Thursday , September 29 2022

Cultural transformation journey of Mekong Capital


In 2001, Chris Freund founded Mekong Capital – a Vietnam-based private equity investment firm.

Mekong Capital’s first six years were a struggle, and the company’s investments were unsuccessful.

“At first, we did not have any activities to engage our team members; instead, we focused on imparting information and technical abilities to our staff. The lack of internal connection and clear communication resulted in everyone working in silos and lots of fighting as Mekong Capital started expanding rapidly.

In the end, very few or no one took responsibility for any outcomes, and everyone offered an excuse that it was someone else’s fault,” Freund said.

Chris Freund, founder of Mekong Capital. Photo by Mekong Capital

Chris Freund, founder of Mekong Capital. Photo by Mekong Capital

Building corporate culture

Freund revealed that in mid-2007, he was ready to give up on himself as managing partner of Mekong Capital. In the midst of a deadlock, he registered for The Landmark Forum, a three-day transformation course in Singapore.

“I realized that I was the source of all the problems that had happened before. However, I had the opportunity to transform into to be the future leader of Mekong Capital,” Freund said.

He decided to partner with Landmark Education to organize comparable courses led by Jerome Downes, head of Landmark in Asia, for Mekong Capital’s entire team.

The transformation of the Mekong began with the launch of the first transformation projects in Vietnam in December 2007.

However, the firm faced several obstacles at first. People who were not excited about the new culture left.

Freund saw that it was also an opportunity for Mekong Capital to attract new talents who were very interested in the new future and culture.

Mekong Capital had been completely transformed by 2010. Over the years, the firm has grown a stable and well-balanced team, strongly empowered by its core values to deliver breakthrough results to Mekong Capital and its investee companies.

Vision Driven Investing

In 2009, the company introduced a framework called Vision Driven Investing.

The framework has been back-tested against the previous 42 investments of the company since 2001 to ensure that it is highly connected with what has led to the best performance among investments to date.

Based on extensive analysis and insights into what works best, the framework is evaluated and updated on a regular basis.

According to Mekong Capital’s founder, “Vision Driven Investing” is not a set of best practices or solutions. Instead, it is a framework with 15 elements to provide a vivid and complete view of what it takes for a company to achieve its vision and provide access to the necessary transformation.

After that, Mekong Capital became a successful and value-added investor, investing early in firms including MobileWorld, Golden Gate, Masan Food, Phu Nhuan Jewelry, PharmaCity, F88, etc.

In 2021, Mekong Capital announced its fifth fund, Mekong Enterprise Fund IV (MEF IV), with a total committed capital of $246 million, after Mekong Enterprise Fund III successfully invested in nine companies.

MEF IV is following in the footsteps of MEF III and is presently making investments in Vietnamese companies that meet the fund’s criteria.

Freund saw that Mekong employees and the CEOs of their investee firms were interested in hearing stories, remembered them, and sometimes took on new activities as a result. Similarly, he noted that the best business books included a lot of interesting stories to explain the author’s points.

Thus, in early 2022, Freund published “Crab Hotpot” which contains vital advice for businesses about change, leadership competencies, and focusing on a clear goal.

Cultural transformation journey of Mekong Capital - 1

Crab Hotpot Story has a colorful cover and cartoon-style brushstrokes. Photo by Mekong Capital

“Crab Hotpot might appear to be a fictional story, but it is all mostly based on people and situations that occurred in Mekong Capital.

Each crab is based on a real person who works with Mekong Capital now or in the past. Many individuals, including me, can see aspects of ourselves in the various crabs,” said Freund.

Crab Hotpot Story is available at the bookstores in Vietnam.  Photo by Mekong Capital

Crab Hotpot Story is available at the bookstores in Vietnam. Photo by Mekong Capital

Crab Hotpot is available on Amazon: amzn.to/3yWunzG (English) and Tiki: bit.ly/38baF8a (Vietnamese).

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