Bamboo: yes finally we made it!

“My name is Nguyên Thi Quý Hiêp. My husband and I we have 4 children, we live in Duc Thuân. We are from the Center of the country, we migrated here to have some land: we now have 2000 m2 for paddy, this is not enough of course. We wanted to raise pigs but did not have the capital. So I worked at the cashew nut workshop and earned about 13 euros/month. We also took care of the ducks for a farmer, this added another 30 euros. Yet all this could not make both ends meet.

This was before I joined the bamboo workshop. When I started there I first earned 36 euros only, now I get 54 euros/month. But there are other benefits: we get trainings and microloans. Our total income has now trebled. Last year my husband replaced our hut by a house in concrete, 55m2, but it is not finished yet”.

The bamboo workshop is a beautiful story. 2 years ago Terre d’Occontacted us for small dishes in lamellate bamboo. Tanh Linh is a region with plenty of bamboo but local craftmen had disappeared. We sent 2 people for training. In that school they were the only 2 to complete the course for the obvious reason that they were also the only ones to have an order from Terre d’Oc waiting for them. It is common that trainings are not fruitful because one has not thought of what would happen after the training is completed.

However Terre d’Oc can only order what it can sell and it is not enough to keep the workers busy. We have thus expanded the range of products to sell them through our Mekong Quilts shops. Quality was poor, our production cost higher than the retail price…

We have learned we must be tenacious. We tried harder. Today in our shops -including 2 Mekong Creations shops, the customers exclaim: “one cannot find this quality anywhere else!” Madeleine, who manages this new program of Mekong Plus is all smiles: the prices are good too, the gross margin is 50%.

Bernard KERVYN and Quân (in Tánh Linh) and Madeleine.
The 21st November 2010