We paid a visit to the Hung Phuong sawdust pellet workshop on a gloomy humid day after heavy rain. The weather slowed the production of the workshop. Maybe that was the reason why Mrs. Phuong had more time to share us her life story, a micro-entrepreneur born in countryside, with a new kind business model that had never appeared in Vietnam.


Wood pellet – a kind of renewable energy - is made from sawdust, a cheap and environment-friendly ingredient. In the world, especially in developed countries, this bio-energy has been quite familiar to civilians as burning these wood pellets doesn’t produce noxious fumes and gases. This business model is still new in Vietnam though sawdust is abundant and useless. Therefore, starting with little information about producing wood pellets o­n the Internet, Mrs. Phuong, together with her husband, managed to “produce pellets from simple things in daily life to create environment – friendly energy”.

The start-up was founded in 2009. The couple studied the market, outputs, and inputs and invented machines. It was the toughest time in their lives, as they had very little money and couldn’t buy an expensive imported machine that worth several billion VND. With the help of her husband – an automation engineer – and her father – a skilled mechanic, a machine system capable of making wood pellets was brought to life. Instead of buying foreign machines, they attempted to invent something new that was both hard and time-consuming. During a long term of researching, testing, failures and readjustments, the couple at last successfully built up their own manufacturing model. Their machinery was not o­nly inexpensive but also convenient and suitable for conditions in Vietnam. After that, they started their production plan and introduced this bio-energy product to the market. At first they did not sell but gave their neighbors the products to help them get used to this new kind of energy, and then gradually wood pellets were introduced into the market and spread out to other provinces. The use of wood pellets goes together with a specially designed smoke-free stove; this made the introduction of wood pellets to the market more difficult and costly than expected. The family’s poor finance conditions plus the never-heard-before idea of the business project made it more difficult for the couples to take out loans from commercial banks.


Fortunately, in 2012, Mrs. Thanh was able to borrow a loan from TYM. This capital together with the capital that the couple borrowed from their relatives helped the business to increase production, promote and bring the pellets to the market. The capital was not  remarkable, but with their determination and step-by-step investment, gradually their wood pellet workshop became well-known and received its very first orders.


Until now, as a mature member with a 600m2workshop and 15 workers after 5 years of membership, she continues to borrow credit from TYM. o­n average, Mrs. Phuong’s family business produces two to three tons of wood pellets per day. Their wood pellet products are widely used not o­nly in Thai Nguyen but also in many other provinces such as Yen Bai, Lang Son, Da Lat, Binh Duong, etc. Wood pellets, together with their invention of machinery system, received many innovation awards in Vietnam. Recently, they have transferred the technology to other factories and even helped them to sell their outputs. Mrs. Phuong said that o­nly thanks to TYM’s initial investment that led to their success today in such a skeptical environment. In the days ahead, they will continue to upscale  manufacturing as well as make use of other alternative resources such as straw, rice husk, shavings, and so o­n.