCX’ cash flow generation.

The CrownX’s EBITDA in 2022 is expected to grow by 3x versus 2019 (assuming full year consolidation of both WinCommerce and Masan Consumer Holding) with EBITDA margin improving to 13.4% from 5.5% during the same period, mainly driven by the turnaround of the retail business under Masan’s stewardship. WCM’s EBITDA margin is expected to improve by approximately 11% in 2022 compared to 2019.  

Stronger business performance and expansion of retail network profitably have been recognized by other debt providers and international partners.

The recent issuance of VND1,700 billion bonds with tenor 5 years in November 2022, subscribed by well-known multinational investors managing high-AUM bond funds in Vietnam, and

VND2,500 billion in other domestic bonds issued in 2022. The tenor of all of the bonds issued in 2022 are 5 years, longer than the typical 3-year tenor of similar corporate bonds in the market, helping to lengthen the company’s debt schedule.

The Company maintains a sustainable leverage ratio and liquidity position given its ability to attract both international and local investors.

The new debts will not significantly affect the leverage ratio of the company while increasing the liquidity significantly thanks to higher duration and improved operating performance.

Up to November 2022, the company has not only fully repaid all of 2022 debt services of VND6,915 billion but also early repaid VND6,660 billion of debt maturing in 2023.


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Number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam triples in five years



There were nearly 2,500 Japanese restaurants in Vietnam in 2020, more than triple the 770 restaurants in 2015, Matsumoto Nobuyuki, chief representative of the office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Ho Chi Minh City, said last Friday.

At a ceremony to introduce the Food & Hotel Vietnam 2022, an international fair for the food and hospitality sector, the JETRO chief representative reported that among the 2,500 Japanese restaurants in Vietnam, 1,180 were opened in Ho Chi Minh City.

The metropolis is home to the highest number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam.

Bosses of half of these restaurants are Japanese, while the remaining were opened by Vietnamese people or in association with Japanese partners.

Nobuyuki added that the statistics were produced before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the pandemic, the figures may change. However, some restaurants closed but new ones were opened, meeting market demand, he added. 

JETRO’s survey also showed that 90 percent of the customers of Japanese restaurants are Vietnamese although these restaurants initially aimed to serve Japanese people living and working in Vietnam.

The mushrooming of Japanese restaurants is seen not only in Vietnam but also other countries in the region.

Japan’s dishes are highly evaluated for their nutritional balance, tastiness, freshness, and high quality.

“Many people choose Japanese restaurants to not only enjoy dishes but also experience the Japanese culture and lifestyle, which are featured in the architecture and space of the restaurants,” Nobuyuki told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The increase in the number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam has sent the consumption of Japanese food materials surging. The number of suppliers of Japanese food has risen significantly over the past few years.

Jeffrey Au, head of the International Sales Office Asia at Informa Markets, the organizer of the Food & Hotel Vietnam 2022, said the event, slated to take place in Ho Chi Minh City from December 7 to 9, will gather prestigious suppliers and potential customers to expand the food and beverage market in Vietnam and attract Japanese suppliers to the Southeast Asian country.

Some 300 local and foreign enterprises will display their products, including confectionery, tea, coffee, food, beverages, equipment in hospitality, and packaging materials.

Twenty-two international pavilions from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Spain, the U.S., and Canada will be displaying their products.

“Spending on food and beverages currently accounts for the largest proportion of Vietnamese’s monthly expenditures, at 35 percent,” Au said.

“The proportion tends to rise further in the 2022-25 period.

“The growth will open up a thriving future for the food, restaurant, and hotel sector in Vietnam.”

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Competition on Vietnam-India air routes fierce



Not only Vietnamese air carriers but also Indian ones operate direct air routes between the two countries, making the competition among them fierce.

Besides direct air services, airlines offer flights connecting to third countries, thus attracting more customers.

Indian passengers on the rise

The number of Indians coming to Vietnam has increased sharply. As a result, many domestic and international air carriers are competing to attract customers.

Indian tourists coming to Vietnam through Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City are on the rise.

According to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, nearly 82,100 Indian travelers visited Vietnam in the January-October period of this year. The number of Indian visitors surged 51 percent per month on average.

Kieu My, a ground service worker at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, said the number of Indians is increasing as airlines raise the frequency of their flights and the occupancy rate of these flights reaches 75-90 percent.

On the other hand, tours for Vietnamese passengers flying to India are bustling.

There are even charter flights carrying hundreds of Vietnamese passengers to the South Asian country to make a pilgrimage.

Severe competition among airlines

In 2019, Vietnamese air carriers pioneered direct air routes to some tourist destinations in India with a frequency of two to four flights per week. Nowadays, Vietnamese flights have reached most tourist sites in India.

For instance, budget carrier Vietjet opened 14 new air routes to India, carrying tourists from Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Bangalore to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines also operates flights to India but with a lower frequency than Vietjet.

In addition, Indian airlines, such as Indigo and SpiceJet, have entered the race to carry passengers between the two countries.

Airlines also compete in airfares, which hover around VND5-7 million (US$201-281) per ticket.

The competition in airfares, flight frequency, and flying time on Vietnam-India air routes is fierce. Besides airfare cuts, airlines have launched other services to retain customers.

“When operating flights carrying Indian passengers to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, we find that the demand for connecting flights to other countries is high,” said an executive of an airline.

“If we can connect to air routes to third countries, we can meet passengers’ demand.”

Sharing the view, a Vietjet leader said in addition to existing air routes to India, connecting flights to third countries will help attract customers in the coming time.

The air carrier took a survey and found that Indian passengers are interested in visiting Bali in Indonesia, which is home to Hindu temples, and other destinations featuring Indian culture. 

“More than half of Indian passengers coming to Vietnam have a demand to fly to Bali and other destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea.”

Airport ground services need improving

Doan Thi Mai Huong, general director of Southern Airports Services JSC, said to attract Indian tourists, it is a must to meet their demand for catering, entertainment, and relaxation services.

In reality, many Indian restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are thriving thanks to the high number of customers, only that Indian travelers are careful in spending on services. Therefore, offering products at reasonable prices is necessary.

Southern Airports Services JSC has lounges, restaurants, and retail outlets at airports.

It is preparing more Indian dishes to welcome more tourists from the South Asian country.

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