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A woman’s world

Released at: 08:25, 26/11/2017

A woman’s world

Photo: Viet Tuan

One startup has done very well by focusing on providing employment opportunities to only women.

by Hai Van

It was early July, and Vietnam’s startup community were discussing startups providing jobs specifically for women, when Canavi received investment from ESP Capital after 18 months in operation. The Singapore investment fund focuses on startups, and provides investment ranging from $50,000 and $300,000. 

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nam, CEO of ESP, told VET he believes the two share similar business strategies. Canavi’s CEO, Mr. Nguyen Hoang Hai, was honored by Forbes as one of three excellent young Vietnamese businessmen under 30 in Asia this year. It may appear that Canavi’s success has come easily, but Mr. Hai had many barriers to overcome to reach even initial success.

Only for women

“Canavi” stands for “Career Navigation”. When Mr. Hai and his colleagues went to Ho Chi Minh City to expand the market for VIVI Digital, an advertising video production company he co-founded, they had to cope with difficulties finding actors and models that could work part-time. The idea of setting up Canavi.com, a site for recruiting women in jobs like promotion girls (PGs), models, MCs, assistants, and secretaries began to take root. 

The four co-founders of Canavi are Mr. Hai, Mr. Le Thanh Cong, former General Director of webBNC.net, Mr. Vo Duy Tuan, and Mr. Tran Kim Hieu. The startup originally had fairly small goals, focusing on filling certain jobs, but the turning point came when it invited Mr. Nguyen Manh Dung, Investment Director at CyberAgent Ventures in Vietnam and Thailand, to act as mentor and advisor. Mr. Dung set a broader vision for Canavi: helping women find interesting employment and embark on careers. 

Canavi now fills full-time and part-time vacancies in a wide range of industries such as retail and hospitality, as well as specialist jobs in sales, marketing, accounting, and human resources. It’s a meaningful endeavor, as women in Asia can find it difficult to find worthwhile employment, regardless of their talent or experience. In its two years, it’s taken more than 20,000 applications and about 2,000 companies regularly post recruitment ads, such as Pizza4P’s, Juno Women’s Shoes, DeliveryNow.vn, and Vinasun.

Think differently, act differently 

Like many startups, Canavi faced issues in aiming at a niche market: women. Mr. Hai remembers the early days, when it was hard to win the trust of female candidates. Many posted warnings on Facebook. Within six months, though, the startup began to secure the belief and trust of candidates once it was clear it was actually finding jobs for women. 

Ms. Moc Van, General Director of MVS Media, said that Canavi helped her company save a great deal of time when it needed to fill jobs. “Though the early candidates weren’t as professional as we’d hoped, they have improved significantly and we have many options in finding PGs and MCs.”

Canavi boasts a quality technology system with professional staff making sure it runs smoothly. All applicants have profiles, with feedback and assessments from previous employers. The data it presents helps both candidates and employers understand each other better and identify appropriate opportunities, and when job announcements are made all potential candidates are notified, which is useful when an employer is seeking large numbers of workers. 

Canavi was careful in studying potential investors. “We have received about $300,000 in investment from ESP Capital and angel investors,” Mr. Hai said. “We will spend it on recruitment efforts and improving our website.” It will also boost its advertisement campaigns to attract more new candidates and employers.       

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