Thai man in Dien Bien harbors aspirations of striking it rich

WVR - Though starting empty-handed, Mr. Lo Van Huong, of Thai ethnicity, from Cho village in Bung Lao commune, Muong Ang district, Dien Bien province, has been driven by the aspiration to strike it rich. As of now, his family business yields an annual average revenue exceeding VND 20 billion, with a net profit of VND 1.8 billion per year.
Thai man in Dien Bien harbors aspirations of striking it rich

Mr. Lo Van Huong in Cho village, Bung Lao commune, Muong Ang district, Dien Bien province, honored with the title National Outstanding Farmer in 2022. (Photo: Hanh Nguyen)

Struggling to establish a business

More than 20 years ago, when Mr. Huong started a family, his parents let him live on his own. Starting a business with nothing, the dowry given to him by his parents and parents-in-law was roughly 1,000 square meters of farmland and a patch of hilly field. He and his wife borrowed money from both families and the help of their cousins to build a wooden house.

Having been married for more than ten years, but the couple's assets are not worth millions. Then, the birth of the first child elicited financial difficulty adding up to the difficult conditions. Thinking that he had good health and had to strike it rich, Mr. Huong decided to borrow money from the Social Policy Bank and invest in livestock and poultry farming.

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“At first, it was just a small ranching, with a few buffaloes, cows, and goats. After a few years the herd of cattle thrived. At times there were up to a few dozen of them. The amount of capital I have accumulated is quite good. But livestock raising is also risky.

The favorable advantages are okay, but when an epidemic disease occurs, everything is lost. There were years when more than half of the cattle herd died from disease, and husband and wife could only cry, because the entire asset was the cattle herd itself" Mr. Huong recalled.

In 2010, when the price of Muong Ang coffee increased, many households invested in growing coffee. Mr. Huong discussed with his wife to sell his cattle for capital to invest in growing coffee. “At first, my wife did not agree, because the price of coffee rises, the crop is abundant, it is okay but when the crop is bad and the price is low, how can we support our children? However, I decided to sell a herd of more than 30 buffaloes and cows for more than VND 1 billion. I invested in 5 hectares of coffee. In the first few years, the coffee crop was good and the price was good, then the price plunged down and no one bought it," Mr. Huong said.

Success comes from grocery business

Ranching and farming both failed, but that could not hinder his desire to strike it rich. Mr. Huong discussed with his wife investing in a trade, selling groceries because the risk was low and also profitable. With the advantage that his family had a land plot located right at Bung Lao commune market, Mr. Huong decided to "play a big game" and invested all the capital he had accumulated for nearly 20 years into the grocery business. Initially it was just a small store, but it sold a full range of necessities such as food, candy, animal feed.

"Initially there was only one store run by two of us, husband and wife. After a few years of running the trade with a good income, I decided to expand my sales locations. Right at Bung Lao market, I have 3 stores," Mr. Huong revealed.

To expand his business, in 2017, Mr. Huong borrowed more than VND 7 billion from the bank to build the largest supermarket in Bung Lao market. It is known that Bung Lao commune is the trade center of commune cluster, people in Muong Lan, Xuan Lao communes or Chong village (Dien Bien Dong district), Muong Bam commune (Thuan Chau, Son La district) all go to Bung Lao to buy goods. Therefore, the commodities must be various and diverse, to meet the needs of the shoppers.

“If we don't build and expand our business, we will lose our customers. I have all the conditions, large land in the center of the market. Only retail sales respond to the people's large demand for buying and selling. When building the supermarket, many people told me I was getting foolish, in this tiny commune how come we get so many buyers. But with the business strategy planned in my mind, I was determined to find my own way," Mr. Huong said.

Not only building a supermarket in Bung Lao, to meet the shopping needs of people in some other communes, Mr. Huong also has retail shops. For remote communes and villages that cannot open stores, Mr. Huong send trucks to transport wholesale goods to local stores and agents.

Thai man in Dien Bien harbors aspirations of striking it rich
Mr. Huong and his staff check the goods at his family's store in Cho village, Bung Lao commune, Muong Ang district, Dien Bien province. (Photo: Hanh Nguyen)

Mr. Huong confided himself: "I have made a big investment so I have to expand the market. The shops and people's purchasing level are still limited. I don't open a shop but instead I use a truck to sell goods to smaller local traders".

After completion of the supermarket construction, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, causing difficulties for businesses. “From the beginning of 2020 to the end of April 2022, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, my business also encountered problems".

“My wife had many sleepless nights, worrying about her bank debt. I had to encourage my wife, I only sold essential goods that would not spoil in a long course of time. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, people still had to live and the commodities sold by us served the people's lives," Mr. Huong said.

With his business strategy realized on the right track, Mr. Huong's entire bank loan for the supermarket construction has now been paid off. He also created jobs for 20 workers with an income of about VND 6-8 million person/month. Moreover, he also applied for bank loans and built houses for some of his employees, so they could feel secure working for him.

To date, Mr. Huong has built 4 houses for 4 employee families. With his system of shops and mobile sales, up to now, the average revenue of Mr. Huong's family business is over VND 20 billion per year, with a profit of about VND 1.8 billion per year. In 2022, Mr. Huong was proud to be honored by the Central Vietnam Farmers' Association as one of the 100 Outstanding Farmers in Vietnam.

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