Empowering young women from ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

The problem: As per Mekong Development Research Institute, although ethnic minorities make up less than 15% of Vietnam’s population, they account for 70% of the extremely poor in the country. Due to societal, cultural, and economic structures prevalent in Vietnam, women are concentrated in lower-level, poorly-paid jobs and are often subjected to gender-based violence. There is a significant gap in access and provisions for skills development and employment for young women from disadvantaged and remote ethnic communities in Vietnam.

Our intervention (2018 – 2021): Our programme with KOTO was called “Her turn” – a specialised 6-month, immersive, residential 24-month vocational training and entrepreneurial skills development programme for rural and ethnic minority women in Vietnam. The programme offered hospitality vocational training (front of house and cookery), crucial life skill development, and English language skills. Having socio-economic empowerment of women as the primary goal, the programme aimed to ensure that:

  • the participants were job-ready and find employment (especially in the retail, hospitality, and tourism industries in Vietnam) and/or
  • create entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves and their communities.


  • The programme trained 137 women from 12 ethnic minorities and included those from poor households, single mothers, migrant workers, and drop-outs
  • It ensured a 100% rate of employment upon graduation even in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 100% of the trainees had income improvement. Most women worked in restaurants, hotels, and resorts across Vietnam
  • 6% of the participants established homestays. Many women went back to their hometowns to open or operate homestays
  • 75% of the employers agreed that KOTO graduates had better performance than non-KOTO ones and the remaining 25% agreed that KOTO graduates had similar capacities to non-KOTO ones.

Highlight: Per KOTO’s Social Impact Report 2021, across a 20-year period between 2001 and 2021, investment in a KOTO trainee yielded an annualised return on investment (ROI) of 22%, illustrating a substantial social ROI for supporting a KOTO trainee.

Read Impact Story here