Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion


Established in 2008

The Journey

CSIP’s story began when the founder thought: “How can we make a transformational change for a better society?” Inspired by Declan Ryan, a maverick Irish entrepreneur and also the co-founder of The One Foundation, a private philanthropic fund based in Ireland, Pham Kieu Oanh started her journey.

Oanh engaged a group of friends to conduct 40 interviews with leading social and business champions across Vietnam on social entrepreneurship practices and existing models in the country. She was lucky to meet and be inspired by a number of social entrepreneurs like Jimmy Pham, the founder and CEO of KOTO International. The study enhanced her strong belief in social entrepreneurship as a hybrid field – part social and part business. It borrows from an eclectic mix of business and social sector practices, tools and methodology to reconfigure solutions to community problems and deliver sustainable social values.

Oanh believed that it was time to introduce social entrepreneurship as an alternative approach to solve the development problems in Vietnam, by enabling social enterprises to achieve both social and economic returns sustainably.

CSIP works to promote social and environmental changes by building a social entrepreneurship movement in Vietnam. CSIP aims to provide direct nurture and support to social enterprises at their critical development stages in order to maximise their chances of success. They also work and engage with other stakeholders to improve the operating environment for social enterprises.

CSIP not only invests in and develops social enterprises, but also facilitates networking, public awareness-raising, and policy advocacy to mobilize resources - creating an enabling environment for social enterprises.

CSIP has recently shifted to focussing on the enterprise rather than the individual social entrepreneur – while all the time recognising that social enterprises are led by social entrepreneurs.  The important emphasis set out in the theory of change. CSIP’s focus under their current business plan is on the growth and development of early-stage social enterprises to build the pipeline.

The organisation recognises that effective leadership is a critical enabler for building successful social enterprises, and therefore the social entrepreneur remains an important focal point for their work, in particular the non-financial support provided within the SESP programme.

Have a more detailed look at CSIP’s Development Journey over the last five years. 

What is CSIP? 

Support for Social Entrepreneurs

CSIP provides support directly to the enterprise, whilst still placing importance on building the capacities and skills of the entrepreneurs within the organisation.

Social Enterprise Support Program (SESP) is the key program of CSIP which identifies and directly invests in innovative and high impact social enterprises in their critical stages of development in order to enhance their sustainability and social impact. The SESP provides financial and non-financial support to social enterprises at their most critical development stages: Incubation and Acceleration.

The program aims to test the social enterprise’s innovative business model at a pilot location (Social Enterprise Incubation programme); the programme also encourages potential social enterprises ready to scale-up and widen their impact to a larger target population (Social Enterprise Acceleration programme).

The support provided within each programme includes:

Financial Grants: social enterprises are provided with a seed grant to develop and implement their ideas/projects (between $10,000 - $30,000).

Technical Support: Originators of ideas/projects will be provided with basic knowledge and skills related to the effective establishment, leadership, and management of their social entrepreneurial organisations. Social enterprises are coached to develop business plans including value chain analysis, market research, financing, human resources and operations plans.

Legal Assistance: social enterprise are matched to pro bono support resources and provided with the necessary information about the laws that they must operate under to comply with Vietnamese policies.

Consultancy: CSIP also provides social enterprises with advocacy and networking support.

Top tips for supporters around the world

ü  Map the sectors to understand the concept, context and policy of social entrepreneurship

ü  Set up the SE pipeline by identifying investors and donors in both international and local sectors so as to attract their direct investment and incubation in social entrepreneurship

ü  Work with government for an official SE legal framework

ü  Build up a vibrant customer market and an active social investment market for social entrepreneurship in the region

Challenges & Opportunities

Social entrepreneurship is still a new concept and not the prioritized agenda by donors in Vietnam. Also, a social enterprise is not legally recognised and supported by the government in Vietnam.

However, CSIP has invested and developed a growing number of investment-ready social enterprises. Vietnamese social enterprises are now officially recognised on the global social enterprise map and showcased in different international forums.

CSIP found that the lack of access to capital is one of the most significant barriers to the development of the sector.  For simplicity and clarity we characterise two forms of finance – start-up capital and growth capital, both of which are largely absent / inadequate in the Vietnamese social enterprise sector.  The organisation aims to bring new players and new forms of finance to the social enterprise market.

