Where Entrepreneurs from Little Rock to Vietnam Meet: The Venture Center
By Mimi San Pedro
Chief Strategy Officer, The Venture Center
At The Venture Center, we’re often thrilled by the number of program applicants we get from across the globe. It’s exciting to know that the work we are doing makes an impact from Little Rock to Australia, Israel, and beyond. But, we haven’t had a chance to take our mission beyond Little Rock and to other areas of the world that could also benefit from our experiences. That changed when we learned that our friend Xuan Do, a YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) Outbound Fellow from Vietnam, had a project selected for funding. Xuan Do’s project is building a business incubator in her hometown, and includes The Venture Center as an on-site mentor. In November, I’ll be making the trip overseas to represent The Venture Center and Arkansas. The opportunity is particularly exciting when considering the efforts of our Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has made technology and entrepreneurship a cornerstone of his administration. We’re taking Governor Hutchinson and The Venture Center’s efforts to Vietnam to showcase Arkansas’ many opportunities.
Xuan Do, our YSEALI Outbound Fellow, visited Little Rock last year when she was part of a program held by the US Department of State that also partners with the Global Ties of Arkansas Program. Now a YSEALI PFP Fellow, she fosters opportunities for educational exchanges between U.S. and Southeast Asian leaders to help foster innovation and economic growth.
Xuan Do now has the opportunity to host The Venture Center as we play an integral role in her project. She earned her Master’s Degree in International Trade and Finance, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Banking. She’s currently a lecturer at Tay Nguyen University, where she teaches courses on economics, conducts research, and prepares the curriculum for a new Economic Development major. Additionally, she is establishing a business incubator in her province, which will be open to both students and members of the community. She wants to learn about the operation and development of university-affiliated incubator programs and to explore the ways universities can support a spirit of entrepreneurship among their students.
She embodies the drive and entrepreneurial spirit that’s inspirational to The Venture Center and so many others, and we are thrilled to serve as mentors for her students.
While in Vietnam, and as a representative of The Venture Center, I will hold marketing training for the youth and early-stage entrepreneurs and train lecturers in Tay Nguyen University. I will teach all of them about The Venture Center programs supporting innovative ideas and early-stage entrepreneurs in hopes that they can replicate the effort locally.
This trip to Vietnam won’t be my first. Last year I made the trek for vacation and was awestruck by the people and the culture. As a whole, the culture fosters entrepreneurship, and the people don’t let anything hold them back from their entrepreneurial journeys. Entrepreneurs are supported and encouraged. I’m excited about meeting local entrepreneurs and talking with students about marketing and sharing information about some of our programs so they can do something similar in Vietnam.
Here at home, The Venture Center pulls communities together to strengthen economic opportunities, and one way we do that is through mentorship. Mentorship fully encompasses The Venture Center’s three pillars: education, collaboration, and acceleration. We foster mentors and mentorship in every activity at The Venture Center, and for us to be able to bring this effort to Vietnam represents a significant advancement of our mission. While the push for economic development and sustainability starts at home, the upcoming trip to Vietnam shows that we can make a substantial change anywhere in the world. And for every person who can build a sustainable business or impact their local economy, we all benefit.