Uncle Ho’s Soldier, Hero of Labor, Entrepreneur Le Van Kiem Affirming Business Vision and Conscience

11:56:40 AM | 24/4/2019

For nearly four decades doing business, businessman Le Van Kiem has always taken the lead in perusing the renovations launched by the Party and State, and was awarded the title of Labor Hero in the renovation period in 2008. Starting from scratch, now Le Van Kiem's family has nearly 10 subsidiaries operating in many areas of real estate, tourism, hospitality, construction and mining in Vietnam and Laos. He is currently the Chairman of Vietnam Veteran Entrepreneurs Association (term 2017 - 2022).

Keen to take on new challenges

Once I talked with Mr. Le Van Kiem at the break time of the "Prime Minister's Meeting 2016" conference held at the Hall of the Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City, and I was impressed by his gentle and warm voice. He looked more like a village teacher rather than a businessman, Chairman of the KN Group and Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company famous for domestic business activities and was the first Vietnamese entrepreneur to build a special economic zone in Lao PDR.

With his face and figure gentle, agile, youthful, I don't think he has passed the threshold of old age. It can be said that his path to success can be enough to write a thick novel. Journey from a veteran to an entrepreneur of Labor Hero Le Van Kiem is a journey of sweat and tears, wisdom, mind and desire to enrich his homeland.

He was born in 1945 in Thua Thien Hue, in a family with a revolutionary tradition. From a young age, he was trained in humility, altruism of a soldier of Uncle Ho to build his homeland and protect the country. He was among the soldiers who came to take over Ho Chi Minh City on April 30, 1975. Spending the days on Truong Son trail, facing death, when returning to normal life, veteran Le Van Kiem was even more eager to commit himself to a new front: hunger eradication, poverty reduction, anti-backward to enrich the homeland.

With that desire, he was one of the Vietnamese entrepreneurs at the forefront of the State's economic opening in the 1980s and experienced many ups and downs of the two major economic crises during nearly four decades. Starting in 1978, he and his family started from scratch, with his only asset being just an old Honda motorbike worth a tael of gold. With the will and vision, he and his family managed to succeed in producing animal feed, non-fading pigments, plastic beads extracted from rubber, and more. And his great success was developing his company, Huy Hoang Garment, into the largest enterprise in the garment industry at that time. Like many other enterprises in the early stage of the market economy, the 1997 economic crisis greatly affected the national economy, in which Huy Hoang Company also suffered many risks, even standing on the verge of bankruptcy. However, with the talents and bravery of the veteran who never knows how to step back from difficulties, Mr. Le Van Kiem initiated many bold approaches to maintain and develop his brand in the market.

Creating a world-class brand

Until now, the name of Le Van Kiem is associated with famous brand: Golf Long Thanh. He is Chairman of Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company in Dong Nai province. Long Thanh Golf Course is the first golf course designed by Vietnamese people and operated according to international 5-star standard with 18-hole hill course; 18-hole lake course and equipped with an international quality lighting system serving golfers at night.

Long Thanh Golf was voted the most beautiful and best golf course in Vietnam in 2007. It has a system of luxurious services and facilities, serving nearly 1,000 members, of whom more than 60% come from Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore, China, and Thailand.

In the late 1990s, in response to the policy of stepping up the economic restructuring, developing innovative models throughout the provinces and cities nationwide, Dong Nai province turned hundreds of thousands of hectares of barren, uncultivated and inefficient hilly land into local socio-economic growth momentum. With the belief and bravery, realizing the trend of the era, Mr. Le Van Kiem was confident to initiate a completely new field of business: Golf business. Long Thanh Golf Course was started in 2001, located in the southern economic triangle, in Tan Mai village, Phuoc Tan commune, and Bien Hoa city. Long Thanh Golf covers an area of 350ha on a total area of 1,200ha. A swampy land has now become an ideal destination for domestic and foreign tourists and brought a new look to the homeland.

The company also invests in the construction of the project of urban sports eco-tourism resort featured by high-class villas, supermarkets, school system, international hospital, international standard resort, marina, and eco-tourism area.

Developing new development model in Laos

Long Thanh - Vientiane Special Economic Zone is the first project of Vietnamese businessmen investing in Laos, licensed by the Lao Government in January 2012. The establishment of this Special Economic Zone has opened a new development model for Laos.

Talking about the reason why he boldly invested in Laos, despite its long payback prospect, Mr. Le Van Kiem said, for a long time, he has carried out many voluntary activities to help Lao people and veterans. As Chairman of the Vietnam Veteran Entrepreneurs Association, when he was encouraged by Lao leaders, he decided to make investment in this country to develop a special relationship between the two countries. He confided that the construction of the special zone also shows the his close affection to the Laotian people since he joined the battle on the Laos battlefield during the war years. The Lao people helped the Vietnamese soldiers open the Tay Truong Son trail to reduce casualties for the soldiers during the war.

The Long Thanh - Vientiane Special Economic Zone was the largest special economic zone in Vientiane and was also the largest foreign investment project in Laos at that time. This special economic zone includes a 5-star hotel, a 36-hole golf course, luxury villas, schools, an international hospital, trade centers and resorts covering a total area of over 557 hectares.

Entrepreneur Le Van Kiem affirmed that he will focus his efforts to build Long Thanh-Vientiane Special Economic Zone into a special economic zone model, creating jobs for local people, contributing to fostering friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos are more and more stable by their specific and practical jobs.

A heart filled with love

With the philosophy of paying it foward, over the years, Labor Hero Le Van Kiem and his partner, Ms. Tran Cam Nhung and his family have donated VND900 billion to many charity programs. He and his family have brought happiness to many disadvantaged families and children through such activities as: sponsoring heart surgery to save more than 50 children with congenital heart disease, sponsoring eye surgery for over 7,000 poor blind people; supporting and helping people suffering from natural disasters; funding orphans and disabled people; donating more than 350 houses, taking care of the lives of 20 heroic Vietnamese mothers and giving hundreds of savings books to other heroic mothers; supporting learning promotion funds, funds for the poor, and helping build schools and clinics for poor localities.

Entrepreneur Le Van Kiem is also a sponsor of traditional education programs through publishing books of gratitude to martyrs who sacrificed for the independence of the Fatherland. He has also participated in supporting dozens of billions of dongs upgrading many martyrs’ cemeteries. From 2005 up to now, Long Thanh Golf has actively participated in volunteer activities abroad such as in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Cuba, and Japan.

With his achievements in business and community activities, Mr. Le Van Kiem has been honored with many noble titles, including "Outstanding Entrepreneur" elected by Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and directly awarded the Thanh Giong Cup by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on October 11, 2016; "Outstanding entrepreneur in the process of National Socio-economic Development in 2017";

"Outstanding Vietnamese entrepreneur for economic development of Southeast Asian countries in 2017" voted by World Economic Forum on ASEAN; " World record of moral values and humanities, successful founder and initiator of the largest charity golf tournament" recognized by the World Creativity Science Academy (WCSA) in 2017, and many other noble titles.

Van Luong