English teaching for ethnic minority English teaching for ethnic minority Sapa, Vietnam Sapa O'Chau Social Enterprise
This volunteer program is an opportunity to engage with the local disadvantaged minority youth of North Vietnam through volunteering as a basic English teacher.

1 Project review of Sapa O'Chau Social Enterprise

Project Details

Award-winning Social Enterprise organizing Trekking, Homestay, Cafe, Hmong Handicraft and Hotel for Community Development.

Many people who visit Sapa become inspired to give something back. With the help of four Australian volunteers, Shu Tan, a young single mother from the Black Hmong tribe, was able to turn her dream of helping her people into a reality. Working together, they funded the first Hmong owned homestay in Sapa and established a socially conscious trekking service. Running on the social enterprise blueprint, Sapa O’Chau put the money earned back into the community through projects such as providing winter clothes to children and improvements to the village schools.

Later, Shu decided to tackle the problem of illiteracy among Sapa’s young tour guides and street vendors, many of whom never had the chance to go to school. With the help of a Norwegian anthropology student, she organized informal English night classes for a small group of enthusiastic youths in a room provided by a local hotel. As these Sapa O’Chau classes grew in popularity, so did the need for more facilities. In the summer of 2010, the Sapa O’Chau boarding facility opened.

Sapa O’Chau Today

Today, Sapa O’Chau runs on the same social enterprise principles on which it was founded: working hard and giving back to Sapa and all ethnic minorities. It is made up of five inter-connected pieces: the boarding facility, the hotel, café, the Hmong handicraft store and the tour operation. These are administered by our dedicated Founder and Director who is in Forbes Vietnam's 2016 30 Under 30. Numerous partners in Sapa and beyond also provide much-needed support.

The roadmap shows Sapa O'Chau beneficiaries and the effects it has on its beneficiaries. The direct beneficiaries are trekking guides, homestay owners, high school students, vocational students, craftswomen, and volunteers. These are driven by the trekking operations, hotel operations, cafe operations and Hmong handicraft workshop. Sapa O'Chau is trying to get ethnic minority high school age students back to school using a holistic approach. When the children attend school, the family will need to hire extra help for the farm. Hence, if Sapa O'Chau creates job opportunities for parents of these children, more children can attend school. These students can have better job opportunities after completing higher education. The land is not as fertile due to the erosion of nutrients as rain washes them down the steep slopes where the crops are cultivated. The land is being divided into smaller and smaller portions as land is handed down from father to sons. What choice do they have?

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Pam Tan
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

Since starting Sapa O'Chau we have helped 10 students to graduate University, educated approximately 30 students with enough English to gain employment as a local tour guide, 25 more students are still studying at different universities around Vietnam and another 55 students currently board free at the Sapa O'chau school where they receive free education and are provided with all necessary items such as meals, toiletries, and clothing.

Additional, we have been able to assist many local people in building a homestay which, provides them with a more sustainable income to support themselves and a foundation towards a better quality of life. 

All of the students we help come from the local disadvantaged minority communities. These students are provided with education and employment opportunities that they otherwise would not be able to access or afford due to their vulnerable circumstances.
Pursued Sustainable Development Goals

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