CSIP has run a crowdfunding campaign to attract investment from individuals aside from funders or impact investors and the results indicate that there are excellent prospects this kind of fundraising.


CSIP measures its impact based on information about the business performance and outcomes of each social enterprise. Some of the success indicators they use are:

  • # of marginalized people engaged, trained, and lives changed directly by social enterprises
  • # of new jobs created by social enterprises
  • Economic value saved by social enterprises’ products/services
  • Funds raised/generated by social enterprises

Since 2009, CSIP has provided business support to and directly nurtured 40 social enterprises across Vietnam, which directly empowered and improved the quality of life in healthcare, education, and livelihood for 18,700 people; and 200,000 people benefitted from the social enterprises' programmes & activities

CSIP has also contributed significantly to an increased awareness and enabled a better policy environment for social entrepreneurship in Vietnam.

Social entrepreneurship was officially and widely acknowledged in Vietnam in 2012.

The Social Entrepreneurs

“CSIP’s training is very helpful for me to realize myself as a social entrepreneur. I used to think that I just did charity work to help the children but now I understand myself as a social entrepreneur and I’m aware of many strategic management issues such as: leadership, branding, organizational development…which all lead to long-term sustainability.” – Ms Do Thuy Lan, Founder of Morning Star Centre.

Morning Star Centre, which was established in 1995, is a pioneering centre for consulting on early intervention and care of children with disabilities, especially autistic children. Through scientific methods, the Centre helps them develop and grow to the best of their ability. Morning Star assists children with social integration, allows them to gain independence and to be able to live their lives as best as they can. The early intervention program includes developing independence, social skills, languages and communication, behavioural and sensory therapy. The Centre also supports parents in terms of raising awareness, breaking down complex situations, providing emotional and technical support as well as providing instruction for interacting and taking care of intellectually disabled children.

“CSIP connected us with experienced social enterprises and business people so that we could seek advice and business opportunities from them. The program brought us to various forums where we could promote our project and our business products and look for customers and partners. The program also connected us with related SE funding channels so that we could seek more funds for our SE.” – Ms Nguyen Thu Hue, Founder of ECOLIFE

ECOLIFE was created by two local female entrepreneurs, inspired from community projects by the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development (mCd) in 2009 of which they were both are leaders. Their aim is to establish and operate a community based eco-tourism model. Starting in the Nam Dinh and Thai Binh provinces, ECOLIFE was set up to raise awareness amongst the local people about protecting their environment. They train the locals to manage environmentally friendly tour packages, provide accommodation in home-stays and organize volunteer activities. ECOLIFE also provides education on climate change issues, environmentally friendly practices and helps the locals to find ways to be adaptive to climate change.

Partnerships & Financial Sustainability

CSIP is committed to bringing in new players and new forms of finance to the capital market eco-system for social enterprise (both for SESP and non-SESP investees).  As well as supporting the development of a critical component of the overall market, this activity is also well aligned with CSIP’s own fundraising agenda.

CSIP raises funds from individuals, foundations and corporations such as The One Foundation, Irish Aid, Bristish Council, Diageo Vietnamto cover operational costs and program expenses.

In addition, CSIP runs a business arm that can generate revenues and reduce its dependence on grant income and fundraising.

CSIP has close strategic partnerships to set the agenda for organisational and social entrepreneurship sector development. Important partnerships that provide technical and pro-bono support to CSIP and social enterprises include many local corporations: CIEM, VCCI, Tri Tri, NH Quang & Associates.

Mr Luu Minh Duc, Central Institute of Economic Management, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam:

“Our partnership brings mutual benefits; CSIP has a good network on the ground for the development of social enterprises, in the meantime, we have a good research base. We are both pioneering Vietnamese organizations in the sector. So, it is clear that both of us have great mutual benefits in working together to fulfil each organization's social mission; for CSIP it is the development of social enterprises, for CIEM it is the socio-economic development of policies in the country.”

Ms Cao Thi Ngoc Bao, British Council Vietnam:

“Our partnership will continue to play a critical role in coordinating efforts from all relevant stakeholders in a joined movement for the overall development of the sector. CSIP and BC have been recognised as leading agencies for our work in three key areas: establishing a strong foundation for the sector to grow; bringing key players together; mobilising contributions and support from the wider international network” 



Pham Kieu Oanh



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