Stories of women-owned enterprises: Tòhe (Vietnam)
This Story of Women-Owned Enterprises showcases Tòhe: a woman-owned social enterprise in Vietnam. The case study tells the story of the business and explores the success and challenges its owner Ngân has faced throughout her entrepreneurial journey.
Tòhe is a social enterprise in Vietnam with a vision of bringing a playful world to disadvantaged children through creative learning playgrounds. The business aims to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with opportunities to experience and enjoy art, and ultimately to discover their creative potential. The social enterprise has three interrelated operating activities:
- Tòhe Play: art programs designed to encourage children to explore their creative talent and aid intellectual development and emotional expression through painting.
- Tòhe Style: lifestyle products printed with the children’s artworks sold to domestic and international consumers.
- Tòhe Bank: special collections of the children’s artwork sold online and at exhibitions.
Its CEO and co-founder, Ngân Pham, founded Tòhe in 2012 after working for ten years as a director in a media enterprise she previously co-founded, servicing clients like the British Council, the World Bank and Coca-Cola. In 2016 at the age of 39, Ngân was the only Vietnamese in the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGL) recognised by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Tòhe has been a challenging start-up journey, operating at a loss in the early years and later struggling to break-even, while remaining committed to its identity as a social enterprise servicing the community. The business has received a number of different grants as well as seed funding from a Swiss impact investor, however demonstrating long-term profitability and ability to scale the business in order to secure further funding has proved difficult. After 11 years in operation, the business continues to face challenges of funding, profitability and growth.
Though the company grapples with issues in product development, operational efficiency, and marketing, Tòhe also continues to make a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of Vietnamese children and their families.
- The enterprise
- The spirit of Tòhe
- The woman behind the business
- The business journey
- The role of external financing
- Moving forward