Vietnamese students awarded social enterprise prize in New Zealand

Vietnamese students have won a prize in a business idea contest in New Zealand with their project to sell handicrafts made by Vietnamese people with disabilities from Vietnam’s Hanoi and Hue Cities.

Led by University of Otago entrepreneurship master's student Nguyen Cam Van, the HandiConnect social business was named the winner of the Audacious-Business Idea competition's Doing Good category on Sunday (New Zealand time).

Led by University of Otago entrepreneurship master's student Nguyen Cam Van, the HandiConnect social business was named the winner of the Audacious-Business Idea competition's Doing Good category on Sunday (New Zealand time).

One of four main categories, this category is dedicated to social enterprises, offering NZ$5,000 cash and three months of retail strategy consultation from a local manager.

Competitors submitted 137 entries to the competition from many schools in the Otago Region, located on the South Island. HandiConnect was the only submission from students who hail from a non-English speaking country.

Van said Doing Good was a very competitive category, as 75 percent of the entries were community service projects.

HandiConnect aims to provide support to handicapped people so that they “can live a happier life with stable income, self-confidence, sharing and connection to the world.”

Every weekend Van and her friends sell the handmade products at New Zealand markets or fairs organized by her school. All of the revenue is donated to centers for people with disabilities.

They presented 130 grants to physically impaired students at one such center in central Vietnam’s Thu Thien-Hue Province last month.

“My friends and I felt great when we won this category,” Van told Tuoi Tre. “We will work closely with our strategy consultants on an effective social business model in order to make the best use of the prize.”

Audacious-Business Idea is a student business coaching service that encourages college students to develop their business ideas and is supported by the University of Otago Business School, the Dunedin City Council, and Otago Polytechnic.

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