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Cay's Story


Surrounded by colour, scarves and looms, four women sit proudly showing their work. 

Around 30 years ago they’d be one of a number of brocade weaver groups in the remote northern Thanh Hoa province of Vietnam. Now, the group is responsible for reviving the tradition in the area. Or more specifically, their teacher, Le Thi Cay, a Muong ethnic minority woman, is. 

‘I travel to villages in my district to provide training courses on brocade weaving to more local ethnic minority women,’ says Cay.


World Vision helped Cay train other Muong women and she now employs sixteen staff members in her workshop to make traditional scarfs, mats and accessories. Loans from VisionFund have paid for materials and capital to set up the business.

‘Initially, I received little support in my community to reintroduce this traditional art,’ she says. Cay is a single mother and her son was the only person who encouraged her to pursue her dream. ‘My son helped me test colours from tree routes and leaves. But the lack of funds was the worst problem.’

Cay was struggling to provide for her son at the same time as setting up a new business. With her first VisionFund loan of $95, she brought some pigs which she raised and sold to pay for materials for the brocade business.

Clients were local and regional but soon Cay supplied embroidered scarves to people in Hanoi and Hoi An. Then World Vision introduced her to a client in Japan. “It was so wonderful when they said my goods were liked in the country,” says Cay.


In 2011, Cay won an international entrepreneurship award recognising the difference she has made to her local community. She wants to set up a co-operative, employ another 25 ethnic minority women and increase employee wages by up to 30 per cent. Working with her son, who is now in his 30s and has finished college, Cay wants to create more products and find more international clients.

“I believe our traditional weaving will be restored and the business will help our villagers improve their life,” says Cay.

Take a look inside Cay’s workshop and meet one of her employees. 

CAY's Photos


Cay's Story