The richest among them, Pham Nhat Vuong, owner of real estate conglomerate Vingroup and Vietnam’s first billionaire named by Forbes in 2012, has been ranked the world’s 499th wealthiest person this year, with a net worth of US$5.5 billion as of March 9.
This is the sixth consecutive year the self-made billionaire has been honoured in the annual Forbes World’s Billionaire List.
Founded in 2002, Vingroup has expanded its presence in many sectors, including retail, education, healthcare, commercial and hospitality real estate, agriculture and, the latest, automobile production.
Talking to journalists about making it to the top 500 richest men in the world, Vuong said: “I don’t care about that. We will do what we think is good for society, good for many people and are capable of.”
“If I just want to spend on one thing or another, I would have stopped my work a long time ago,” Vuong said, adding, “As a human, I cannot live a wasted life”.
A lot of Vingroup’s products and services in real estate, resorts, health, education and agriculture have earned customers’ trust. They not only help generate huge profits for the company and its owners but also create massive jobs for workers and farmers who have joined the production chain in its business lines.
Vingroup has been among the pioneers in investing heavily in hi-tech agriculture, targeting clean and safe food production. After two years of operation, VinEco has produced thousands of agricultural products, including many kinds of vegetables, fruits and spices.
More than 200 categories of Vingroup’s products are being produced in automatic control procedures in green houses, such as mushrooms, vegetable sprouts, hydroponic vegetables, melons, cucumbers and baby cucumbers, while applying advanced technology from Japan, Israel and the Republic of Korea.
To assist farmers in familiarising with modern agriculture, in September 2016, Vingroup launched the programme “Support and promote agricultural production in Vietnam”, which attracted 3,000 applicants. Nearly 800 households have sold their products through Vingroup’s retail chains, Vinmart and Vinmart.
In addition to this, VinEco has organised many large-scale training seminars for farmers nationwide, attracting 2,000 participants and supporting more than 500 households to register for VietGap.
Vingroup’s investment in agriculture has helped change the agricultural production model, support farmers who participate in its production chain with both capital and technology and secure their businesses by committing to buy their produce with stable prices.
According to Nguyen Si Dung, former Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Office, VinGroup has contributed to raising labour productivity, creating jobs and paying high income to nearly 50,000 workers, which has had enormous social significance.
Two new entrants in the Forbes list – Hoa Phat Group Chairman Tran Dinh Long and Truong Hai Auto Corporation’s (Thaco) Chairman Tran Ba Duong – have also expanded investments in agriculture-related areas.
Steel producer Hoa Phat Group has invested in animal feed and livestock breeding as well as cattle and poultry. In 2018, the group is expected to supply over 20 million chicken eggs to the market and increase Australian beef production. In the next five years, it plans to sell 300 million chicken eggs per year, 75,000 beef cattle, 650,000 pigs and one million tonnes of animal feed.
The Thaco Chairman has opted to invest in agricultural machinery. On February 21 this year, Thaco inaugurated a VND500-billion agricultural machinery manufacturing plant in the Chu Lai-Truong Hai Industrial Complex in Quang Nam province, which has been built in collaboration with LS Mtron, a company from the Republic of Korea.
In the first stage, the plant is expected to manufacture 2,000 tractors per year, 3,000 sets of cultivators and 1,000 combined harvesters.
The only woman billionaire, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, may not have direct investment in agriculture, but her budget airline Vietjet has provided farmers with opportunities to travel in cheap flights instead of trains or passenger cars, contributing to healthy competition in the aviation industry.
According to economist Le Dang Doanh, people used to envy the rich in the past, but now society honours those who are devoted to helping the poor. They are also an inspiration for the youth, he said.