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Diaspora and Web 2.0: A New Social Network for Vietnamese Communities Worldwide

OneVietnam LogoOverseas communities have long played an important role in the economic development of their home countries.

Last month  saw the launch in Dublin of Gateway Ireland , an ambitious project to leverage these ancestral ties by connecting the modern Irish State with the Irish diaspora worldwide using Web 2.0 technology.

However, the Irish will not be the first ethnic group to extend the virtual border of their nation beyond geographical boundaries with Web 2.0 technology.

OneVietnam Network, which launched a beta site on 17th June 2010, is the first social network site built by a diaspora to connect up geographically dispersed communities worldwide.  OneVietnam’s goal is to promote networking among the global Vietnamese to support  philanthropic activities and promote development in the motherland.

Vietnam Today is not Vietnam Yesterday

Hanoi Towers

Hanoi Towers (c) E8Club

Vietnam today bears little resemblance to the country represented in Hollywood movies of the last 50 years.

With one of Asia’s youngest populations, Vietnam  is a rapidly developing country of 86 million people with a vibrant, dynamic, high growth economy.  Twenty years since the government started the policy of modernization or ‘renovation’, the problems faced by the country today are as much to do with success as they are to do with underdevelopment.

Vietnam’s people at home and abroad are diligent, forward thinking, and smart.  There is a great sense of optimism that the country is successfully making the transition to a brighter future. Overseas communities have been actively cultivated by the government for many years and are playing a key role in development at home.

The worldwide overseas community is made up of several million first and second generation Vietnamese located in the USA, France, UK, Canada and over 26 other countries including Ireland.

The goal of the OneVietnam Network  is to provide a contemporary channel for what Vietnamese people have always done: collaborate for the benefit of families and communities, regardless of where they are located.

Who are OneVietnam?

OneVietnam was started by a group of young Vietnamese American professionals .  With the support of a heavyweight advisory board of US academic , philanthropic and IT business leaders, the project kicked off in 2009.   The project aim is to deliver an online platform  that uses the latest in Web 2.0 technology to connect up the Vietnamese global community for the purpose of philanthropy.

OneVietnam Network is non-political  and non-profit organisation.  It is funded by the East Meets West Foundation (EMWF).  One of EMWF’s biggest sponsors  is Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies, an organisation very well known to Irish readers.

The project has already gained serious momentum even before the official launch.  While the final platform was under development, the team started to recruit community through The OneVietnam  Facebook Page which has 5000+ fans and the OneVietnam  blog which contains  200+ original articles and received more than 50,000 hits in 2009.

How Does OneVietnam Work?

YouTube Preview Image

OneVietnam Network allows users to discover and take part in their community through a one-click, search find- and-contribute system. Users can instantly sign up to the philanthropic projects that matter to them most, like the construction of a new library in their hometown.

Another aim of OneVietnam Network is to open up dialogue opportunities between Vietnamese worldwide, helping younger generations to get reinvested in their motherland – as well as filling in the communication gap between individuals who want to contribute and nonprofits who can provide resources.

The Platform Features:

  • Connect to OneVietnam using existing accounts with Google, Facebook or Twitter so there is no need for an extra sign in.
  • Pull and publish content from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Kiva and more.
  • Receive instant updates, videos, pictures, events and blogs from the people and groups building the Vietnamese community, anywhere in the world.
  • Champion a cause:  Publish an idea, gain the support from peers, and become a champion of a cause.
  • 1-click philanthropist “ button –  Users can donate time or money to a cause in just a click. Projects can be tracked and users can see the fruit of their contributions through videos, photos, and first person accounts.
  • The initial launch on 17th June has a US English user interface but the site code is world ready and already supports localised content.  UI localization is not immediately planned but will be considered if there is sufficient demand.

Q&A with OneVietnam Network

Uyen Nguyen

Uyen Nguyen, Co-founder OneVietnam Network

I chatted recently to Uyen Nguyen, co-founder and business development director of OneVietnam Network, about the project:

DQ: What is the difference between OneVietnam.Org and just creating an online group on Facebook or Linked in, for instance?:

UN: “In addition to the many extra features for making connections with the community available on the new platform, the key difference between us and other social networks is our philanthropic focus.  Try raising funds for an important cause on Facebook day in and day out.  You’ll be competing with the hundreds of other things that people go onto Facebook to do.  On OneVietnam, we attract people who share a common appreciation for the Vietnamese culture, and then we make it easy for them to contribute to causes that help Vietnamese people.  “

DQ: The US contains many different groups of people with overseas heritage. In these times of economic uncertainty, what role do you think that a diaspora can play in supporting the economic and social development of the heritage country?

