Founder: Hong, Tang Thi Duyen
Sector: Green/ Rural
The idea and how it works: Marine Gifts is a social enterprise that seeks to empower women living in and around the Vietnam coastline and simultaneously help conserve the marine ecosystem. The company trains local women to make handicrafts, using marine generated by-products. It buys the products and makes them available to tourists through its offline stores and online distribution channels. It also teaches the women to provide community-based tourism services. Non-profits and governmental agencies also offer such vocational training but, as Hong explains, “None of them care about market opportunities and follow-up activities to ensure that local people access the market and maintain good quality of products and services.” Before Marine Gifts, Hong spent three years with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and five years with a non-profit engaged in marine life conservation. The startup plans to reinvest its profits back into developing coastal communities.
Social Impact: The women that Marine Gifts is working with are able to generate long term and direct income. The company’s activities also help to preserving local culture and promote sustainable use of the environment. It has brought about gender balance by making women more confident through self-reliance. The company has enabled 32 women to rise up from the poverty line and helped two groups of local women from two marine protected areas to earn an extra income of $150 a month.
Funding: The company raised seed funds worth $5000 through a regional business plan contest. The founder has invested $50,000 from her own resources.
Editor’s Note: StatupCentral is a media partner for Sankalp Summit 2012. As part of the partnership, we are featuring profiles of the 31 social enterprises that are finalists for Sankalp Awards 2012.
Images Courtesy: Marine Gifts