In May 2017, GIFT's Global Leaders Programme (GLP) brought together leaders from Asia and Europe to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with the health and well-being of factory workers across Vietnam. In collaboration with iCare Benefits (iCB), a successful social enterprise based out of Vietnam, GLP participants applied their business acumen and leadership skills to the development of a business plan to support iCB's expansion into healthcare and well-being services to reach factory workers, iCB members and their families.

The GLP gave me a completely different view of the Asia and unleashed my curiosity for finding innovative ways to contribute to the society by drilling into the fundamental problems the world is facing now.

Justina Yim | Engineer | China Light & Power (CLP)

The GLP is a truly great experience unlike other ‘traditional’ leadership courses. It challenges your mainstream views and learning while at the same time of raising your self-awareness and character development. A journey that stretches you to think of what leadership needs to be in the 21st century in order to achieve business results in today and tomorrow's business climate.

Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim | Director, Marketing Communication & Customer Experience | IDS Medical Systems Group

The GLP gave me valuable insights on the power of empathy and communication in multi-cultural teams, whilst continuously reflecting upon yourself and challenging the established narrative. 

Marcel La Croix | Legal Counsel Asia-Pacific | Robeco


Vietnam is the 9th most populous Asian country with an estimated population of 94.4 million. The government implement radical economic and political reforms under the Doi Moi in 1986, spurring rapid economic growth and transforming Vietnam from a war-torn country affected by high rates to of poverty to an economic powerhouse at the heart of the ASEAN region. The country's achievements are significant; the poverty rate dropped from over 50% in the early 1990s to 3% today.

With booming manufacturing, information technology and high-tech industries, the country is a fast-growing economy with resilient export oriented manufacturing remaining as a major contributor.


Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam's largest city. Formerly known as Saigon, the city has a population close to 8.5 million people and contributes to 20.2% of Vietnam's GDP.


GRAHAM BARKUS  Partner & Head of Leadership Advisory, Hofer Tan & Partners

Partner & Head of Leadership Advisory
Hofer Tan & Partners

Senior Advisor for a global private equity firm & Board Advisor for a leading life insurance company in Indonesia


Asia Editor
TIME International


In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is second in terms of its manufacturing sector growth. With approximately 6,000 enterprises in the textile and garment sector, the industry employs over two million employees, while related businesses employ an additional one million workers.

Although the Vietnamese government has made great efforts to enact stronger labour protection for workers in the global supply chain, an analysis by Better Work Vietnam found non-compliance rates of at least 70% on six out of eight compliance points for Occupational Safety and Health, specifically mentioning the provision of health services and first aid as key areas requiring further consideration.

Participants travelled to Cu Chi district, south of Vietnam to talk to factory workers and their families about their lifestyle, working conditions, their interaction with Vietnam's healthcare sector and their use of the iCB employee benefits platform.


Through candid sharing and discussions, workers explained that the Vietnamese government meets the population's basic healthcare needs but cited the lack of quality and efficiency in public medical care as a key area of concern.


Many of the workers live within close proximity to the factory, with their relatives. During the experiential component of the programme, participants visited the homes of the factory workers to gain further insights into their livelihoods and their families' basic necessities.

iCare Benefits - HeALthy Living BUSINESS

iCare Benefits provides an innovative platform for millions of workers to access essential products and services through affordable financing solutions. Its main business focus to date has been the provision of consumer and household goods through the Comfort Living pillar. 

The development of iCB's Healthy Living pillar would provide access to essential healthcare products and medical services to workers and their families. This presents iCB with a great opportunity to grow its offerings and member-base whilst contributing to the improved profitability of factories and to the provision of an important basic need for those at the base of the pyramid. 



The GLP uses real-world field projects to hone the practical skills needed to manage diverse teams in unfamiliar situations. Through meetings with government, community and business leaders, and through frank and open discussions, participants learn to navigate conflicting and contradictory views to transform concepts and theories into realities on the ground.

Every Global Leaders Programme culminates with a public forum, during which participants present the highlights of their business model to an audience of local community and business leaders, government officials, representatives from NGOs and international agencies, and students.

Below are a few slides from the recommendations presented during the public forum.

The business model ideas were discussed amongst a panel attended by: 

For more information about the 2017 Vietnam Global Leaders Programme, or about the Global Leaders Programme in general,
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