The Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce or “VietAmCham” held its Inaugural Reception on Sept. 15 at the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, Virginia. Founded by a group of successful Vietnamese American entrepreneurs, the VietAmCham was born in March, amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
“In these hard economic times, investment in the expansion of business owners’ networks is most crucial,” said Lieu Nguyen, Vice President of Safe Living Incorporated and Chairperson of VietAmCham.
“The mission for VietAmCham is to form a national voice for Vietnamese American businesses; provide an organized structure and development incubator to empower the community economically; and provide issue advocacy at state and federal levels,” said Chairperson Nguyen.
Katie Dang, VietAmCham’s Executive Director, who used to be a corporate restructuring/bankruptcy attorney, hopes that through networking events and referrals, relationships can be built among Vietnamese American businesses so that they are no longer limited to just their individual strengths. She also looks to build relationships beyond the Vietnamese American community by collaborating with other organizations.
“VietAmCham offers these networking opportunities, other resources and training to best position its members to emerge from the recession successfully,” said Chairperson Nguyen.
Many Vietnamese Americans landed in America as refugees (“boat people”) and have found their freedom on our “foreign” soil. Over the last 35 years, they used this freedom to build their own businesses. The majority of Vietnamese Americans are business owners or independent entrepreneurs. Today, the second generation, including those of Generation 1.5, has successfully embraced that entrepreneurial spirit, making their marks in various industries. Over the past decade, Vietnamese American business owners’ revenues have more than doubled, and their gross receipts account for well over $25 billion annually.
Chau Tran, President of Asian Pest Control, a small business based in Alexandria, Virginia, is excited about her company joining VietAmCham, “I think they’re going to help our business grow, at different levels, tremendously. It’ll open a lot of doors, big business opportunities that we cannot open, because we’re small businesses.”
“After 35 years of struggle to survive and re-establish our lives on a foreign land, it is time for us Vietnamese Americans to build bridges with the other ethnic populations and the different segments of the American society,” said Boat People SOS’ Executive Director, Dr. Dinh Thang Nguyen, who serves on VietAmCham’s board.
Chairperson Lieu Nguyen said, “The membership is open to all businesses, including non-Vietnamese-American businesses. There are a lot of businesses out there that are interested in tapping into the Vietnamese American market. They may not have had opportunities to do so before, but now they do.”
The Asian American Chamber of Commerce, based in Chantilly, Virginia, is very active and dedicated to improving the economic development for Asian Pacific American owned businesses in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. Cindy Shao, president of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Vietnamese is an ethnic group that stresses, very much, education and family values. Its population in this area has relatively high levels of education and income… I know many businesses, including Chinese businesses, want to do business with them, but due to language and culture barriers, it is hard. VietAmCham can definitely serve as a bridge.”
Congressman Joseph Anh Cao (LA-R), an honorary co-chair of VietAmCham, spoke at the reception. He called upon Vietnamese American entrepreneurs to get more involved in this country’s political life. “We need innovative, creative people that will be devoted to serving the people, on a solution-oriented basis. What better place to find these leaders than in a community built by the hands of innovators themselves?”
Information about VietAmCham can be found on website www.VietAmCham.com.