Last updated: Thursday, January 24, 2019


TH Group President Thai Huong: “The most important is doing something worthwhile for the community”

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Being presented a lot of national and international awards in business such as Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen (2015 and 2016), Vietnam’s 20 Power Women, ASEAN Outstanding Businesswomen, Women Entrepreneur of Ho Chi Minh Era and most recently Vietnam’s 50 Power Women in March 2017, Madam Thai Huong, President of the Board of Directors of TH Group, is very active in social security programmes like milk for students programme and a lot of goodwill charity programmes for the poor, families with martyrs and Vietnamese heroic mothers. In an interview granted to Vietnam Business Forum, she said “My business philosophy is rooted from the mother's heart-nourishing physical and mental health with all the heart of a mother. And, the story of TH Group begins…” Le Hien reports.

You have said that the advent of TH true MILK is a predestination. How did this predestination start?
When I was watching TV in 2008, I was extremely shocked by the news on China's melamine-contaminated milk crisis, causing millions of children to suffer kidneys bleeding. Hearing that news, as a mother of three children, my heart broke. At that time, my children were drinking imported milk. How to give my children and Vietnamese children in general with safe, organic milk questioned me and goaded me to find the answer. And, TH true MILK came as a result. Besides, I thought that the economy was spending a huge amount of foreign currencies to import powdered milk. If we could produce organic fresh milk, we could help reduce trade deficit and save foreign currencies for the country.

With that thinking, TH sent a proposal to the Government and the People's Committee of Nghe An Province for hiring land to open dairy farms, organic vegetables in Nghia Dan district in the west of Nghe An province. Started September 2008, the project’s investment is US$1.2 billion through 2020. TH Group launched first organic TH true MILK products onto the market within 18 months from the date of project formation. At his visit to TH Group, the late President of Israel Shimon Peres commented that “I have travelled to 52 countries in the world but the dairy project of TH Group has impressed me most. The TH true MILK project initiated the clean milk revolution in Vietnam and in the region.” He said to Madam Thai Huong without any hesitation that “As soon as I shake your hands, I feel a strong source of energy that runs in your body. You have made a clean milk revolution in Vietnam.”

Driven by TH Group, the output of made-in-Vietnam fresh milk increased rapidly. Consumers gradually shifted from the use of powdered milk (with many nutrients lost in the process of two heat treatments) to the use of totally fresh milk with natural nutrients intact. In fact, the presence of TH forced dairy processors to compete for quality and pay more attention to dairy farming to develop raw milk for production. The ratio of milk processed from pure fresh milk rose from 8 per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2015.
With a vision, humanistic mission and business orientation “for community health”, TH Group has moved towards the world class. Currently, TH Group has built up the TH True MILK brand for 55 fresh dairy products at present and for new products in the future. Currently, TH true MILK brand is being protected in almost 60 countries, including Japan, the United States, Singapore and the European Union.

Many products made by TH Group have been certified organic by European and American standards authorities. Do you have anything to tell about this?
Vietnam is an agricultural country but we are not confident in what we make or what we eat. The society is so much concerned about food safety. Dirty food is among reasons resulting in the growing occurrence of food poisoning and the increased incidence of cancer patients. We want to engage our efforts to build international food standards and build trust in the organic food market in Vietnam. Using organic products is a global consumer trend. Therefore, we have pioneered organic production according to European and US standards to bring best products to consumers. On December 17, 2015, Control Union granted USDA-NOP and EC 834/2007 organic certificates for 37 types of FVF fresh vegetables and five types of TH Herbals organic medicinal herbs. And now, we have built a European-standard organic dairy farm and prepared for the launch of TH true MILK organic fresh milk.

Thus, over the past six years, TH Group has pioneered on the path of producing organic fresh milk “from green pasture to a cup of clean milk”. Organic fresh milk is a higher step in the progress towards a safe, environment-friendly product.

TH recently inaugurated the TH School system and initiated a fruit and vegetable project in Thai Binh province. Is there any similarity from making TH true MILK organic milk to making agricultural products and then opening schools?
What motivated me to set up TH School is I am a mother of two children studying abroad. I followed my children to the countries where they studied and I understood every thinking of a mother for her children when she has to part her children from their valuable childhood to enjoy the best education background. Hence, I wish and dedicate to build a school for children who are fully educated and developed in their homeland.

In fact, developing organic milk, agricultural products or education is serving the most essential needs of human in the end and for me nourishing the physical and mental health of Vietnamese people. The school is my wish of humanity-a mother who always wants to do her best for her children to fully grow up in the homeland. That is the responsible aspiration of a Vietnamese patriot who wants to bring true happiness to children by endowing them with advanced education of the world and the elite of Vietnamese education.

My aspiration is to bring world-class education to Vietnam, to create human resources of international quality and to let our children not be parted from their parents to study abroad. Therefore, the school combines advanced international training programmes such as IPC, IMYC, IGCSE and AS&A Level with the essence of Vietnamese education. Graduated students will hold international certificates, right in Vietnam.

TH Group has recently paved the way for an inclusive healthcare project. Is this a testament to the business philosophy for community?
In the framework the State visit to Vietnam from March 19 to 25, 2013, Israeli President Reuven Ruvi Rivlin met with TH Group leaders. On this occasion, we had the honour to welcome the President and sign a memorandum of understanding on the carrying out of the High-Tech Health Care Project in Hanoi under the witness of the President.

Our biggest goal in this project is to provide comprehensive healthcare for people, from preventative care to early diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation through quality health care services. Therefore, this project will set up modern medical facilities that focus on mental, intelligent and physical health services for people. The medical complex is not only a place of comfortable treatment but also a destination of public healthcare in general. Its ultimate goal and core value that I pursue is for community health.

From that goal, the project is designed with three main functional divisions: Hospital/Electronic centre designed to perform early diagnostics using electronic chips, track some biological indicators and health of patients to early diagnose and control diseases, especially some incurable diseases; a 5-star general hospital designed to apply the world's most advanced medical equipment, technology, and treatment methods, an ideal place to cure patients comprehensively, not only their life but also their livelihood; and nursing and rehabilitation centre designed to provide rehabilitation for patients in a nature-based environment, completely different from the conventional hospital environment, to help patients with psychological comforts and quick physical recovery. Caring and nutrition regimes at the centre are scientifically developed under the guidance of Japanese experts in combination with the essence of modern medicine and traditional medicine.

Along with that, the project will also promote the establishment of the Centre for Medical and Pharmaceutical Research and Development. The centre has an important task of continually researching and updating knowledge, technology and achievements in the pharmaceutical industry around the world, developing and applying high quality products and services in the country, researching and developing traditional herbal medicine for prevention, treatment and nursing at the medical complex. Currently, the nearly 40-ha project has been licensed by Hanoi People's Committee.

How can you balance family and societal affairs when you manage banking and financial activities, dairy business, schooling affairs and others at the same time? What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?
When a woman is an entrepreneur, she must do two very heavy tasks at the same time: family and career. When doing business, women have their own advantages as they know exactly what a family needs and what their children need. When they make a product, if they spend all their heart and soul on that product in the same way as they do for their children, they will reap success with such product. Feminism is also counted as an advantage as they bring the mother's heart and humanity into their products. Humanity-driven products for health and sustainability based on high-tech applications always have their own place. Most importantly, they must dare to believe and to love what they have chosen.


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