Helping poor women in coastal areas to escape poverty
In 2005, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thien married Mr. Bui Thai Thuc. After getting married, Thuc still did the job that young men in the sea have done for generations: going to the beach. With no capital to build ships, he only had a raft. At 3 am when all was still in the dark, he quietly pushed the raft and started the engine to aim for the dark night sea.
At 1, 2 pm, he and his raft returned to shore. In particular, rafting, small nets can only be caught near the shore, so fish and shrimp are also few. On peak days, he gets 200-300 thousand VND, if the weather is not favorable, he may have to return. Each month, the average amount of fish and shrimp sales is only about 3-4 million VND.
Thien stayed at home waiting for her husband to return from the sea to bring fish and shrimp to the market to sell. The rest of the time, she grew corn, peanuts and potatoes on her family's 3-acre plot of land. Farming is hard work, costing money to buy fertilizers and pesticides. Plants take 3-4 months to harvest.
In 2005, 2008 her children were born one after another. The older the child, the higher the family expenses, but the seafaring job was still erratic, the agricultural profession is still struggling.
During the days when she went to sell fish and shrimp caught by her husband, Ms. Thien saw that traders often go to the beach to buy fresh jellyfish and then bring them back to dry, soak them in spices and sell them to diners. She also learned from her mother how to soak jellyfish. She began to think about giving up farming to work in the service industry. Thinking so, but having no capital and never had a business, she still hesitated.
At that time, in 2010, TYM expanded its activities to Nam Tien Tien, Dien Kim village. At that time, she was the leader of the Vietnam Women’s Union in the village. She and 5 other sisters in the village went to the cultural house to listen to TYM staff introduce about TYM's activities, how it works, as well as financial products and services to support community development.
Ms. Thien packs dried jellyfish products
Her business idea was supported immediately. She and 5 other sisters from the village were introduced to participate in a free 2-day training course of TYM. There, the women were provided with knowledge about household economic management, about starting a business, and learned about TYM's methods of borrowing, repayment and savings.
Along with that, at night, she came back and persuaded her husband to support her to quit farming and switch to business. He did not object strongly, but he was still afraid: “My family has never done business for a long time. Besides, where do you get the capital now?".
She reassured her husband: “Just let me try, in the past, my mother taught me to soak jellyfish very well. TYM will provide a loan. I just have to repay in installments every week…”.
Thanks to the guidance of TYM staff, she boldly borrowed the first loan of VND 7,000,000 to start.
She was helped by her husband to dig a large tarpaulin to house jellyfish. Then every night he went to the sea, and she tinkered with her pickled jellyfish batches.
The way to soak jellyfish is really simple from folklore that has been passed down from generation to generation. However, it is just a small thing like a dish in the house, to make it into a business product is another story.
From basic business knowledge thanks to TYM's training session, and with her own efforts, she tinkered with different batches of jellyfish, both working and selling on a small scale while giving food to her neighbors to try and give comments. From the feedback of trial users, she gradually adjusted when adding sugar and reducing salt so that the jellyfish flavor would best suit the taste of customers.
After many days of hard work, she finally found her own recipe.
Her spiced dried jellyfish is gradually accepted by the market. The first loan period has also ended. Seeing the benefits and convenience of TYM's loan and repayment, she continued to borrow a larger amount of capital for business: 20, 30 and 50 million.
Ngoc Thao Jellyfish is now available on the market in many provinces and cities.
Along with TYM's loans, she gradually invested in buying more machines to produce jellyfish, repaired spaciously and expanded her production base. In 2016, she officially launched Ngoc Thao dried jellyfish brand. Her production scale is also up to 5 tons per import. Her husband also stopped going to the sea and switched to supporting her in doing business and expanding the market. Currently, her products are present in many big cities in the country such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Owning a jellyfish processing factory area of more than 2,000 m2, now her establishment creates jobs for 5 women members. She continues to join TYM to borrow more capital for business activities, and at the same time, periodically deposit to accumulate assets for her family.
In addition to her personal success, she actively supports the participation of women members who are members of TYM. Currently, she is still the head of a center of TYM with 68 members.
* Members: Customers participate in borrowing, savings and benefiting from TYM's non-financial services.
TYM is the abbreviation for Tinh Thuong Microfinance Organization, founded in 1992 by the Vietnam Women's Union. TYM works to improve the quality of life of low-income individuals and households, especially giving priority to poor and disadvantaged women through financial and non-financial services, creating opportunities for women to participate in economic and social activities, contributing to raising the status of women. TYM currently operates in 13 provinces and cities in Vietnam with more than 190,000 customers, outstanding loans of 2,561 billion VND and savings balance of 1,955 billion VND. Over the past 30 years of establishment and development, TYM has supported hundreds of thousands of women to get out of poverty sustainably, have a better life and achieve many successes in life.