AVPN Global Conference 2023 | 20 - 22 June 2023


Gender Lens Investing – Driving Value for Investors in Vietnam

By Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)


Reverie Hotel, 22 – 36 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Dist. 1, HCMC


Online and Vietnam

Date & time

07 April 2021



07 April 2021


About this event

An AVPN Hosted Event in Collaboration with
AusCham and AmCham Vietnam

Register for In-Person Event (Vietnam)

Register for Virtual Event

Recent research has shown that there is an increasing amount of capital available for funds with a gender lens, that gender-balanced funds are outperforming their peers and that gender balanced portfolio companies are receiving increased valuations. Gender-lens investing is gaining traction in the region and is a key strategy for PE/VC firms looking to support a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It is with this backdrop that AVPN, a pan-Asian network for social investors, with support from Investing in Women, an Australian government programme, has launched a series of events around Southeast Asia that will highlight the importance of gender lens investing for building resilience in the region following the COVID-19 Pandemic. AVPN is partnering with AusCham Vietnam and AmCham Vietnam to host the latest installment of this series in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss how gender can drive value for investors in Vietnam, from the perspectives of private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) investors.

The session is open to board and management level. It will open with a presentation of IFC’s recent report ‘Moving Toward Gender Balance in Private Equity and Venture Capital’ and will be followed by a panel from leading PE/VC funds in Vietnam. Panelists will discuss why and how they incorporate gender considerations into their investment processes, portfolios and teams and how this has impacted their funds’ performance, be it through increased returns, better risk management, or access to new sources of capital. These fund managers will share their ‘aha’ moments when they realised the benefits of using a gender lens and provide actionable advice for others to follow suit.



Julianne Cowley
Australian Consul-General,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ms Cowley is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Assistant Secretary, Health Policy Branch. She has previously served as Assistant Secretary, Staff and Welfare Development Branch, DFAT; Assistant Director General, People Policy and Planning Branch AusAID; Assistant Director General Security Branch, AusAID; and Departmental Liaison Officer, Office of the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance.

Ms Cowley holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland; a Bachelor of Communication and a Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Canberra.

Kyle Kelhofer
Country Manager,
International Finance Corporation

Kyle Kelhofer has been the IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, based in Dhaka, since February 2011. Previously, he was based in Accra Ghana as the IFC Financial Sector Lead for Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

Since joining IFC in 1998, Kyle has served in IFC functions and efforts including: financial markets investments, IFC/IDA pilot MSME finance program for Africa, pilot subnational finance program, infrastructure finance, interim country manager Mekong Region, corporate strategy, and operations evaluation. Before joining IFC, he worked at the World Bank in the chief economists office for Latin America, operation’s policy department, and the managing director’s office. Prior to this, Kyle worked for Ernst & Young in California, focusing on venture capital and high technology finance.

An American national, Kyle was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He holds an AB in Math from Dartmouth College, and an MA in International Economics and Finance from the University of California Santa Barbara.

Nguyen Thi Minh Giang
Partner of Talent and Culture,
Mekong Capital

Minh Giang grew up in the land of sun and wind in Central Vietnam: Quang Ngai, where she nurtured her personalities of hardworking, tolerant, and always optimistic in the face of life’s challenges.

Moving to Ho Chi Minh City, Minh Giang soon encountered the turning point of her life when she joined Navigos Group and spent the next three years as a Senior Job Recruiter. She gradually flourished her enthusiasm and passion for connecting teams so she actively participated in “Building Corporate Culture” activities and events as part of the Culture Committee at Navigos.

Years at Navigos had shaped Minh Giang’s determination to develop herself as an ‘Internal HR Specialist’. And the second turning point of her life was when she decided to join the Mekong Capital team in 2010 for a simple reason: Mekong staff had their laptops, and their culture was unique, which sometimes could even be considered ‘weird’ compared to other companies.

During the next 10+ years, step-by-step, Minh Giang relentlessly transformed and ‘expanded’ herself, her experience, and her leadership by continuously generating new initiatives to add value to the Mekong Capital team and the companies in their portfolio. Under her leadership, the Talent and Culture (T&C) team is at the core for cultivating the best Employee Experience from recruiting, training, and developing, to team building activities and building corporate culture, which resulted in Mekong Capital being voted as one of the Best Places to Work in Asia in 2019.

