Dao Thi Lang's journey as an agripreneur in Floriculture
Dao Thi Lang is an agripreneur. She runs a successful flower growing business in Long An Province, Vietnam. She began her business in 2007, after a long career as a teacher. She started with just a couple of different varieties. Today, with a relatively small production area of ~7000 square meters, she produces three to four varieties. Each week, she supplies between 5 to 10,000 pots of flowers to the wholesalers in the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.
Her family has a long history of agricultural production and growing up she was able to get lots of hands-on experience under her parents’ guidance. At the time, however, her calling lay elsewhere, and she went on to become a primary school teacher – a job she held for over 35 years.
Her love for flowers never left her and she continued to learn about floriculture during her time as a teacher. She was happy to learn from any sources she could find, from newspapers and books to plant fairs and exhibitions. These events gave her access to professionals and scientists that could teach her about more modern techniques. As she approached retirement age, she had a difficult decision to make – continue on the safe path as a teacher or risk her livelihood and follow her passion. Fortunately, her family was very supportive – both financially and mentally. So, she quit her teaching job and started her flower business.
She started producing in limited quantities. Her prices were low as the varieties she was growing weren’t in high demand. Her costs were high, too, as she spent a lot on flowerpots and seedlings. Realizing this was not a sustainable model, she visited the wholesale markets in Ho Chi Minh to understand market trends, to source cheaper suppliers and to find customers willing to pay higher prices.
This approach was so successful she was faced with a new challenge – overcoming the labor shortages that came with a significant increase in production. Realizing she wasn’t managing the process properly, she met with other growers to understand how they managed and operated their manufacturing facilities. With this new knowledge she built a new management approach that suited her better, and she now manages production remotely.
Today, she hopes her story can be an inspiration for other Vietnamese women. She says, “Even if we cannot continue our current job or cannot make a living, remember that Vietnamese people have survived for generations by farming. Even a small area can generate income. Agriculture isn’t all about heavy-lifting, many tasks – such as growing flowers – are perfect for women.”