Scaling up social enterprise in Vietnam and creating an ecosystem for 1,200 KOTO Alumni to be empowered

Investing in 1200 KOTO alumnus and empower them to take leaderships to create futures employments for others.

Photo of Jimmy
0 0

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Jimmy Pham Viet Tuan - Founder of KOTO

Initiative's representative date of birth

24th January 1972

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Vietnam

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

KOTO Website: KOTO Facebook:

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways) 

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $100k - $250k

Organisation Type

  • Hybrid

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

In 1996, I came back to Vietnam to do market research for Intrepid Travel. After my assignment, I went on what I call it to be the ‘the walk that changed my entire life’. With my broken Viet, I spoke to some street kids and took them out for dinner. While we were sitting on the street with other kids having dinner, there was an 8 year old girl who was chased by her own mother with a metal stick. She was begging her mother “Mum, I will try harder tomorrow!” Earlier, I recalled she had aggressively tapped me on my jacket and asked ‘give me money’ each time she saw me. I soon learnt that she never made it to adult life. I came back to Australia and decided to return to Vietnam and do something to help the many street kids.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

1,200 street & disadvantaged youth who KOTO has helped are now professionals in the hospitality industry. Many of them have the potential to be future leaders. They need more skills such as leadership, financial literacy and capability, HR management, startup, innovation, to take their professional career to the next level. In order to enhance these skills & efficiently network, there needs to be professional development opportunities for them.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My solution is to officially establish the KOTO Alumni Community, with board members who are successful alumni to lead the organisation. My vision is to empower current and future alumni so they can take leadership and ownership of their professional career and life. We want to encourage young dynamic KOTO Alumni professionals to create and prosper within the KOTO community through a variety of professional development workshops that will expand their horizons. Workshops on active citizens with British Council Short term overseas work experiences 4 scholarships at TAFE in Australia 1 scholarships at University 5 language training courses Assistance sourcing funding for start-ups Education surrounding grant funding or conferences Further English lessons to improve communication They will continue to learn to develop and support one another; with the goal that they will eventually become future industry leaders, social entrepreneurs, employers. This develops an ecosystem for KOTO alumni as well as become a role model for trainees.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

KOTO will no longer be a two-year program but a life-time institution that provides support and guidance for those who want to continue their professional development. Since 2009, I’ve invested more in Alumni. The first two alumni who studied at Box Hill Institute are now successful restaurant owners and the KOTO General Manager. Focusing on worldly experiences, Alumni are encouraged to go to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Singapore, France, Germany to work and study. Our unique approach is to continue to broaden their mind with education. Being lifted out of poverty is one thing, but continuing education is the key to prosperity. Cultivating that network is essential.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

KOTO alumni have a Cert III in hospitality. Although it is an international accredited program, it takes a lot of high level skills to become a leader. In order for them to take their career to the next level & survive in the competitive workforce, they need to grow their skills and never stop learning. We will teach them leadership skills, increased EQ level, apply design & critical thinking to develop their strategy. We will also develop them to live & work mindfully, sustainably and apply meditation to their daily life. Improving Business English is an essential factor and this will be a large focus. In doing so, alumni will develop the necessary skills for them to be well-prepared when opportunities arise. We will ensure that the birth lottery will not affect their chances at succeeding in this life.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

With tech growing fast, the disadvantage of this is that it will automate many jobs. We will teach our alumni to have the ability to learn and equip new skills utilising apps, & vocational training to develop relevant soft skills. We measure this through how many alumni are moving up to management levels, new businesses they are going to open, studying overseas, the increase in their income and their participation in our community & training. Many trainees are influenced by alumni & the lives of their families are changed. Their impacts transcends family, community and current KOTO trainees.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many universities that engage with their alumni but usually for the purpose of researching and seeking donations to the universities. Usually students pay to study, they may move on quickly after graduating. Our alumni however, has a strong connection with KOTO, they live and breathe the philosophy of Know One Teach One, they know each other and they often come home. By investing more training in them and providing them more opportunities. They will be empowered and profoundly transform, in the long run, they will scale their skills to create impactful changes in their community.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

There have been 1,200 graduates so far from KOTO. It was a human capital investment, not for just that one person went through KOTO, but their family and community. Each year we have 100 young dynamic hospitality professional graduates from KOTO & they join the KOTO alumni community. I don't just give them a simple induction program, but a family that they can rely on or come back to visit anytime. There are 50 alumni who live and study overseas, 5 alumni have become Australian Citizens, 40 alumni own their businesses, a female alumni founded her own social enterprise to help women in domestic violence situation, 2 alumni from KOTO have gotten their MBA/Master Degree from Australian Universities, plus a further 20 who have received their degree in Australia. Imagine if all of our alumni were empowered and invested. They will go far and create a huge impact in the community.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

In the short term, we will initiate our membership and engage 1,200 alumni to register with benefits in return for them to be actively involved. In the medium term, we will also fundraise through hosting events for alumni and their family, selling alumni merchandise and other items. The long term is to seek investment for our alumni to start up, of each business that is inspired by KOTO, we will provide branding and business development consultancy and our alumni business owner share 3-5% of their profits that reinvested back in growing the KOTO Alumni Community. We will also apply for funding like this prestigious award so that we can have more financial capability to invest more in our alumni and increase their professional development.

10. Team

Except Alumni Development Executive is a full time paid staff - all of our members donate their time and do not get pay. 1. Jimmy Pham - Chairman (Part time) - MBA 2. Huong Dang - CEO (Part-time) - Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation 3. Van Anh Nguyen - Alumni Development Executive (Full time) 4. Nga Le, Phuong Richie, Hieu Nguyen, and Hanh Hoang are Board Members overseeing businesses development, communication, training developments, events, sponsorships and marketing activities.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Status as a migrant

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

1 evaluation so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 100%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 0%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

Other option - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 100%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 0%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation: