S2: Henry Le of Imagtor in Vietnam #65

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Henry Le  of Imagtor in Hanoi, Vietnam

Romy interviews Henry Le, co-founder of Imagtor, a professional photo editing service in Vietnam that is employing people with disabilities.  At the end of the episode, listen for another great new song by Detroit artist, Grace Elizabeth Lee!

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Imagtor Staff in Vietnam

anh_nguyen

Henry Le of Imagtor

 

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Introduction

Romy:

Welcome and thanks for tuning in. This is Romy, and I will be your host for another great episode here at Bonfires. You will meet the courageous Henry Le and hear about Imagtor in Vietnam. And, of course, we have a talented Detroit artist. Grace Elizabeth Lee joins us for the second time with her song, Like a Bird so stay tuned until the end!

Before we meet Henry, let's check out what Jentzen came up with for this episode's fun fuel.

Fun Fuel

Jentzen:

Photography is a word derived from the Greek words photos (light) and graphien (to draw).    In 1827 Joseph Niepce created the first photographic image with a camera obscure.     However, Niepce’s photography required 8 hours of sunlight to make and the image would soon fade after appearing.

In 1879 the dry plate was invented and making it possible for handheld cameras to be made.

In 1889 George Eastman created the flexible film roll with made mass producing box cameras a reality.

In 1940 color film was created for the mass producing box cameras.

Over the years, many additions were made to the camera, such as better lenses, the flashlight bulb, and flash powder. Developing into the cameras we see today.

This is Jentzen with your fun fuel for this episode! Enjoy the show!

Romy:

Thank you, Jentzen. Photography, at least as we know it today, isn't very old. Interesting. Even though photography has become easy for all of us to capture, it doesn't always mean that the photos are good. That is why we sometimes need some professional help from teams like Henry's in Vietnam. Let's listen in to my conversation as I am learning about Henry and his company, Imagtor.

Main Interview

Henry:
I am a co-founder of Imagtor it is a new social enterprise from Vietnam which just launched last March. After three month pilot, we actually started in business three months ago. We are providing professional photography editing service to international customers, especially to customers from the United States and Australia. We focus on editing the photography of real estate, portrait grading, fashion and product photography. We are a BBO outsourcing company, so what makes us different from other BBO companies, especially ones from India, is that at Imagtor 80% of our staff, currently we have 20 are with disabilities, so at Imagtor we don't call them employees, but we call them partners. We also have a social mission we use our positive profit which we can say 30% go to the development and activities of commonization for our people with disabilities in Vietnam. Hopefully, we can duplicate with this model to the other countries in the future.

Romy:
Wow, that's a lot and let me repeat that for our listeners. It's professional photo editing and some of the terminology BBO that would be a business to business, or business outsourcing, is more what that stands for right?

Henry:
It is business outsourcing's, yes.

Romy:
So you're doing professional photo editing, and we call it business outsourcing. Most of your staff, 80% of your employees is with physical or some disability, and you're giving away 30% of your real profits to other organizations that help with disabilities in Vietnam. That's amazing.

Henry:
That is correct, thank you.

Romy:
Gosh, so you're newly open, how did you come up with the idea for photo editing?

Henry:
Well first of all Vietnam like according to a statistic, so in Vietnam, we have about more than 10 million people with different type of disabilities. The majority of them are without proper education and jobs, which leave them into a poverty and different type of problem. There also many organizations in Vietnam who are supporting people with disabilities, but again the majority of the organizations are not quite effective supporting the people with disabilities in the community. Due to different reasons and finance is one of the biggest problems for the organizations to sustain, to be sustainable and to be scalable. From this point of view a group of former staff from a local NGO and some social entrepreneurs including me.
We have decided to open a new social business which provides photo editing service. This service is proved to be suitable and fits the best to the people with disabilities, abilities, and this year had we decided that it was the right time to start this business. By people with disabilities, and for people with disabilities and with a sustainable business model. I think it's our story, yes.

Romy:
That's powerful, sometimes it's scary to be one of the first ones to do it, but you inspire others.

Henry:
Thank you yes.

Romy:
What is it like for social enterprise in Vietnam? Some countries we know are very friendly to social enterprises. For some countries, it's a brand new concept. What is it like in Vietnam right now?

