KOICA Supports Social Entrepreneurs with Disabilities in Vietnam
- Opening a new path for social integration of disabled people through the support of social entrepreneurs with disabilities in Vietnam
Lee Mi Kyung, president of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) visited ‘Imagtor’, the Vietnamese social enterprise in Hanoi on March 23. She witnessed the achievement of ODA projects that contribute to inequalities reduction and job creation.
Imagtor is a Vietnamese social enterprise providing photo and image editing services. Nguyen Thi Van, the company founder was born with a congenital muscular disorder in a low-income family in Vietnam. Following establishment of nonprofit foundation to support disabled people in Vietnam in 2003, she founded the current company in 2016 for the economic independence of the disabled. However the company went through financial difficulties.
As of the end of 2016, the company had 10 employees, with average monthly revenue of only $ 1,105, and equipped with only six used computers and there were no proper facilities for the disabilities before receiving KOICA’s support. In early 2017, the company began receiving $ 35,000 in support from KOICA's "Disability Information Dispute Resolution Program in Vietnam." As a result, the number of employees increased to 52 including 26 people with disabilities, and the average monthly sales amounted to $ 21,629. The company also has 40 new and used computers and accessible facilities for disabled people.
In addition, the company has a rapid growth rate of 36% per month, and has recently expanded its business to the US, Japan, and Europe. It is also ahead of a contract with Pro-Plan, which accounts for 20% of the Danish image and image editing market.
It has become a stable social enterprise in the field of disability. In 2017, it won three awards (Digital, Education, Enterprise) in seven areas at "Singapore NUS-DPO Social Enterprise Discovery Contest" and four awards of UN sustainability awards.
Lee visited the company and witnessed how new ODA business model is changing the lives and dreams of disabled youth in developing countries. She encouraged the representative Van and staff who are leading these changes, as well as officials from the Korean Association for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, KOICA's cooperative partner.
Van said, "The attributes of IT beyond time and space limitations provide optimal conditions to transcend the mobile physical limitations of people with disabilities. I am glad that we are providing the disabled with an excellent job equal to that of the disabled." and expressed her gratitude for the support of KOICA.
Lee replied, "In the Pyeongchang Paralympics, I was able to identify the passion and willingness of people with disabilities to overcome various limitations, and Imagtor's employees are also excellent people who overcome limitations of disability on a daily basis through business. KOICA will continue to support this kind of business and lead the Korean people's vision to spread the right values in the international community.
Imagtor will become a partner to outsource the growing order volume to the "E-Employment Support Center for the Disabled (tbd)" jointly established by the KOICA-Korean Disabled Rehabilitation Association this year, thereby creating a virtuous cycle structure of creating social value .
KOICA is carrying out a project to promote global social enterprises. In 2017, a total of $ 45,000 seed money was donated to three Vietnamese social enterprises including ‘Imagtor’, ‘1516 Green Interior’ (renewable energy) and ‘Healthy Farm’ (food materials distribution).
KOICA will continue to support the diversity and characteristics of disabled people so that disabled people can participate in society and develop their capacities as equal members of society.
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