“Investors have a real interest in these inclusive Vietnamese deals”

Bertil van Vugt
By on September 29, 2015

Fifteen Vietnamese inclusive business ventures pitched their plans last Friday to a group of local and international investors. The first edition of the Inclusive Business Matchmaking Marketplace took place in Ho Chi Minh City, the business metropolis of Vietnam, and was organized by the Vietnam Business Challenge Fund (VBCF), SNV and the Inclusive Business Accelerator.

The event attracted around 200 people who listened to the presentations on the stage. The entrepreneurs were placed in two groups and they got 5 minutes each to pitch their business case. After each group there was a matchmaking session where the investors could join the enterprises on different tables to speak for 8 minutes during a one-on-one conversation.

Difficult questions
The investors, among them Unitus Impact, Oxfam’s Inclusive Impact Investments, UN Capital Development Fund, Dragon Capital and UBERIS Capital, showed much interest in the companies during the one-on-one conversations. Difficult questions were asked by the investors, entrepreneurs explained their models and follow-up meetings were planned.

Smart Edu Now explains to investors during the one-on-one matchmaking sessions.

Smart Edu Now team member explains to investors during the one-on-one matchmaking sessions.

Investor Shuyin Tang of Unitus Impact said: “It was encouraging to see such a strong turnout of entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders at the Inclusive Business Marketplace. Just a few years ago the concept of inclusive business was almost unheard of in Vietnam, so it’s testament to how far the market has come. As a venture capital firm investing in companies which improve the livelihoods of the working poor, the agricultural sector is a natural choice for us to look for opportunities: almost half of Vietnam’s population is still employed in agriculture and 90% of the poor live in rural areas.”

Shuyin continues: “I was pleased to see a large number of companies developing value-added, premium products such as stevia and avocado oil, and providing vertically integrated solutions in which a significant portion of the margin could be passed all the way back up to the farmer.”

Investors listing to a pitch

Investors are listening to one of the pitches on the stage.

Discover companies
Rémi Van Ooteghem of UBERIS Capital added: “The event was really interesting by the quality and quantity. I mean we were able to meet a lot of companies and their presentation was in general good. Sometimes it was difficult for them to respect the 5 minutes deadline, but the private Q&A sessions afterwards were really efficient. Another point, the online platform and all the documents already available on it about the companies are really helpful. To conclude, the matchmaking event was a good way for me to discover interesting companies.”

Best pitch
The entrepreneur with the best pitch received 25.000 USD worth of technical assistance via the IB Accelerator in Vietnam. It was a close call between BioSpring and Hamona, but the jury of investors rated coconut company Hamona a bit higher and therefore founder Larry Nguyen walked away with the cheque.

Scaling up
Larry Nguyen: “The event was fantastic, so well-organized and productive. I’m grateful that I had the chance to pitch and meet face to face with potential investors. I am so happy that I got the prize. My business is in the scaling up phase, so we need market expansion and more funding. Hopefully the technical assistance will help to fulfil these needs.”

Larry Nguyen of Hamona drinks a coconut on stage during his winning pitch.

Larry Nguyen of Hamona drinks his coconut juice on stage during his winning pitch.

Supporting inclusive business development
Earlier that morning Cas van der Horst, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Hanoi, opened the event by saying that the government of the Netherlands is supporting inclusive business development and that he is therefore ‘excited to be part of the IB Accelerator initiative’. The IB Accelerator is building a structure that supports the delivery of substantial numbers of investment-ready inclusive business plans that improve the well-being of people at the BoP.

Guests are arriving at the venue, on the far right Javier Ayala of SNV and on the left of him Cas van der Horst of the Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam.

Guests are arriving at the venue, on the far right Javier Ayala of SNV and next to him Cas van der Horst of the Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam.

Organizer Javier Ayala of SNV looks back the event: “It has been great to see all the interest and energy generated around the innovative inclusive business ideas and their products pitched during the 1st edition of the IB Matchmaking Marketplace. It’s particularly interesting to see that commercial and impact investors have a real interest in these deals. Several potential investors and business partners have initiated discussions with the inclusive entrepreneurs that we want to see crystallised into concrete paths for business growth for sustainability and scale.”
View more photos of the IB Matchmaking Marketplace on our Facebook page.
Visit the page of the Inclusive Business Matchmaking Marketplace and meet the companies who pitched during the event. If you are and investor and want to access the fundraising information of the companies that presented last week, please register your investor account here

The Mimonsa team speaks to an investor during the matchmaking session.

The Mimosa team speaks to an investor during the matchmaking session.