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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 29, 2006

Written by C.N.

Vietnamese American Entrepreneurship

The New York Times has an article about the emergence of entrepreneurship among Vietnamese Americans, perhaps best symbolized by the opening of the first two banks owned by Vietnamese Americans in the U.S., both of which are located in Little Saigon, Orange County, CA:

[Until recently] the banking needs of the immigrant companies were served by major institutions, like the Bank of America and Wells Fargo, or by Chinese and Korean banks. But now, two new banks with investors and owners from the Vietnamese community have opened, indicating the rising prosperity of Vietnamese businesses in America and growing economic connections with a vibrant entrepreneurial sector back in Vietnam.

First Vietnamese American Bank raised more than $11 million in capital and opened in May. More than pride is at stake for ethnic groups in having banks of their own, said John J. Kennedy, president of the other new institution, Saigon National Bank, which opened in November. . . . Mr. Kennedy was hired to get Saigon National going by its founding investors, led by Kiem D. Nguyen, owner of one of the largest supermarkets in Little Saigon.

The article goes on to describe several other examples of Vietnamese American entrepreneurs who have opened businesses that have the ability to operate transnationally, in the U.S. and Viet Nam. In addition to banks that specialize in handling remittances (immigrants sending money back to family and relatives in Viet Nam), they include travel agencies, clothing and apparel import/export, software development and computer engineering, telecommunications, food processing, etc.

This is a positive development for Vietnamese Americans and American society in general in a lot of ways. Clearly the most obvious benefit is that as Vietnamese American entrepreneurship burgeons and businesses such as these prosper, it helps the American economy and the Vietnamese American economy.

But one indirect benefit that’s likely to result is that as more Vietnamese Americans do businesses with the government of Viet Nam, hopefully old tensions and hostilities between the two sides will gradually fade into the background. Instead, the spirit of commerce and capitalism will be paramount, which will hopefully benefit the Vietnamese American entrepreneurs but also improve the standard of living among the citizens of Viet Nam.

This entrepreneurial phenomenon is still in its infancy of course, but it definitely shows potential. Who would have thought that rather than dividing people up, capitalism is poised to bring people closer together in this case?


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Vietnamese American Entrepreneurship" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/01/vietnamese-american-entrepreneurship/> ().

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