UN: “There is no doubt that Vietnamese expats have a strong affinity for Vietnam and desire to help the disadvantaged in our motherland.   Vietnamese expats send about $7 billion (USD) in remittances to Vietnam each year.  That’s nearly 10% of Vietnam’s GDP.  “

DQ: For other countries with large expat communities around the world, do you think that the OneVietnam platform and concept could be adapted so we would have, for instance, a,, etc ?

UN: “Definitely! It is in our long term vision to make the OneVietnam platform available to other ethnic communities.  We’ve actually already begun speaking to other expat communities, and they’ve all shown strong interest in adopting the technology.  Our platform not only will be the best way to connect expat communities spread out across the world but can also transform the landscape of philanthropy altogether.  One of the technologies we’re working on is an intelligent system that will “automagically” match you up with philanthropic projects that matter to you most, like the construction of a library in your home town in Nha Trang, Vietnam.  “

DQ:  Even though has its roots in the USA community, do you see the platform as a global one that will include the Vietnamese communities in other countries increasingly in the future?

UN: “Certainly!  We want OneVietnam Network to be a global network, with Vietnamese people and friends of Vietnam from all corners of the world.  First we will have to focus our resources to bringing the Vietnamese American community online. Rest assured, you will see us marketing like mad in other parts of the world when we have more funding and man power.  The amazing thing about the internet is that anyone can have access to our network.  So we welcome Vietnamese people from any where in the world to join us online!  “

DQ: Any release dates & other red letter days for OneVietnam this year?

UN: “Our preview launch will be on June 17.  Starting June 17, users can sign up on our website to preview the network and to provide early feedback.  Some features of the network will continue to be developed until our public launch, which we hope to happen later this year.  “

I am an experienced international marketing and product localisation specialist with more than 20 years experience in European, Latin American and East Asian markets. Wide functional experience in international software program management and product planning, intranet and internet project management, international product planning and marketing management, training course development and delivery – as well as localisation project management. With 15 years spent working at Visio Corporation and Microsoft in Office, Exchange, HRD and Business Solutions divisions as an international program manager– I have also worked as a consultant with a leading online marketing communications firm and in the aviation training and third level sector.

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  • Thanks Dermot, really interesting to see how other diaspora are using web 2.0 to connect.

    What surprises me a little about some of these projects is that rather than incorporate exsiting social media. many are looking to build features that are already available through Linkedin, Twitter etc.

  • DermotQ

    Good point Niall – however I think this may be the start of a trend as folks develop a more sophisticated understanding of Social Media and realise that the ‘one size fits all’ approach of Facebook, Linked in etc doesn’t suit every application. See yesterday’s Guardian Tech article on ‘Emerging Social Networks’ the other hand, OneVietnam (OVN) is fully integrated with Facebook and Twitter at the application level – so you can share your facebook Friends with OVN and have your OVN updates show on your FB wall.

  • A social network can be thrown together pretty easily – what is Gateway Ireland waiting for, other than government support? What are they trying to do that is so revolutionary?

  • That’s the plan, thanks Elaine 🙂

  • I’m in!

  • Thanks for the suppot as always Christina 🙂

  • Facundo

    Looking forward to your posts Elaine & Tina

  • Sweet!

  • Facundo Villaveiran: This is a “sweet” contest!

    Niall Devitt: I am glad to see the prizes. I remember you and I talked about companies like HP in our phone conversation some time ago. I look forward to talk to you soon again regarding your new project.

  • @Bloggertone I have now added the promotional banner on my EGO blog. I had to pick the 125×125, because the bigger one (300×250) could not be placed in a perfect way in the right column. It is a space for 300 px, but you have some margins included in the code, so it is a bit hard to use in the blogger template.

  • Facundo

    Thanks Martin! We’ll look into that

  • Hi Martin, yes it was good to finally chat. Let’s catch up after the comp 🙂

  • Great, I’m looking forward to this contest! If I don’t forget about it until the 30th, I might even submit an article 🙂

  • Thanks Eugenia, so are we! why not set a reminder 🙂

  • Felix | Blogging for Profit

    Wow! Great Prizes. I want to join! Thanks for the opportunity.

  • I prefer to be epic.  That does not mean long, but it does mean to have a big idea.  I don’t blog every day and sometimes I skip a month or two.  But when I do blog, I try to present a big idea – something that most other bloggers in my niche just are not doing.

  • Thanks Michael, 

    Yes, Seth is the best business writer out there by a long shot. Something he said that stuck with me was to be remarkable.

    What he meant by remarkable was not to be clever clever but to write/do/create something that others will remark on.