Besides that, the T&C team is also involved in Mekong Capital’s value-creation framework, Vision Driven Investing, at our investee companies. For example, 80% of senior staff for companies in the Mekong Enterprise Fund III were recruited with the help of T&C. Moreover, the team directly organized training and workshops to help senior staff develop personal leadership and building trust within teams by transforming their communications. As a coach, Minh Giang works closely with our investee companies to unlock their potential for Corporate Culture Transformation.

Minh Giang’s transformation journey reflects her incredible contributions to the success of Mekong Capital over the last 10 years and who she is being as a living example of the core values that Mekong Capital pursues. She is now Mekong Capital’s Partner of Talent and Culture and a member of the Management Committee.

Tu Ngo
General Partner,
Touchstone Partners

Tu believes everyone has an inner potential but opportunities are not equally distributed, hence as a startup founder, VC investor and community builder, she wants to build solutions to enable especially young people, entrepreneurs and women to grow their skillsets and lead their own lives. She’s now the Chairwoman of YOLA, a leading online-offline English education services company in Vietnam and the founding General Partner of Touchstone Partners, an early-stage VC fund focusing in Vietnam and integrating ESG principles.

In 2009, right after graduating from Stanford University with a B.A. in Public Policy, she came back to Vietnam to start YOLA, now a leading education company providing English and critical thinking skills training to 30,000+ K-12 students in Vietnam both online and offline and employing over 1,000 staff and collaborators. After finishing her MBA at INSEAD in 2014, on a quest to apply technology to education, she co-launched ELSA in 2015, an AI coach for English pronunciation with over 5 mil users. In 2020, ELSA was selected as Honoree of Fast Company’s World-Changing Ideas in the AI and Data category.

Tu is a well-known leader among Vietnamese youth. She co-founded VietAbroader in 2005, the first online community with 20,000+ members helping Vietnamese students gain information to apply for U.S. college scholarships and financial aid. She was also Co-President of Southeast Asian Leadership Network (SEALNet) in 2007 and 2008, a non-profit equipping young leaders in Southeast Asia with service leadership skills and mentorship to start their own community projects. In 2015, Forbes Vietnam selected Tu as one of the first Forbes 30 Under 30 of the country. As a member of the inaugural cohort of the Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program, Tu is passionate about lessening the inequality gap through technology and values-based leadership transformation in the region.

In 2020, Tu spearheaded Project Breath, providing ventilators and N95 masks to COVID hospitals in Vietnam, serving as an information bridge connecting government institutions, private donors, hospitals, volunteers and makers groups for collaboration.

Eddie Thai
General Partner,
500 Startups Vietnam

Eddie is a believer in the power of entrepreneurship to unlock human potential and in the possibilities of technology to transform how humans live, work, play, and love.

Eddie is a partner with 500 Startups, a global early stage VC firm and ecosystem-builder headquartered in Silicon Valley. He is focused on investing in Vietnam’s next great tech startups as well as supporting 500 Startups’ offerings in ecosystem development. His efforts have been covered by Bloomberg, BBC, the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and various regional outlets.

Prior to 500 Startups, he had experience in strategy and finance for companies & clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 corporations, primarily in the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors but also financial services, manufacturing, and energy. He received degrees from Harvard University and Yale University, previously served on the global Board of Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association, and currently serves on the global Yale Alumni Association Assembly.

He frequently speaks, advises, and mentors on topics such as venture capital investing, fundraising, startup ecosystem development, corporate innovation, education, and career development.


Shuyin Tang
Patamar Capital

Shuyin is a Partner at Patamar Capital, a venture capital firm that targets risk commensurate returns for its investors while also seeking to unlock better economic opportunities for Asia’s low income communities.

Shuyin is responsible for Patamar’s investing activities in the Mekong region and has led investments into education, FinTech, employee benefits and healthcare companies.

She spearheads Patamar’s gender lens investing efforts, including managing one of the first gender lens investing funds in Southeast Asia, the Investing in Women Fund.

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