Today, we visited VinaCapital and went to the Ben Thanh market to practice our bargaining skills. There were two fundamental components to our VinaCapital visit, the foundation and the company itself. The major distinction between the two is that the foundation is a non-profit organization while the company is an investment firm. The main goal of the foundation is growing the middle class for reasons that will be discussed later. They have a couple of programs that all deal with helping the ethnic minority children of Vietnam. One of their programs, HeartBeat, helps to provide families with children who possess heart defects, access to surgery to save their children’s lives. Another program, A Brighter Path, is a seven year scholarship to help minority women to gain an education. These are just two of VinaCapitals programs and as seen above they are all promoting the growth of the Vietnamese middle class. The foundation and the company are linked and one of the nice things is that the company pays the entire overhead cost of running the foundation. This means that investors money goes entirely to the projects that they donated to. This can not be said of any of the other NGOs that operate in this area which gives the foundation a selling point over other NGOs.
Earlier, I mentioned that the goal of the foundation is to grow the middle class. While they do want to save lives, the big picture goal is to develop the middle class. The middle class is the main driving force behind the economy. They consume and produce a lot of stuff. An oversimplification, but an apt description. Thus, as the company is an investment firm, they experience increased profits when the economy is booming. Thus from the business side, it makes complete sense that they are working on developing Vietnam. VinaCapital is thus a driving force in the development and globalization of Vietnam. They are working on improving the education, and healthcare infrastructures of Vietnam. All of which are staples of a developed country. These projects are leading to new jobs which means more Vietnamese people are employed. The efforts of VinaCapital to develop Vietnam are extremely similar to the previous companies we visited such as Phu My Hung, Glass Egg, and II-VI. All of these companies benefit from the rise of the middle class, and thus, are doing there best to develop this middle class. If nothing else, it provides some name recognition with the Vietnamese government and people which is extremely beneficial in any society.
Next, we visited the Ben Thanh market. This market is an indoor market where you can find almost anything. While here, my friends and I practiced the art of the deal. All of the prices that the sellers gave us were extremely high. Thus, one had to haggle down to an agreeable price. The most effective way that I found was pretending to walk away and then usually the vendor would agree to the price that you were willing to pay. It was an interesting experience and was very cool to be able to haggle as this type of market doesn’t really exist in the US.