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Shuli Ren

Ladies in Red Make a Bull Case for Vietnam

A high female workforce-participation rate, a vestige of the war, helps the country exploit its demographic dividend. That’s good news for foreign money.

Paying dividends.

Paying dividends.

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Women hold up half of the sky, or so Communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong liked to say. These days, that’s certainly the case in Vietnam. 

Throughout the country, many well-known businesses are run by women. There’s Mai Kieu Lien, who captured the rising middle class’s thirst for protein-rich milk drinks and built Vietnam Dairy Products JSC into a $10 billion empire. Then there’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, founder of budget airline VietJet Aviation JSC, who became Vietnam’s first female billionaire – and not just because of its bikini-clad flight attendants. Vietnam’s hourglass Hanoi-to-Ho Chi Minh City geography makes flying an efficient option in a nation that’s yet to build a high-speed rail line between the two megacities.