VinFast, a Vietnamese electric vehicle brand, has recently caused a stir in the global automotive market. On August 25, local time, VinFast's stock price continued to soar, closing up more than 40%. It may be that you haven't heard of its name yet, but it has already become the third-largest automaker ( with a market value of nearly $160 billion) in the world.

Behind VinFast is Vietnam's richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong. His wealth-making story in the automotive field vividly depicts the "overtaking on the curve." How did this tycoon go from the food processing industry to real estate, and finally become a breakout star in the automotive industry?

Pham Nhat Vuong was born in 1968 in war-torn Vietnam. His father served in the Vietnamese Army's air defence division, and his mother had a tea shop, which left the family with a very meager income. However, he showed signs of intelligence and diligence from an early age, and was granted government funding to study in Russia.

After graduation, he did not rush back to Vietnam, but instead began his entrepreneurial journey in Ukraine. At first, he raised money to open a Vietnamese restaurant in Kharkiv, and then imported a production line from Vietnam to make ramen. Despite the success of his businesses, he decided to close them all because he wanted to "play a big game." So he borrowed money to open the only instant noodle factory in Ukraine, called "Mivina." Mivina became an instant success in Ukraine, helping Pham Nhat Vuong become the king of processed foods there.

By 2004, Mivina had captured 97% of the Ukrainian instant food market. When Pham Nhat Vuong sold the business to Nestle for about $1.5 billion in 2010, it had already generated $1 billion in revenue.

Around 2001, Pham Nhat Vuong's Vinpearl Pearl Resort in Nha Trang was completed. In 2002, Pham Nhat Vuong established Vincom in Vietnam, entering the fields of large shopping malls, high-end office buildings, and apartments. In 2012, Pham Nhat Vuong merged Vincom and Vinpear to create Vingroup. Vingroup is the largest private enterprise in Vietnam, with businesses spanning industries such as industry, real estate, and technology. In 2022, the group's revenue accounted for 2.2% of Vietnam's GDP.

VinFast is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vingroup, founded in 2017. At the time, there were almost no domestic brands on the Vietnamese automobile market. Pham Nhat Vuong set a grand goal: to build the first Vietnamese-made car in two years. This goal inspired many Vietnamese people's national pride.

To achieve this goal, Pham Nhat Vuong spared no effort. He poached General Motors executives, partnered with global automotive technology suppliers such as Bosch and ABB, and hired the Italian design firm Pininfarina. With the help of top suppliers in various fields, VinFast succeeded. In their own words, it takes 27-54 months to build a car, but VinFast only takes 18 months.

The company began producing internal combustion vehicles in 2019 and is the first domestic automaker in Vietnam. It is currently fully focused on electric vehicles, and its last internal combustion vehicle was produced in early November 2022. On August 15, 2023, the electric vehicle maker known as "Vietnam Tesla" completed a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) BlackSpadeAcquisition, under the son of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho, and went public on the US stock market. It surged 254.64% on its first day.

Pham Nhat Vuong's wealth has naturally risen as well. According to the US media Business Insider, his net worth rose more than eightfold to $443 billion on VinFast's first day of trading. As of the close of trading on August 25, his net worth had risen to $558 billion.

As Vietnam's richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong has always been a low-key person, but he has never hidden his ambition and passion on the road to building a national brand.

More than a decade ago, he led Vingroup to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, showcasing the vitality and potential of the Vietnamese economy and earning the reputation as "Vietnam's economic ambassador."

In addition, Pham Nhat Vuong also founded his own university, VinUni, with the ambition of building this new institution, which resembles Moscow State University, into one of the top 50 universities in the world.

He has also stated that he wants to make the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as bright as Hong Kong or Singapore.

“If I can do this, even if it will cost me billions, I am happy,” he said. “I can leave something behind, money cannot be taken into the coffin.”

Editor: Alexander