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Episode 24: Meet the Aussie Behind one of the World’s Leading Social Enterprises

Vietnamese-born Jimmy Pham grew up in Australia but, on his first visit to his birthplace, he was shocked by the poverty and the plight of the street kids he met – they were unwashed, starving, begging for money and living rough. It was 1996, Vietnam was still recovering from the war-torn years and was yet to burst on to the world stage as a hot tourist destination.

Jimmy started out feeding a handful of these young people but eventually decided to do something that might really change their lives. He gave up his job with a travel company and moved to Ho Chi Minh City where he set up a not-for-profit sandwich shop, called KOTO, staffed by street kids. He hoped that by training them to make and sell food, they would have a chance at a healthy, safe future.

Twenty years on, KOTO is an internationally recognised social enterprise, with two training restaurants and a training school. The program is a two-year vocational program, with the students provided a safe home, food and healthcare during their course.

Click here to listen to Jimmy talk about the inspiring stories of KOTO’s students and how its graduates pay it forward. You can support KOTO and find out more about its work at

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