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While micro-communities of business enthusiasts are popping up all over the country and in particular in Da Nang, Hai Phong and Dong Thap, the main startup hubs are still centered around the capital city of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) in the south.
The local business culture in both areas have quite distinct characteristics. Hanoi is known as a technological hub, where local players are pushing the needle in terms of software development and innovation. However, Ho Chi Minh’s community is known for its strong entrepreneurial mindset and culture, producing local talent who are business-minded, market-oriented and know how to build and scale businesses.
Local experts suggest that the community is not as united in Hanoi as in HCM city, partly due to the fact that lower average levels of English in Hanoi reduce the amount of international and bi-lingual events held there. There are a number of regular events in English across HCM city, appealing to foreign founders, returning Vietnamese who were born or have lived abroad, and locals who tend to have much higher levels of English than in other parts of the country.
Contributing 45 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), HCM City has seen investment in companies triple from 2017 to 2018 – making it only natural that Singapore’s programme to connect the city-state with major innovation hubs across the globe has now turned its attention to Vietnam’s largest city.
Also, HCM City is the third ASEAN city to join the GIA (Global Innovation Alliance) network after Jakarta and Bangkok. The eight other cities in the network are Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou (China), Berlin and Munich (Germany), San Francisco (United States), Tokyo (Japan) and Paris (France). From a city-wide perspective, Ho Chi Minh City’s addition to the GIA is in line with city planners’ goal to turn the urban sprawl of 8.6 million people into an international financial hub. By June 2020, the newly-developed Thu Thiem area in District 2 is expected to start construction of a financial centre complex as part of the government’s plans to attract major investors, enterprises and financial institutions.
Besides, culture differences existing in big cities should be taken into consideration before doing business. Of course, wherever you choose to invest and work, your lifestyle choices will be much better than that with which you have become accustomed in your own countries.