Meet Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Southeast Asia’s First Self-Made Billionaire

Have you heard of the first female billionaire in Southeast Asia? She’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, founder of VietJet.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao took economics and finance in Russia way back 1980s and she ventured into trading commodities within Eastern Europe and Asia after her studies. She eventually settled in Vietnam and started investing in banks.

Image: Vietnam Net

She later decided to move in real estate, having projects in Ho Chi Minh City and resorts in Central Vietnam.

She made her first million at 21 by trading fax machines and latex rubber.

Her unusual ‘gimmick’ in her airlines wherein flight attendants wear bikinis boosted her company’s exposure and capitalized on Vietnam’s developing air transportation market and expanded by 29 percent in the years 2012 and 2016.

Currently, VietJet offers 300 flights per day, 63 of them are domestic and the rest are for international flights.

According to Forbers, VieJet was launched in December 2011; it was considered Vietnam’s first budget airline and became famous because of its unusual flight attendants who wear two-piece swimsuits during their shift.

VietJet had gained $1.2 billion in revenues over 5 years after it launched. It currently operates more than 40 percent of the country’s flights.

According to Trending News Portal, a reporter said, “She is one of 56  women on this year’s FORBES World’s Billionaires list who built their own ten-figure fortunes; more than half of them hail from Asia. Nguyen, who is 46, appeared on the list with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. FORBES currently pegs her fortune at $1.7 billion.”