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Tea Talk

A Social Enterprise in Hanoi, Vietnam

New Social Challenges
Vietnam’s economic reform has brought about rapid growth in its
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years. The economic
transition surfaces new social challenges for the socialist state. The  Vietnam  Government  plans  to 
train 60,000 social workers by 2020.   
Severe Shortage of Social Workers Source: Time Magazine 14 Jul 2010
The Vietnam government has recognized the dire need for more  
Lack  of  social  workers  reaches 
social workers. It plans to train 60,000 workers in the next decade.
critical  level  ­  Vietnam  will  need  to 
This would attain the recommended 1:10,000 worker to people train  an  additional  8,500  social 
ratio. [Sources: Time Magazine, 14 Jul 2010; VietNamNet Bridge,  workers  in  the  next  five  years,  and 
Feb 2009] 15,000  in  the  next  10  years,  in  order 
to  have  one  professional  social 
Limited Types of Social Services worker  per  10,000  people,  which  is 
The types of services available to the community are limited. Pro-  

active and preventive services are rare. Source: VietNamNet Bridge (Feb, 2009)

Each  year  around  1,000  social  work 

Lack of Culturally Appropriate Social Services students  graduate  from  the  30 
Typical counseling services, often only available in hospital universities  and  colleges  nationwide 
settings, are frowned upon because of the stigma they carry. involved  in  training  social  workers, 
yet  50%  of  the  graduates  have  not 
found  employment  in  the  field  for 
Poor Awareness and Limited Access which they trained.. 
Public awareness of social services is low, and access to the few Source: Vietnam Ministry of  
available services is poor despite the evident need. Foreign Affairs, 2009

Insufficient Employment Opportunities for New Vietnam has a culture that proscribes 

the  discussion  of  emotions  and 
Social Workers
distress is associated with shame or 
What few services are available are typically unprofessionally weakness.  
managed, and there are not enough employment opportunities for Source: Harpham & Tuan, 2006
those with a social work degree.

It is against this backdrop that Tea Talk is conceived.

Target Constituents
The target constituents of Tea Talk are those aged 18 to 30, residents of Hanoi.

Vietnam has a young population where young adults between 15-29 years of age make up almost a third of the
population. [Source: Euromonitor, Vietnam: Income & Expenditure, October 2008] 

The population of 20-year olds will nearly double over the four decades while the number of 30-year olds will
increase more than threefold. [Source: Euromonitor]

The median age of Vietnam’s population is 26 years old in 2010. [Source: Euromonitor International]
Objectives and Mission

Tea Talk is a social venture with the mission of

enhancing the well-being of the Vietnamese
by making counseling and psycho-educational services
accessible through the use of interactive drama and
other innovative, culturally appropriate platforms.

The Vietnamese enjoy a good cup of tea and coffee

in cafés. It is at such cozy settings that they socialize,
have conversations and reflections.

Through creative means like interactive drama,

Tea Talk seeks to create awareness of social issues
among its customers in a non-intrusive
and entertaining way.

Tea Talk has identified several leading social problems

in Vietnam, namely mental health, HIV/AIDS,
domestic violence, and family life issues.

Tea Talk Model:

Theory of Change
Tea Talk will employ social workers at the café to
engage in efforts to fight stigma through education and
dissemination of information on specific social issues.
Patrons will be engaged in discussions after dramatic
presentations on the subject matter.

At the heart of Tea Talk’s work is authentic participation 
via skilled facilitation of interactive drama and other
innovative platforms, leading to ownership of change
and the empowerment to act on it. By developing non-
threatening relationships with patrons, Tea Talk staff
can provide quality professional social work assistance
to address patrons’ needs.  

In short, the objectives of raising public awareness of

social issues and the availability of quality counseling
and psycho-educational services, and increasing the
public’s receptivity to these services are what shape the 
rudimentary service model of Tea Talk.

Unique Selling Point: Tea Talk is a cutting-edge social enterprise model. It is

distinctively different from existing social enterprises in Vietnam, combining the
creative arts and social services in a café setting to bring about social
consciousness and change.
SWOT Analysis
Resilient  Coffee  Culture: Sales of coffee recorded 13% growth in 2009 in
Strengths Vietnam, an increase of 1% from 2008, indicating that growth was not affected
by the economic recession. This indicates a strong coffee culture in Vietnam,
where consumption is not likely to decrease even during economic downturns.
[Source: Euromonitor, Coffee­Vietnam, April 2010] 

Non­threatening Platform for Social Change: Tea Talk’s setting makes it an 
apt platform to give voice to the marginalized and air issues traditionally
deemed taboo in the Vietnamese community.

Founder’s Keen Insight on Vietnam: Michael Ong, Tea Talk’s  founder,  has 

been living and working in Vietnam since 1990s. Fluent in Vietnamese and
having cultivated a high awareness of the culture, politics, and social service
sector in Vietnam, and  having  earned  a  master’s  degree  in  social  work  from 
the top-ranked social work school in the United States, Michael will provide on-
site guidance in the operation of Tea Talk in Hanoi.

Wide  Network  and  Trustworthy  Local  Investors: The founder has a wide
network of contacts, ranging from those in the social service sector to the
business and food-and-beverage sectors. He has also known his Vietnamese
investors for more than a decade.

