Food for thought: To save or not to save? Posted by: | May 11, 2013

For the past year, all the talk has been revolving around the fact that the Vietnam economy condition is so bad, that no matter what you do, your money is probably better sitting in the bank. Face it, how many businesses nowadays make more than 9% profit/year? I would be crying happy tears if my business even broke even. Instead, if you put money in the bank, you will get guaranteed 9%/annum in interest. Good deal, yes? 


Instead I put all my life savings and pension into my business, work 10 times harder than before, completely sacrificed my social life, and still feel like the richest girl alive. And this, is what I call my “return on investment”. I invested not in my business, but in people. Every person in Kitchen Art, came in at the start as lost as me, and together, we have grown so strong together and became something bigger than ourselves. I invested in friendship, in trust, in building a space where we can proudly say we only do what we want to do, and make things we want to see happen, happen. I am not a social activist, but in the little space that I can control, I want every single employee of mine to feel loved, valued, and appreciated for being who they are. Every member in my team has his/her own quirky ways, talents, imperfections, and strengths. But together, we build something beautiful and real. Yes, we have the pressure to make ends meet, to keep the company afloat, but we put a bigger pressure on ourselves to become better at what we love doing, and doing things rightfully and passionately, so that people can look at us and say, “thank you for being here, you made our lives better”. 


So to all the realists out there who say, your money is better sitting in the bank, I say, take out your savings, spend it on building something entirely and wholly yours, be it your own business, your own little garden, or a photography studio. Create, Share, Give, and you shall receive. If you are out of options to spend your money on, spend it on people, on charity, on shopping (please, help the economy by spending!). Because all that, will bring you greater interest and returns than any bank could. It brings you joy and fulfillment. It makes people around you happy (because you are happy), and ultimately, it helps build a healthier economy. With all that money in the bank, what do we really get out of it? Think about it. It is only benefiting banks and investors who absolutely have no interest in your growth and personal happiness. Is it worth that 9% (and declining) interest? Are you really getting security that you think you are getting? 


This is the first entry on this blog that is not food related, but it is food for thought – no pun intended. After a year and a half on my journey and struggle towards my dream that is still in the making, I experienced and learnt so much, that I just can’t bear to keep them to myself any longer. I want to start recording it and remember all the ups and downs I went through to get there. From now on, I will start sharing all the struggles, pain, joy and all that jazz of being an entrepreneur in a country as unpredictable as Vietnam. But don’t worry, I will still talk about Food because it is still pretty much the center of my attention and passion. After all, it’s how this all started. 

Oh, and did I mention, my “Sweet Kitchens” book with Anh Nguyen is finally coming out in June?  It is going to print, after almost a year since the first day me and Anh talked about the idea of the book. But that’s not all, the book is going to launch and sell at our cafe, The KAfe – Kitchen Art’s first Cafe, to open in Hanoi this July. I have been dreaming about opening my own cafe since as long as I could remember. I would never dare to think it would happen this soon. But more about that next time. For now, let’s focus on the fact that I have achieved all this by NOT leaving my money in the bank ;).


I hope my bank won’t call me tomorrow to complain about this. 


PS: to welcome summer, here is a picture of me and the fresh vanilla ice-cream we made for our upcoming e-magazine Ice-cream special. It is going to be a hot summer indeed. 





9 Responses to “Food for thought: To save or not to save?”

  1. Minh K says:

    Admire and cheersss!

  2. anh says:

    Nah 9% in the bank is not a sustainable investment (actually it will just give more profits to banks!! I dislike them hehe).
    We are investing in a business which is new, inspiring and has long-term goals!! It is too easy to equate successes to money (and returns on investment), but there is more to business than that.
    Go forward!!!

    • Chi Anh says:

      Yeah, actual approval from someone from finance background! Definitely, we are in this for long term goals and fulfilling a purpose. Monetory Return on investment is just a by product!

  3. Phuong says:

    Hi e,

    Would you mind sharing why you decided to come back to Vietnam and start over? It would be helpful for those who also want to come back but still unsure about their decision, which probably happened to you too. Thanks e.

  4. Phuong says:

    Also what kind of shocks did you experience when you first came back? How did you deal with them? Have you ever regretted coming back? Thanks e!

    • Chi Anh says:

      Hi Phuong, thanks for bringing up these interesting questions. I will write a blog entry to address this alone… You just made me want to tell my adventure again ;)

  5. Phuong says:

    That would be awesome! Can’t wait to hear about it!
    I asked because I think Vietnam need more young inspiring people like you. I truly hope your story will give Vientnamese people living elsewhere the courage and confidence go back and succeed on their motherland. After all, nothing and nowhere can beat living on your motherland with people who look like you.

  6. Phuong Ho says:

    Hi chị,
    I’m dead keen on cooking and I love Kitchen Art as well :D Can you believe that, I have already watched all of KA’s clips on Utube hehe. I may say that you inspire me a lot :”) it is a bit off topic but I’m wondering whether you intend to expand your branches in HCMC as I’m living in HCMC and I have a big interest in products available at you store.
    Btw, I’ve followed you on Facebook and I discovered that you had studied at CVA Highschool. I was a CVA-er too hihi.Glad to know such a talented senior like you xD

    • Chi Anh says:

      Aww thanks for that. I always wonder who is out there watching those clips we painstakingly produce! HCMC is definitely in a near future. I need to get things up smoothly here in Hanoi first! A lot is going on :) We are launching Kitchen ARt Online Store soon which will ship nationwide! Oh, CVA mate hello :) CVA is best highschool ever!

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