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Disabled entrepreneur finds success online

Update: March, 09/2014 - 01:10
Success story: Vo Truc Duyen (on bed) has made many friends and started a business thanks to internet access. Her determination has won the admiration of many young people. — Photos Do Thu

Vo Truc Duyen doesn't let her physical disability keep her from having ambitious dreams. With a new cafe and thriving online fashion business, these dreams are rapidly coming true. Luong Thu Huong reports.

A website of a self-taught disabled designer has become a favourite address for teenagers in the southern province of Can Tho to order custom-designed uniforms, clothes and accessories, as well as pure coffee.

The vivid website is the brainchild of Vo Truc Duyen, 23, who has been paralysed since a young age.

Despite her frail body, she has agile eyes and a charming smile. Duyen's world is in her colourful bed with her computer, which she uses to connect with friends across the country and find work.

Misfortune struck Duyen at age one, when her neighbour stumbled and fell while carrying her. As a result, Duyen was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which paralysed her legs and eight fingers. Since then, she has been unable to sit or stand.

Even though Duyen has to lie still in bed, she has always been passionate about learning. At the age of six, seeing her friends going to school, Duyen asked her parents to let her join them. However, all the schools refused her, so her mother decided to teach her at home. Thanks to her intelligence and diligence, Duyen learned quickly how to read and write.

"At times I felt discouraged, but others' affection for me encouraged me to move on," Duyen says. "I used to dream of using a computer. I thought if I had one, I could learn photoshop and graphics, because I'm interested in designing logos, advertisements and videos.

"My life totally turned a new page when I received a laptop as a gift from a friend in 2007. Before that, my world was so limited, but the laptop opened up a whole new world before my eyes. Studying became much easier, I made more new friends and I found out what my passion is."

It took Duyen much time and effort to learn typing. However, nothing dampened her will, even when all her fingers became swollen. After over a year, Duyen could use the computer effortlessly and came up with the idea of running a business on the internet.

A friend gave her the domain in 2008, when she was looking for a job. At first, she and her friends used the website to run a uniform-printing service. They also started selling fashionable clothes and accessories in 2011. Today, she and her friends run a small shop at her house.

Local teenagers love her unique designs, but she earns even more from the small cafe that she opened last October.

"I nurtured the idea of running a cafe for a long time," Duyen says. "With the help of some friends, I finally opened one. I worked on its design and decorations, which saved considerable expenses. At present, my cafe is the sole agent of Coffee Tree, a producer of fresh, pure Vietnamese coffee, in Can Tho Province."

In addition to developing her business, Duyen plans to spend more time doing charity work. Despite her healthcondition, she remains optimistic about the future.

"I think that life is pleasant if we know how to be satisfied with what we have. When we lose something, we might receive other gifts that are even better," she says.

Duyen's determination and optimism have won the admiration of many other young people.

"She has done many things that even most normal people like me could not do," says Nguyen Huu Thang, a student at Can Tho College and a member of Duyen's design team. "I've learned from her a strong love for life and the importance of working hard and appreciating what you have." — VNS

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