Academic working with British Council to empower women in Vietnam

Expertise from our School Of Business is being applied to empower women in Vietnam through the development of creative social enterprise and design-led skills for female artisans and designers.

Dr Marta Gasparin, Lecturer in Design and Innovation Management, is working closely with the British Council in Vietnam as part of their Craft and Design Challenge to connect creative practitioners (designers) and social and creative enterprises with female artisans and craft makers’ communities in Vietnam, promoting social innovation, fair and ethical collaborations, and an appreciation of cultural heritage.

Crafting Futures is a British Council global programme supporting the development of sustainable craft industries. With an aim to create new and more inclusive opportunities for women in sustainable and ethical craft-based production, the British Council in Vietnam launched the Craft and Design Challenge in October 2017. 20 young designers and students were selected to develop their craft products and business plan for a VND 150 million (approximately £4,848) seed fund prize. The aim of the British Council is to create more inclusive opportunities for sustainable and ethical craft-based production.

Dr Gasparin’s role in the challenge will be to help mentor and coach the designers as an expert in the field in a series of three professional development workshops in Hanoi. She will help teach the students and designers about how to work with communities in Vietnam at a two week residency programme and she will discuss how they can best collaborate through delivering organised training sessions that will focus on sustainability and value creation.

Dr Gasparin explains further: “I am hopeful that the challenge will have a positive impact in ethnic minority communities in Vietnam. Training the designers will mean that they are then able to transfer their skills as many women in these communities have not been to school. They will be taught basic accountancy. For example, if they are required to provide 20m of material they need to first learn how to count and organise the process of sourcing the material. This challenge will teach them those skills.

“It is a two way learning process, as the designers will learn from these communities how they make their crafts. Influenced by this, they will use modern contemporary design to help create a product that can be sold.”

Dr Gasparin added: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project from the School of Business. Dr Martin Quinn and Dr Matthew Higgins have been instrumental in helping me organise the project. The British Council and partners in Vietnam have also been brilliant, helping arrange meetings with the Vietnamese government in Hanoi where we had a chance to discuss the challenge with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism who endorsed the project.”