The partners of LP4Y in Vietnam share with us their vision of entrepreneurship
Arthur Michoux, Général Manager, Gameloft
Ashwin Gowrishankar, City Leader, Decathlon
I am Ashwin from Decathlon. Some of you know us, Decathlon is a sports product designer, manufacturer and retailer. Our goal is to sustainably make the pleasure and benefits sports accessible! It might sound like a lot of complicated words but what it really means that we believe that sports should be a right for the many and not a privilege for a few. To make this a reality, we apply this “golden rule” to every action we do and every decision we make. You might have noticed that there was a word “sustainably” in our goal. This word is essential, as for us it means sustainable in terms of our human beliefs and sustainable in terms of protecting our planet.
I arrived in HCMC 4 years ago and one thing stood out to me - Talent and Potential. Potential - of the market for sports and Talent - when I saw how entrepreneurial the Vietnamese people are. Let’s focus on Entrepreneurship as I think its the topic for the day. For me, I have had the chance to live among different cultures and I often like to think of links between them. Entrepreneurship comes from from the french word - “Entreprendre” which also comes from the Latin word “Entre” which means “between” and “prehendere” which means “to take”. Interestingly, it is also similar to the Sanskrit word (which is closer to my origins) “anthaprerna” which means “self-motivation”. For me, the modern meaning of entrepreneurship is thus “motivating oneself for taking charge”.
And this is what I saw in Ho Chi Minh City. This is what made me come to this city and this is what makes me stay here. I’ve often said the most exciting part of my team here is that each one has the entrepreneurial spirit and the most challenging part of managing my team is that each one has too much entrepreneurial spirit. We have some examples of our running market manager who also sells avocados on facebook!
Entrepreneurs need no qualifications because it is something “in” you but they need skills and methods to make sure they have the best shot at success. This is where I believe that LP4Y is a fantastic partner with a real technique of teaching these skills through your different stages of the program. This was the principal reason for which we felt we should work together. In Decathlon, we believe that talent can come from anywhere, and as far as possible that we should give chances to shine to people no matter where they come from or what background they have. The key for us is the shared values and attitudes of a sportsman - autonomous, responsible and dynamic - wanting to win!
We have worked with LP4Y in a small but concrete manner. We just started our business in Vietnam 4 years ago, and right from the beginning, we wished to create this link. Our first concrete action was to install a basketball hoop in the Go Vap center - which I took a lot of pleasure to do personally and to meet everyone there. Then we had some basketball lessons given by our Decathlon teammates who like this sport. We believe that through sport we can also learn so we tried to contribute where we felt we were credible > on the sports field.
Next, we also welcomed some interns who were a part of my team for a few weeks and who worked on different topics - including Design and market study and finally, when we opened our store, we have continued this process and today we have a teammate from Lp4y who is on contract with us working in the mountain sports department!
We, of course, have big ambitions to work on youth employability which we believe is one of the causes we will defend in HCMC. However, I believe that we should dream big and start small, but START! The end of the LP4Y chapter in Vietnam is indeed bad news for us as we will miss you as a partner, however, we hope to continue working on this cause.
Alice asked us what advice we would give to entrepreneurs, in all humility I would not give advice but share with you that what has always worked for me is to Dream big, start small but never forget that starting is the most important step. You will not have only successes and to remember that obstacles will be a part of the journey but I know that the Vietnamese strength of character in you will help you improvise, adapt to these obstacles and succeed in your ventures. Adaptability -> something I have discovered in Vietnam, for me is your greatest strength. So I would like to end with this quote from Bruce Lee on adaptability,-
“ You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”