May 28, 2024

Social Impact Through Innovation: The Entrepreneur Exchange Program Winners

Grace Achi 🇹🇭
Social Impact Through Innovation: The Entrepreneur Exchange Program Winners

The entrepreneurial spirit thrives on a potent blend of ambition and a desire to create positive change. 

Here at HEX, we believe in fostering that spirit and empowering individuals who are tackling the world's most pressing challenges with innovative solutions. This is precisely the driving force behind the Entrepreneur Exchange Program, a scholarship opportunity sponsored by the City of Melbourne. This unique initiative is designed to propel impactful ventures to the next level by selecting two aspiring entrepreneurs to join our July cohort for the HEX International: Ho Chi Minh City program, a two-week intensive entrepreneurship program, in one of Asia's well-known startup hubs, Vietnam.

Today, we shine a spotlight on two exceptional winners who embody the very essence of the program: Priyanka Ashraf and Dr. Michelle Chen. 

Priyanka Ashraf: Empowering Women and Dismantling Barriers

Priyanka Ashraf, Founder and Director of The CCO & Founder of Maya Cares.

Priyanka Ashraf's story is one of resilience and purpose. As a lawyer turned technologist turned entrepreneur, she's carved a path at the intersection of technology and social justice. Her brainchild, The Creative Co-Operative (CCO), tackles a crucial issue: employment barriers faced by emerging professionals, particularly Bla(c)k and Women of Color, including international students. The CCO dismantles these barriers by providing paid work opportunities, training, coaching, and mentorship – a much-needed lifeline for those seeking a "foot in the door."

Priyanka's dedication extends beyond skills development. Recognizing the significant impact of racism on mental health, especially for women, she launched Maya Cares. This innovative chatbot and digital resource library empowers women to effectively address racism anytime, anywhere. 

Priyanka's excitement to attend our HEX International: Ho Chi Minh City program is driven by a desire to extend The CCO's reach. 

“Australia, a popular study destination for Vietnamese students, presents a significant opportunity to offer support even before they arrive. HCMC's vibrancy and burgeoning startup scene hold immense potential for further scaling The CCO's impact, and we're thrilled to see how this program facilitates that growth.” – Priyanka Ashraf, Founder and Director of The CCO.

Dr. Michelle Chen: Mental Health Advocacy Through Video Games

Dr. Michelle Chen, Founder, Game Developer & Creative Practice Researcher at Mental Jam.

Dr. Michelle Chen, a seasoned game developer with 15 years of experience, brings a unique perspective to the program. Her recently completed PhD in Design at RMIT gave birth to Mental Jam, a platform that harnesses the power of video games for positive impact. Mental Jam fosters co-creation, allowing individuals to share their lived experiences with mental health struggles through video games.

Michelle's desire for Ho Chi Minh City stems from a personal connection. Some of her earliest co-creators hail from Vietnam, and together they explored themes like mental health stigma and discrimination through games. This experience solidified Michelle's belief in video games as tools for sharing lived experiences and promoting mental health awareness. Her HCMC journey will focus on translating existing games into Vietnamese, making them accessible to a wider audience and amplifying the reach of mental health literacy.

The Journey Begins: Stay Tuned for Their Impactful Stories

We, at HEX, are incredibly proud to support Priyanka and Michelle – two aspiring entrepreneurs who are already making a difference. The HEX International: Ho Chi Minh City program's mid-year cohort kicks off on June 22nd and runs for two weeks, concluding on July 6th. Participants will gain access to a global network of champions, transform their careers, learn cross-border business skills, and launch their startup ideas in the heart of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City.

Stay tuned as we follow their journeys in HCMC and witness the exciting developments fueled by the Entrepreneur Exchange Program!


Ready to launch your own business overseas? Explore the End-of-Year HEX International Program here.


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