Creative Session #16 invites the resilient entrepreneur Hương Đặng to share how she nurtured her love of learning through the social/business networks of cooking and hospitality. Founder & CEO of ‘Hopebox Social Enterprise’ and ‘Director of Partnerships & Strategy, KOTO Social Enterprise’, Hương will share her joy and struggle, from the hardships of poverty in Northern Vietnam’s rice paddies, to her youth spent struggling on the streets of Hanoi – her unfailing desire for education is what nurtured her will to survive, despite her meagre circumstances. In 2016, Hương was recognized by BBC One Worldwide in its ‘50 inspirational people’; going on to earn title as ‘Young Leader’ in the Australia-Vietnam Young Leaders Dialogue in 2017 (amongst other accolades).
Join us. Hear the details of a journey that will inspire minds and hearts to give attention to passion and how it can spur life challenges of great reward.
More on Hương Đặng:
Hương’s meager but love-filled life began in 1986 amongst the rice paddies in Northern Vietnam. Her father’s unexpected passing when she was young placed a large burden on her and her family. At the age of thirteen, Hương moved to Hanoi, working long hours, so that her family had food on their table. Despite these challenges, Hương’s passion for education never ceased. Always hungry for more, she registered herself for night classes. When her employers found out about this, they kicked her out of the house. Homeless and with nowhere to go, Hương did not let that stop her. More determined than ever, she took refuge under a staircase. She would attend night class, waking up at 02:00 am to cook sticky rice, which she would sell on the street. She managed to only get two hours of sleep each night and her living conditions were less than ideal.
In 2006, a short conversation with a classmate changed her life. She found out about KOTO, a hospitality training school for disadvantaged Vietnamese youth. Upon graduation she was immediately employed as a waitress at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel Westlake. Her onward journey took her to Australia, graduating with an Associate Degree in Commerce, further completing a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology. During her studies in Australia, she established the ‘Taste of Vietnam’ project delivering authentic Vietnamese food to Australians, with all profits going directly to support ‘Pink Hope Community Australia’, ‘KOTO’ and the ‘Breast Cancer Network Vietnam’. In 2007, Hương returned to Vietnam, to become ‘Director of Partnerships and Strategy’ at KOTO; and in 2018, she founded ‘HopeBox’, a social enterprise that provides employment opportunities for women who have fled from domestic violence. In 2016, Hương was recognized by BBC One Worldwide as one of the world’s top ‘50 inspirational people’; to earning title as ‘Young Leader’ in the Australia-Vietnam Young Leaders Dialogue in 2017 (amongst many other accolades).