Joseph Phan Van Quyen

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Joseph Phan Van Quyen
Multimedia Art Entrepreneur
Novia D. Rulistia
Staff Writer, The ASEAN
27 Aug 2020
Education, Youth

For 25-year-old entrepreneur Joseph Phan Van Quyen, being young means having endless opportunities to contribute to communities. He established Jos Creative ( to channel his passion for multimedia art. His interest in human-centered design that creates solutions and social impacts prompted him to set up Ethnicity in 2018, a digital conservation project that preserves the patterns on the ethnic minorities’ textiles. With this, he aims to promote mutual understanding among rural and urban communities to create positive change in the lives of ethnic minorities in Viet Nam.

“I was born and raised in Lam Dong province. Growing up among the ethnic groups gave me a deep understanding of their struggles with life due to poverty. I established ‘The Fingerprint Volunteer Group’ when I was a high school student to raise money to help the ethnic minorities improve their living standards and education. But I think the circle of giving and receiving is not sustainable for future generations.

After graduating from high school, I stayed in the village to become a coffee and tea picker. But after a year, I started to think about who I wanted to be in life, and what I wanted to change. I decided to move to Ho Chi Minh City when I was 21, and this decision is my biggest accomplishment to date. I worked for about a year in the city to save money for my studies. I graduated from college and got a diploma in multimedia, and established Jos Creative. During my studies, I started to learn about the world and discover myself. I participated in many ASEAN programmes for youth and was chosen to represent Viet Nam to meet former US President Barack Obama last year for a roundtable discussion organised by the Obama Foundation.

Then I noticed how youth in the city are influenced by other cultures; that their own cultural identity is fading away. I founded Ethnicity to bridge the gap among urban and rural youth, and promote mutual understanding among them, which is fundamental for a more sustainable collaboration. Through the promotion of online libraries of brocade’s patterns, we pull the urban and rural closer together and indirectly introduce the traditional brocade weaving to tourists to preserve this tradition as well as increase income.

My team and I organise field trips to my hometown to do research on the patterns. We started with the K’Ho and Ma people who account for over 25 per cent of the province’s population to get a deep understanding of the message behind each pattern. We have around 400 patterns in our digital library. We mix the shapes and colours to create new patterns for the modern creative industry and design ready-to-use templates for CV and business cards, for example. We also have illustrations on cultural activities of the ethnic minorities. I want these patterns to appear more so people can learn about the patterns as they learn about the culture. The ethnic minority people are also happy as they get noticed more.

COVID-19 affected my work too. But I took this as an opportunity to expand digital skills. I launched Jos Foundation during the pandemic to support young people who want to make changes to the communities. Young people have lots of energy and ideas, but they do not have funding or mentorship to do it. The Foundation is a platform to give such mentorship to young people. Ethnicity is also now supported by Jos Foundation. It is a challenge for me now to balance my business and social projects. I would love to focus on community projects, but I need money to fund them.

Many people told me that I should take care of myself, focus on my study before taking care of others. But as young people, we have a lot of energy and can do a lot of things. We just need support, and we want to be recognised for what we are doing. If our voices are heard, we can do more than what we have done. We can dedicate more to the communities.”

I founded Ethnicity to bridge the gap among urban and rural youth, and promote mutual understanding among them, which is fundamental for a more sustainable collaboration.