Henry:
So social enterprise actually is quite a new terminology for Vietnamese people, and thanks to British Council and also embassies of the America have brought this terminology to Vietnam. Make it popular among business with a social mindset, but we still have a long way to go until an effective and workable legislation for social enterprise in Vietnam. At the moment there are hundreds of social enterprises in Vietnam but only from the last time I check, only two has registered for social enterprise entity.
Yeah, so we actually have a long way to go, long way to go until we have a proper law to support social enterprise in Vietnam. Again also the ecosystem is not ... Although have we received a lot of support from international organizations, the ecosystem for social enterprise in Vietnam stay. It's not a very well viewed so good that a lot of people we are building together, we are working together to believe. To see in the near future that it could be a better eco system for social enterprises in Vietnam, so I think it's a good news actually.

Romy:
Yes, it reminds me some of the most successful places just kind of start, they don't wait for the government or that to start it. They just kind of start it and then once there's a positive effect from it. I mean and quite frankly it didn't start that way here in the US either, there was many businesses doing it, but we didn't call it social enterprise then. They were just doing some good things, hiring some people, or giving some of their profits, but nobody called it that. Then when people recognized a pattern, oh this is just a different kind of business.

Henry:
Yes, I agree with you.

Romy:
Sometimes we don't have to wait for approval, as long as we're not doing something that is against the law or illegal, we're good. You can just do it a different way.

Henry:
Yes, I agree that we cannot quit, we have the action; you cannot quit. It's really [late 00:09:38] to be, yeah, wait for something happen yes.

Romy:
Yeah, right.

Henry:
Action first and something good will follow, I always believe this.

Romy:
The sign of a leader I say, take action first and see what happens. Don't be afraid.

Henry:
Yeah, exactly, yes actually.

Romy:
Yeah, well very good. What are the big plans for your company?

Henry:
The good news is we had just secured a small fund like $40,000 from a Korean fund, and also we have just signed a contract with a big provider. I think for next year we're going to be something very different happening to us in a positive way.

Romy:
You already have quite a few employees. How many employees do you have right now?

Henry:
Right now we have 20 employees and staffs, but we plan to double our employees next year. January and February we have to be that big at the time.

Romy:
Well, that's incredible. How would the listeners reach you? Would mind giving us your website or any social media.

Henry:
Yes, you can reach us at www.imagtor.com, or our social media, yes we have social media presence of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even on YouTube yes.

Romy:
Yes, I know there's a little video on your website that I watched.

Henry:
Yes, thank you.

Romy:
It's really good; you get a feel for it. Then tell me about the customers, what's the process of a customer signing up for you from the United States if they wanted some professional photo editing. What would their first step be?

Henry:
For United States market we look for the professional photographer in every state and for that, so the majority of our customers from the America's are real estate photographers. They shoot photo's at day, and they send the raw picture, to import to us in the evening and then we process the orders. Then deliver it to them, and the next morning when they wake up, they already have a down folder waiting for them to show to their customers. It's the process here.

Romy:
It's very convenient for this type of work that you're exactly, almost 12 hours ahead of us, in the US when it's our evening; it's your daytime, so that's very convenient for quick photo editing.

Henry:
Yeah, less than 12 hours.

Romy:
Real estate, wedding, things that you want, really nice pictures on catalogs that type of thing right?

Henry:
Yes.

Romy:
Well, we'll say goodbye, for now, we'll make sure to put all your links in the podcast. Henry, we just wish you the best, and it's so exciting to hear what you're doing, and we'll check back with you in the future.

Henry:
Thank you very much, Romy, and please keep in touch.

Closing Remarks

Romy:
A big thanks to Henry. Henry, we want to encourage you to keep going and get the word out about your business. If you are someone who could use the photo-editing services or know someone you could refer, please do so. We are a social enterprise family around here connected all around the globe. Let's keep sharing the love and helping each other.

Speaking of sharing the love, I am happy to leave you with the sweet sounds of Grace Elizabeth Lee. She joins us for the second time with her song, Like A Bird.

Until next time, keep your bonfires of social enterprise burning everyone!

End of Transcript

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