    Simple when you think about it 🙂


  • “Communicate with impact or don’t communicate at all” is a quote of Jay Abraham’s that I am fond of, especially when it comes to this topic of differentiating yourself from every one else who’s going after the same dollar/same minutes your perfect prospect has to spend.

    Epic is something I’m going to be exploring as I just finished a 10,522 word post that’ll be going up next week.

    Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the secret to success but I do know the path to failure – trying to please everyone. Putting your personality on display is one place where I believe you gain an advantage in any niche you enter. But you’ve gotta go for Love Me or Hate Me. If people just put up with you, they won’t do that for long at all.

    Thanks Ivan for reminding of such an important blogging success principle!

  • Anonymous

    All of the above plus you have to reinvent yourself over and over and over again, so that you can keep the loyal readers curious and constantly (positively ) surprised while you are gaining new readers with each new transformation.

  • “There is something about the physical effort of writing that helps the brain to process the information I think” Great observation, Helen! I think it is because it gets us to slow down and really listen. Thanks for the comment – Niall

  • Hi Niall,
    Writing forces us to think at a slower pace, thereby helping the information to “stick” better. I certainly takes notes in all meetings, whether with the iPad, or on paper (there is something about writing on paper that is fulfilling)
    I feel it also reassures the (potential) client, like your point 3 above.
    It also allows us to refer back to earlier points “earlier you mentioned….” and can really help re-focus the client if they tend to go off on a tangent 🙂
    Interesting points…

  • Some great points there, Elaine. Thanks for sharing your experience and insight. Another one that perhaps I should have mentioned is that note taking allows you to easily summarise at the end of the meeting. I often find when I do so that this prompts the person to add even further details. 

  • Great topic for discussion! I am a pen and paper note taker myself. I feel with all the data floating around in my head, the distractions etc. I need the pen & paper notes. I ask lots of mindful questions about the business and note taking allows me to be a better listener and remember key points. I think it also frees creative thinking. There are probably studies on this. Taking notes and asking the right questions demonstrates credibility to the person sitting in front of you.

  • Hi Andrea, thank you for the great comment! Your point about creative thinking is really interesting, I hadn’t thought of that but I reckon you’re right. I must go find out 🙂

  • I think taking notes is good for you.It doesn’t matter which meeting you are going to attend.Your reasons to take notes are really good.Some time our mind is so tired at that time we are not able to remind every points in our mind so in that situation note taking is best way to remind all things in proper way. I enjoy at the time of reading your post.Its really an informative & interesting post.Keep sharing with us in future too.

  • richardarcher

    Some suggestions for people considering going international and maybe eventually global.

    Under points 1 & 2, contact the US Small Business Administration. Many of the SBA area offices have SCORE advisers available who have substantial international business experience, including experience breaking into new international markets. Through the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers, particularly the South-West Texas Border Region SBDC that operates under management of the International Trade Center Small Business Development Center. The SCORE advisers and SBDCGlobal can put you in touch with business opportunities in other countries, or if you are marketing through the internet, can give you information on how to navigate the export process, including potential access to EX-IM assistance and insuring receivables. The SBA also has information available for a wide variety of industries so that you develop a better understanding of the business you are in and the competitive situation in that industry. The US Dept of Commerce has a lot of economic data by industry. Your company and personal income taxes are already paying for SBA and Department of Commerce services, and they are typically good (and many times free), so why not take advantage of them.

    For recommendations 3, 4 and 5, talk to your CPA. If the CPA firm that does your taxes and/or financial statements is a member of one of the international networks of accountancy firms, they should have access to materials about doing business in other countries where the network has affiliate firms. If you are considering going international and do not already work with a CPA firm that is a member of an international accountancy network or does not have international trade experience himself/herself, you should start interviewing CPA firms that are members of an international network or have the experience. It doesn’t have to be a Big 4 or Top 10 CPA firm. Many small regional or local CPA firms are members of international accountancy networks. Not only can you get information about doing business in other countries, but if you decide to visit one of your target market countries, the CPA firms can frequently line up meetings and contacts with similar small and medium sized businesses that would not be accessible through US trade offices in US embassies in foreign countries. Working with the right CPA on international opportunities can give more than just your tax returns and financial statements.

  • Glad you like my post Elli. It took me a long time to get this article done. I did research a lot and tried to cover all the important Tips, informations etc. Well, now i’m happy to see the response. Thanks again 🙂

  • Thanks SIan, I always appriciate your comments and feedbacks. Really happy you see your comment. I’m working on my next post. I’ll submit soon. 🙂

  • hanjoko

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