Strong  Partnership  with  Dean  of  Social  Work  Department  from  ULSA:
The founder has been a social work consultant at the University of Labor &
Social Affairs (ULSA). He is well acquainted with the director of ULSA and the
dean of the social work department, which is run by the Ministry of Labor -
Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).
Ready Customer Base: Tea Talk has accessibility to university students, as it
will be situated near a few universities, including ULSA.

Lean Team: There will be one café manager and 2 service staff to run Tea
Talk. The small team will promote greater efficiency and productivity.

Rough Business Terrain: The business environment in Vietnam can be volatile

and  unpredictable.  Vietnam  is  listed  as  118th  in  2010’s  “Best  Countries  for 
Business”. [Source: Forbes]

Unproven  Concept: Even though Tea Talk is a novel venture, it is also an

untested concept. SWOT Analysis
Double  Bottom  Line: There is a constant need to balance both objectives. It Opportunities
may also turn out to be a distraction.
Rising business costs in Vietnam: Business and other costs such as rent and
raw materials are rising in Vietnam.


Projected Growth for Café Business: Sales of cafes/bars grew by 18% in

current value terms in 2008 and are projected to grow at an annual 8%
compound rate until 2013. [Source: Euromonitor, Cafes/Bars, Nov 2009] 

Concept Expandable via Franchising: The concept can be easily replicated in

other parts of Vietnam, as well as other countries.

Population  Growth  in  the  Cities: With the trend of population growth in the
cities, this proves to be a great opportunity for Tea Talk. It complements Tea
Talk’s business and social objectives.

Projected  Growth  in  Young  People  with  Spending  Power: As the targeted
customer base is young people from 18 to 30 years old, the projected growth in
this demographic would be advantageous for Tea Talk.  


Saturated  Café  Market:  Vietnam is full of a variety of cafes. The market is


Poor  Infrastructure: Vietnam’s  less-developed infrastructure may cause


Possibility of New Entrants with Novel Ideas: If Tea Talk is successful, other

innovative café ventures could start up and prove to be a threat for Tea Talk.
Marketing Plan Product

Customers at Tea Talk not only can savor premium Vietnamese coffee and tea, they can also
enjoy wholesome home-baked cakes and pastries as well as an assortment of local and
international delights.

Through innovative avenues to present social issues, customers can also walk away with
heightened awareness of themselves and situations they may encounter.

The prices at Tea Talk are lower than typical tourist cafes but slightly more expensive than 
Vietnamese street cafes.  
This is to attract Tea Talk's targeted market segment, namely the local students and young adults
who have a bit of discretionary income but are unwilling to spend too much.

The founder's wide network among universities, NGOs and Vietnamese businesses will be its first
line of publicity. Outreach projects and public awareness campaigns in the nearby high schools
and universities will also be initiated.

Strategic partnerships will be cultivated with existing social enterprises to forge synergies serving
common objectives. Interesting and innovative programs of interactive drama, songs, puppet
shows, art exhibitions and the arrangement of special international meals will be used to attract

Dong Da District and Cau Giay District  are identified as the locations where the Tea Talk will
be situated.

These two districts have a high concentration of universities. One of these is the University of
Labor and Social Affairs. Many new high rise residential buildings and businesses are also being
established there.

The map and photographs in the following page provide a snapshot of the targeted location.
Marketing Plan Place

[Source: Google Maps]

Social Work Objectives

Increase Awareness of Social Issues in Vietnam 
Tea Talk seeks to address issues related to mental health, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS,
marital issues, and parenting.

It is Tea Talk’s assumption that accurate information and knowledge will reduce the stigma 
in help-seeking behavior, thus increasing the usage of existing social services, resulting in
timely treatment for individuals and improving the overall well-being for the individual,
family, and the community as a whole.

Provide Social Work Employment in a Non­Traditional Setting   
By employing social work graduates to work at the café, Tea Talk is pioneering new ways
to deliver services; an “out of the box” provision of social services. Tea Talk believes that
by setting the trend and by being a catalyst, policy change will ensue.

With concrete measures of social returns, the government, local and international non-
government organizations (NGOs), and the general business community can evaluate the
benefits of Tea Talk’s services to the community.  

These institutions, organizations, and businesses may begin to explore and embrace the
employment of social workers in non-traditional settings, leading to breakthrough
interventions and strategies to address social problems.
Offer Internship Programs for Social Work Undergraduates 
Tea Talk provides field practice or internship programs for social work undergraduate
students from partnering universities.

During the internship with Tea Talk, students will be exposed and trained in interactive
drama techniques, counseling skills, psycho-educational services, facilitation skills, and
referral systems with regard to services available.

By providing supervision and training programs, Tea Talk enhances the learning process
of intern students and their development of awareness and expertise regarding many
social issues, as well as the complicated dynamics of stigma and discrimination.
There is sufficient data to believe that Tea Talk is a
feasible venture. In short, the high level of interest
among stakeholders, the innovative approach to
tackling social issues, and the passion of the Tea
Talk team are reasons why we believe that Tea Talk
will become the talk of the town.

M +65-8377-6037