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Founder, KOTO International.


Jimmy Viet Tuan Pham emigrated with his mother and four older siblings from Vietnam in 1974, eventually settling in Australia in 1980. Jimmy’s professional background in tourism and hospitality management brought him back to Vietnam in 1996. He first witnessed the plight of at-risk youth on the streets of Hanoi, and KOTO was born.

Current work

In 2019, KOTO is celebrating its 20th Anniversary.

Previous experience

Beginning: From humble beginnings as a sandwich stall manned by nine street youth in 1999, KOTO has grown to be an internationally recognized and award- winning non-pro t social enterprise, providing a 24-month intensive internationally-accredited vocational training program in hospitality training (Front of House and Back of House/Cookery), crucial life skills and English language for at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. This is delivered through KOTO’s national training center in Hanoi and its training restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Almost 1000 trainees have graduated from KOTO and at any given me there are 180 trainees undertaking the program. Jimmy continues to take a strong interest in every KOTO trainee. He personally knows the story of every single trainee that has been or going through the KOTO program!

Awards: In 2016, KOTO became the first legally registered entity operating as a social enterprise in Vietnam, after much-sought changes to the national law on Enterprises. Recent awards include KOTO being named as a finalist for the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in 2013. In the same year, KOTO was awarded the inaugural UNICEF Vietnam Zero Award for Social Innova on for its work championing the rights of children and youth. In 2017, KOTO was awarded a Pioneer in the field of Social Enterprise by the Centre for Social Initiatives Promo on and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). In 2018, the Department of Foreign A airs and Trade (DFAT) through the “Her Turn: Women’s Economic Empowerment Project in Vietnam” funded KOTO to provide vocational and/or entrepreneurial skills training to rural and/or ethnic minority women. In addition, a number of KOTO female alumnae will receive in-depth women’s leadership and entrepreneurial skills training.

Hosts: Jimmy and KOTO have played host to many visiting foreign dignitaries to Vietnam including President Bill Clinton (2000), Queen Margrethe of Denmark (2009) and Australian Prime Minister the Hon. Julia Gillard (2012).

Featured: KOTO has also been featured and profiled across numerous media platforms, including in Australia (ABC), South Korea (KBS and MBC), Switzerland (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen), the United Kingdom (BBC) and the United States (PBS and the New York Times) and Vietnam (VTV).

Personal Highlights:
Finalist, Swabb Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2009;
Acknowledged as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011;
Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), an honor acknowledging his significant service to the community, particularly with marginalized children and youth in Vietnam in 2013;
Awarded the Overseas Applied Research Fellowship with the International Specialized Skills Institute (ISSI) in 2016;
Received the POSCO TJ Park Prize, the second largest and most prestigious award in South Korea, under the Community Development and Philanthropy category in 2017.
Jimmy was ranked in the top 40 motivational speakers for two years in a row (2015-2016) by Saxton Speaking Bureau. He has spoken at numerous conference events, educational institutions; and non- governmental organizations in the field of development, civil society and social enterprise. In addition, Jimmy has spoken at TEDx events in both 2012 and 2017.

Jimmy is currently completing his EMBA on a scholarship awarded by the Auscham Vietnam chapter. He is expected to complete his studies in 2019.

Jimmy was a very engaging speaker. A unique and inspiring story. The audience was visibly moved by his stories of hardship and struggle. AXA Australia

Jimmy was wonderful, he really hit the right note with our attendees and bringing the kids in the KOTO program with him was a great addition. We had a lot of questions to Jimmy and the kids which was great. Our client was thrilled with his presentation; everyone was talking about it for days after and were really touched by his story and particularly hearing from the kids themselves that are taking part in the program. The best part was that his presentation really reinforced our theme of 'Many Voices, One Team'.

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