Keynote speakers are people from all walks of life who have dedicated their lives to create positive change in our world. At the Saigon GIN Conference, they bring empowerment, inspiration, and hope to the future change-makers of Asia.
Bernard Kervyn, Director, Mekong Quilts NGO
“When in high school I read a fascinating book about poverty in India. It was a real shock to me.
Till then my only passion was sailing and sail racing. After this book, I decided life should have a meaning and this could only be possible if we could contribute to reducing injustice and poverty.
With my MBA degree in my pocket, I joined a development program in Bangladesh. I liked it so much I stayed 9 years. Back in Europe, I had the opportunity work 4 years at General Electric Medical Systems, as a product manager. But soon I felt I should go back to Asia and pursue development work. I created Mekong Plus from scratch. Today we work in 800 villages and we have achieved much much more than I could ever dream of. I am very proud of my Vietnamese and Cambodian teams.”
LanVy Nguyen, Founder, Fashion4Freedom
“FASHION4FREEDOM provides access to capital, design and technology for Vietnamese artisans. We bridge the gap between small producers and the fashion industry to ensure social responsibility in manufacturing while preserving traditional skills. Furthermore, we’re developing web tools to allow buyers access to production and to procure with ethical confidence.”
LanVy Nguyen is the founder of Fashion4Freedom, she leads a group of multi-disciplinary design innovators committed to bringing economic democracy and social impact to the current fashion industry. She calls herself an accidental philanthropist having left corporate America to invest in big manufacturing overseas only to be judgmental and dissatisfied with social and environmental outcomes in Vietnam, LanVy established an impact fund that directly invests in rural farmers and artisans. Today the fund has invested in over 100 artisan co-ops, villages, and communities impacting over 40K people in rural Vietnam while changing the manufacturing model that includes traditional makers and preserve artisanal heritage. FASHION4FREEDOM has accomplished in creating a new manufacturing model that efficiently use impact funds to inject new capital, improve productivity, and empower an unrepresented labour force to compete with conventional factory methods.
With experience at all levels of the supply chain from designing to quality assessment, LanVy has the unique portfolio to provide the industry with an alternative and ethical choice for product development and production. Prior to work in Vietnam, LanVy spent a decade in roles relating to corporate finance, business development, and mergers & acquisition. She combines strength in business development, manufacturing experience, love of design and passion for social change to establish Fashion4Freedom.
Kai Kuramoto, Founder, Cleanbodia
With a degree in Finance from the University of Richmond in the United States, Kai built a career in management of events and technology. Upon moving to Siem Reap in 2014 with a passion for the environment, Kai was struck by the lack of alternatives to single-use plastic. He started his own social enterprise, Cleanbodia, as an innovative response to plastic pollution in Cambodia by introducing biodegradable bags made from cassava. Kai remains an active member of Clean Green Cambodia and GoGreen Cambodia, which promote environmental education and activity in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Cleanbodia was founded in 2015 in response to the plastic pollution problem in Cambodia. To combat the 8,000 plastic bags used every hour in Cambodia, Cleanbodia provides a variety of biodegradable bags to hotels, restaurants, schools, offices, and NGO’s . These bags, made with cassava starch, fully degrade in under 6 years which drastically reduces their impact on the environment compared to traditional plastic which takes hundreds of years for degradation. Cleanbodia was awarded as a finalist for the ASEAN Impact in 2016 and now distributes biodegradable bags to over 200 customers across the country.