Today we visited VinaCapital, and investment firm that is based in Ho Chi Minh city. This sentence in itself seems odd, as an investment firm and a communist country are usually at odds with one another. An investment firm does not actually produce anything physical or provide a physical service, instead its duty is to maximize monetary return for and only for its investors. A traditional communist government focuses on equality and production, both of which VinaCapital does not promote. This only exists because of the reforms that the Vietnamese government performed a few decades ago, only ten years into the more traditional planned economy of a communist regime. After this failed, they switched to a socialist economy, a system in which a firm such as VinaCapital can operate in.
While VinaCapital’s main duty lies with its investors, the company does actually provide a useful service to Vietnam as a whole. One way it does this is because the company makes large investments in the country itself, mostly through infrastructure and real-estate. While these two things to return yield for the investors (although more slowly than other sectors), it also helps develop Vietnam. It also helps Vietnam through its outreach work that it does with the general public, as well as the government. In an effort to attract local investors, the fund holds events in a effort to educate them on savings. In a country that primarily still operates on cash, and the average wage is roughly 125 USD a month, it is a struggle to convince people to give some of this money to an investment firm, especially as they cannot guarantee with absolute certainty that the money is going to come back.
Meanwhile, it is working with the government in an effort to loosen some investment laws. Progress has already been made, as the firm is able to trade daily for private shareholders with relative freedom. Their next goal is to make a push to allow more foreign investment in the country, bringing even more money into the country. It is also attempting to get the government to invest its massive involuntary pension fund, which as of right now is not being used in an efficient manner.
In another effort to help Vietnam, the VinaCapital Foundation works to more directly aid those that are beginning to be left behind in the massive development of the country. They use their investment savvy in order to fund companies not on the basis of maximizing monetary return, but instead on societal return. This fund operates essentially independently of VinaCapital, which is done in order to provide clarity in the two different organizations’ goals.
While the presentation was filled with endless jargon (only half of which I completely understood), it was fascinating nonetheless. The complexity of what they do amazes me, and the fact that they invest in countless different sectors is intriguing. I feel this might be something to look into for my personal career path, as the progression fits fairly well if I go along my planned first few years out of college. This plan is to work as a consultant as well as get my MBA. The job will give me a wide breath of experience, and the degree may give me the credentials to get started at a firm such as VinaCapital. All in all, this trip is doing exactly what it should be doing so far, opening my eyes to new experiences and the possibilities of my future.