Making your own (safety) net in Danang
Vietnam ranks near the top in countries where citizens are “self-employed”; topping 40 percent.
The term can have many connotations, ranging from the entrepreneurial CEO who has created the rare non-government connected business to the woman with a small griddle making ban xeo or your local pho salesperson or shoe shine boy.
No one can fault the Vietnamese spirit for entrepreneurship or their work ethic, putting in long hours, attracting customers, ordering supplies, and dealing with the myriad waiting hands that permeate officaldom in the country.
There is a double edged sword, of course, to this spirit of self-employment. The country lacks any social safety network. No retirement funds, social security or much else in security other than what you earn, save, invest and the age-old support of family and loved ones.
Not benefiting from insider deals, inherited wealth, or other advantages, many Vietnamese work hard, owning the little shops and stands that are the foundation of the country.
I rarely praise individual enterprises (that is not true – everyone who reads this blog or knows my tastes in Vietnam can recognize my fondness for Kim’s for hair washing or Bo Tung Xeo for barbequed beef). But I wanted to recognize a little shop – one without a facebook page or trip advisor listing – that I have stopped in at for over a decade in visiting working in Danang. It is in the shadows of the pricy Furama Hotel and Pullman on hotel row.Shop Tram at 17 Duong Truong Sa Street – the road that winds along the East Sea for miles. . But the place is known mostly as where Dong – Van – and Loan are – and has been a way station for tourists tired of inflated prices and where savvy locals have discovered.
One of their cards tout “Marble Souvenirs, Whole Sale and Retail, the Souvenirs”. A second card proffers “Beer-Wine-Cakes” along with “Laundry. Washing Machine. Motobike. Car Forrent” and a 3rd touts “foot massage”. Everything the weary, harried traveler needs – safe, clean, affordable, legit. No assignment is impossible for them. Motorbike tour – check. Need an apartment or a cook – check. Or just need a place to rest, have a cold drink and learn about life in Danang – this is the place.
These are Danang Women,from Marble Mountain, trying to get by, making a dong or two and enjoying the experience, despite the challenge as shops like this one vanishes, under the onslaught of mega hotels and casinos, fueled by land speculation.
Here at Shop Tram, Vietnamese self employment is not a statistic but a human face – 3 of them.
So – go there!