Today, Diem Kieu Fuggersberger is a proud entrepreneur with two successful food businesses: Berger Ingredients and Coco&Lucas, which produces premium frozen meals for children, (or “junior foodies”, as she calls them). But that success would never have happened without loss. Of family, of money and, more than once, of everything.
The first came when Diem was just seven years old.
After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Diem and her family fled Vietnam, leaving behind her beloved grandmother. Fifteen of them boarded a boat bound for Indonesia, squeezed in among more than 400 other desperate souls. On route, pirates stripped them of what few possessions they had, and as they approached the refugee island a storm nearly sunk their vessel. Neither the little girl nor any of her relatives could swim.
Diem Fuggersberger chats to Rachel Corbett about the storms she weathered on the path to success. (Post continues below.)
Speaking to Mamamia’s Lady Startup podcast, Diem said her parents weren’t worried about their assets or material things: “They were more worried about if my cousin that they took over [on] the boat was going to get raped, if the boat was going to capsize and we’re going to drown.”
They eventually arrived an Indonesian refugee camp, where they shared a longhouse with six other families. Living conditions were dire and malaria was rife; Diem watched as children died around around her. The family spent 15 months in this hellish limbo before their eventual journey to Singapore and then on to Australia.