University of Leicester Lecturer working with British Council to empower women in Vietnam

Posted by ew205 at Jan 22, 2018 09:49 AM |
Academic supports development of sustainable craft industries

Expertise from the University of Leicester School Of Business is being applied to empower women in Vietnam through the development of creative social enterprise and design-led skills for female artisans and designers.

Dr Marta Gasparin, Lecturer in Design and Innovation Management at the University of Leicester School of Business, is working closely with the British Council in Vietnam as part of their Craft and Design Challenge to connect creative practitioners (designers) and social and creative enterprises with female artisans and craft makers’ communities in Vietnam, promoting social innovation, fair and ethical collaborations, and an appreciation of cultural heritage.

Crafting Futures is a British Council global programme supporting the development of sustainable craft industries. With an aim to create new and more inclusive opportunities for women in sustainable and ethical craft-based production, the British Council in Vietnam launched the Craft and Design Challenge in October 2017. 20 young designers and students were selected to develop their craft products and business plan for a VND 150 million (approximately £4,848) seed fund prize.

Craft practices are increasingly endangered in the face of globalisation and rapid economic development. Female artisans, a majority working in the sector, are particularly vulnerable due to lack of knowledge and skills necessary for sustaining their practices or businesses. The combination of traditional craft and contemporary design aims to generate a renewed interest in crafts through creative processes, informed research and storytelling.

Furthermore, developing business and marketing skills is key to improving viable livelihoods. The aim of the British Council is to create more inclusive opportunities for sustainable and ethical craft-based production.

Dr Gasparin’s role in the challenge will be to help mentor and coach the designers as an expert in the field in a series of three professional development workshops in Hanoi. She will help teach the students and designers about how to work with communities in Vietnam at a two week residency programme and she will discuss how they can best collaborate through delivering organised training sessions that will focus on sustainability and value creation.

Dr Gasparin explains further: “I am hopeful that the challenge will have a positive impact in ethnic minority communities in Vietnam. Training the designers will mean that they are then able to transfer their skills as many women in these communities have not been to school. They will be taught basic accountancy. For example, if they are required to provide 20m of material they need to first learn how to count and organise the process of sourcing the material. This challenge will teach them those skills.

“It is a two way learning process, as the designers will learn from these communities how they make their crafts. Influenced by this, they will use modern contemporary design to help create a product that can be sold.”

The Craft and Design Challenge was open to Vietnamese design students (final year under-graduate or post-graduate), young designers and entrepreneurs who either show interest and credibility in craft-based design or already have experience in running projects and/or businesses in craft and design.

A showcase of the craft and design projects/products will be organised for all entries of the challenge. The showcase will be for three weeks, offering an opportunity for participants to present their product designs/prototypes as well as raise funds for their business plans. The showcase is planned for early 2018. The three most successful entries will be selected by the jury panel consisting of experts in the field of craft, design and entrepreneurship.

The three winners will be expected to use their prize fund as a seed fund to implement their newly formulated craft and design development projects. The British Council wishes to continue support to the implementation of these projects after the challenge.

Dr Gasparin added: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project from the University of Leicester School of Business. Dr Martin Quinn and Dr Matthew Higgins have been instrumental in helping me organise the project. The British Council and partners in Vietnam have also been brilliant, helping arrange meetings with the Vietnamese government in Hanoi where we had a chance to discuss the challenge with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism who endorsed the project.”


Share this page:

Older press releases

For press releases issued before 4 October 2010, please visit the old eBulletin site.

Get in touch

T: +44 (0)116 252 2160


The Press Office is open 9.00am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

For general enquiries about the University, contact the main switchboard on +44 (0)116 252 2522.