Four entrepreneurs among Forbes Vietnam’s most inspirational women

By Vien Thong   April 27, 2021 | 05:30 am PT
Forbes Vietnam's list of the 20 most inspirational women includes four entrepreneurs, Tran Thi Le, To Thuy Diem Quyen, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, and Van Dinh Hong Vu.
From left to right: co-founder and CEO of ELSA Van Dinh Hong Vu, chairwoman and CEO of NutiFood Tran Thi Le, founder and CEO of InnEdu To Thuy Diem Quyen, Vietjet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Photo designed by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen.

From left to right: co-founder and CEO of ELSA Van Dinh Hong Vu, chairwoman and CEO of NutiFood Tran Thi Le, founder and CEO of InnEdu To Thuy Diem Quyen, Vietjet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Photo designed by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen.

Le, 48, is the vice chairwoman and CEO of dairy company NutiFood Nutrition Food JSC. She was formerly a doctor and nutritionist at the HCMC Nutrition Center.

Founded in 2000 by experts from the center, NutiFood is now one of the largest dairy producers in the country, making products for a range of age groups, pathologies and special needs.

It has six plants in Vietnam, a dairy farm in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, a coffee farm in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, and a factory in Sweden, and a total of 5,300 employees.

At the 2020 Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA), Le won the Corporate Excellence Award, Inspirational Brand Award and the Master Entrepreneur Award.

She was also included in Forbes list of 25 most powerful businesswomen in Asia in 2019.

To Thuy Diem Quyen, 54, is an educationist and the founder and CEO of InnEdu Education Development and Consulting Company, which specializes in teacher training and providing STEAM educational programs for Vietnamese schools.

The acronym refers to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics as access points for guiding students’ inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking.

Once an autistic child with dyslexia, Quyen has now become an inspirational woman with an innovative approach to teaching, bringing happiness into learning for children, according to Forbes Vietnam.

She was formerly a teacher and Vietnam’s sole representative at the World Education Forum in Spain in 2014.

She became the first Vietnamese to be certified as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert in 2013.

She founded InnEdu in 2012 to provide training to teachers in teaching methodology. It had trained over 60,000 teachers from around the country by the end of 2020.

InnEdu started providing STEAM educational programs and supplies to schools in 2017.

Last year it introduced the Bright Ideas Challenge project, a STEAM educational program, at a number of schools in HCMC.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, 51, is the chairwoman of conglomerate Sovico Group, one of the founders and CEO of budget airlines Vietjet and vice chairwoman of HDBank.

She is Vietnam's first self-made woman billionaire, according to Forbes Vietnam. She has a Ph.D in economic cybernetics from Russia’s Mendeleev Institute.

France conferred its highest award, the Legion of Honor, on her for her contributions to promoting ties between Vietnam and France.

She was named in Asia's Most Influential List by British magazine Tatler in 2020 and in Business Insider’s list of 100 persons who changed the Asian economy in 2020.

In 2019 she was named among the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes.

Van Dinh Hong Vu, 38, is the co-founder and CEO of ELSA, an AI-powered language platform designed to help non-native English learners improve their speech and pronunciation.

Vu has an MBA and a master of education degree from Stanford University in the U.S.

She was an assistant general manager at container shipping company Maersk in Denmark and senior project manager at management consultancy Booz and Company.

In 2015 she launched ELSA.

The startup raised $7 million in a series A round from U.S. investors including Google’s AI fund, Gradient Ventures, in 2019.

It wrapped up a $15-million investment in a series B round from private equity firm Vietnam Investment Group and U.S. technology firm Susquehanna International Group last year.

ELSA currently has over 13 million users worldwide.

The startup aims to expand to the Latin American market and develop its business-to-business service by providing enterprises with English courses for their non-English speaking employees.

In 2017 it was listed by Forbes as one of the top four AI-powered companies in Asia that use artificial intelligence to change the world.

The 20 most inspirational women list seeks to honor women who are "energetic and manage to overcome the obstacles hindering women’s advancement."

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