Sophie Hartman

Sophie Hartman

Extract from SustainableVN

At the age of 11, Duong had to leave his family to make a living by shining shoes and selling newspapers. By chance, he was introduced to Hoa Sua School of the Disadvantaged Youth and received a scholarship for a culinary training program. After graduating, Duong worked at various restaurants across the country. The experience gained allowed him to build an international career and become the leader of the European kitchen at Maxx Royal Hotel, a five-star luxury resort in Turkey.

Duong’s journey demonstrates that the tourism and hospitality industry can provide tremendous leverage for vulnerable people’s economic and social inclusion, if they are provided with skills and sustainable employment opportunities. […]

Before studying at La Boulangerie Française in Hue, Kha was a bricklayer. When he joined the school, he was an extremely shy young man hoping to find a promising job after graduation. […]

In Kha’s case, the program of La Boulangerie Française helped him gain confidence and improve his communication skills. He now works at the InterContinental Hotel in Da Nang and was elected best employee of 2017 for his outstanding performance, his wonderful enthusiasm and his willingness to learn, grow and perform professionally.

Kim Thu followed her passion for food by enrolling in An Rê Mai Sen to become a Restaurant Specialist. She completed an apprenticeship at Le Méridien Saigon, a five-star hotel, where she was offered a position before she even graduated. She started her career as a waitress and hostess at Bamboo Chic, the hotel’s Japanese-Cantonese fusion restaurant. Thanks to this position, she is now autonomous and able to help her family.

Ever since he was a child, Binh knew he wanted to become a chef and cook pho. Unfortunately, when his parents divorced, he dropped out of school and lived on odd jobs. After two years, he decided to get his life back on track and joined KOTO. He obtained his culinary certificate with honors in 2010. He currently works as an executive sous-chef at Novotel Suites Hanoi and has fulfilled his dream by opening a small pho shop with his mother.


Across Southeast Asia, in addition to filling a gap in the market, social enterprises for training are helping narrow inequality and create opportunities for disadvantaged populations.

Institut européen de coopération et de développement (IECD) has been working in the region for more than ten years. Experience gained by IECD while supporting different vocational training centers inspired the creation of the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering (ASSET-H&C).

This association, of which An Rê Mai Sen, Hoa Sua School for Disadvantaged Youth, KOTO and La Boulangerie Française are members, consists in a regional network of support for 14 social businesses that promote the personal and professional development of vulnerable young people in the tourism and hospitality sector.

To help these training centers increase their impact, ASSET-H&C assists its members by facilitating exchanges between schools, providing expertise, and promoting these establishments and their common vision of training and tourism. Over the past four years, the network has, for instance, allowed 12 teacher or student exchanges between schools. 48 representatives of schools’ management teams have also participated in at least one ASSET-H&C annual seminar aimed at sharing and exchanging on best practices.

The approach taken by ASSET-H&C members creates a win-win situation. Students receive training and find work, consumers get access to quality services and products, and the influx of income benefits the surrounding community.

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