Viet Nam News
by Thiên Hương
“You may not be tall, but others have to look up to see you.” The saying seems to apply aptly to Đinh Thị Lý, an IT engineer based in HCM City.
At 27, the woman is just 93cm high and weighs 30kg. She finds it hard to walk distances of more than 500m. However, she sits in front of a computer and builds trademarks for hundreds of enterprises within and outside the country through effective marketing strategies.
She started earning when she was a student. Now, she is the breadwinner for her family. She owns three plots of land in HCM City and is supporting her parents by building a house in her hometown, the northern province of Hải Dương, which would have been impossible for her parents without her help.
“I have four daughters, but Lý was not as lucky as the others. Her health was poor when she was young, and she did not grow up naturally,” said Lý’s mother, Nguyễn Thị Quyết.
Lý looked like any other normal baby when she was born, but she could not walk until she was three.
When she was eight, her upper body grew as normal girls, but her legs did not grow. Doctors said she was not growing tall owing to a lack of hormones, which cannot be cured.
“My husband and I are farmers, so we thought that she was weak, that’s all,” her mother said.
The poor couple had no money for their child, just love. Every day her father carried her on his rusty bike to and from school.
She studied like any other child. After graduating from high school she decided to register for the HCM City Natural Sciences University, where she succeeded in gaining admission.
“My family helped me choose the subject of study,” Lý said. “I thought that information technology would be suitable for people with disabilities like me. At that time, the internet had just started to develop in Việt Nam.”
In August 2009, her mother took her to HCM City to study. Everyday, the 50-year mother pushed her on wheelchair to classes. The university supported her by allowing her to do extra work in the canteen and the English Language Centre, which helped her earn money to cover the daily expenses. In the meantime, her father farmed at home and raised her sisters.
In her first year, Lý realised that digital marketing was a promising field.
She joined a course to gain basic knowledge and worked online for some enterprises to get experience. During this time, she founded her start-up in online sales by optimising internet browsers’ searches.
Now, she owns the trademark "Sale Queen".
Family ties: Lý (left) and her mother. She intends to retire at 30 to travel with her parents. Photo thanhnien.vn
Commenting on the word “queen”, Lý said: “I have nothing more than confidence. In the marketing field, if you are shy, you will lose.”
No career is a bed of roses.
Lý has faced various obstacles. Though her health is not good, she works eight to 10 hours a day.
She does not ask companies for financial support, but only requests them to provide opportunities to work.
“Not every CEO liked my project; some of them read it and ignored it,” she said.
“At first, I was afraid that her health might affect the project’s speed,” said Phạm Thị Hương, director of a catering service company. “But when she presented her idea and displayed her knowledge on marketing, we trusted her.”
Thanks to Lý’s effective marketing strategy, the company supplying meals for factory workers has achieved high sales — selling more than 5,000 portions per day after four years from the expected number of 500 portions per day.
It was one of the most challenging projects for Lý, as there are many companies providing catering services for factory workers, and the company had limited capital. She had to think of the best way to market the products.
With an income of around VNĐ100 million (US$4,390) per month, Lý plans to retire at 30 to travel with her parents.
“Retirement does not mean I will stop working totally,” she said.
She is building a team of staff to gradually delegate her tasks so that she just has to manage in general.
She feels she owes her parents a lot for their sacrifices.
“Each step I walked, each meal I ate, each night I slept, they were there nearby,” she said. “I could not have been successful without them.”
Supporting other disabled people
Lý said she would write a memoir when she has time. “Other disabled people need orientation,” she said. “I want to use my experiences to help others.”
She opened the first free online classes for nearly 100 people, many of them with disabilities, when she was a student to equip them with knowledge on sale.
She intends to open another course for disabled people in a year or two.
“I want to give them the fishing rod, not the fish,” she said.
Currently, Lý is guiding a team of disabled, allowing them to use her trademark to start their business.
“I have experienced romantic feelings,” she said. “But love is one thing, getting married is another, which is not a matter that affects only the couple, but the families too.”
She knows that because of her bad health, she cannot give birth, yet she strives to find happiness in other things. VNS