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Newsletter No.49 Oct. 2016
We all want to be recognized
as a person, company or country. For example Hoang Xuan Vinh, a
Vietnamese athlete, won for the first time in the history of Vietnam, a
gold medal at the Olympic games in Rio. He made the country proud and
gave it more international recognition. Transformation can do the same.
We have seen this in Danang. The city is now being recognized as a fast
growing city with lots of potential. We as Solar Serve have been
growing along with it and in this newsletter we’d love to tell you some
of our latest stories.
One week together
Let’s begin with a few stories we
promised you in our last letter. We organized our Solar Serve staff
outing with a gathering of friends in North Vietnam. Most of our staff
travelled to Hanoi by sleeping bus for 750 km. The amazing gathering
recharged our batteries and we even promoted our new products to our
friends. After a few days we decided to travel to Haiphong to meet some
of our deaf friends who have been working for Solar Serve. Very soon we
were surrounded by many of their friends and had a good time. Some of
them came along with us when we organized a boat trip in Halong bay and
a visit to one of the breathtaking caves. Tired but satisfied we all
flew back to Danang after one week. Again it was an amazing time!
Els and Nienke, two
volunteers from Holland came to visit us and offered their help. But
first they had to learn how to cook Vietnamese food. It was a real
challenge for Tho, the wife of our director. They did well and in
response they taught her how to bake her first Dutch pancakes. Later
she changed it more Vietnamese with peanut oil and the pancakes became
even more delicious. We also asked them if they could spend two days
entertaining the children of our neigh-borhood with songs, games and
stories about the sea, boats and fishing. It was amazing and the second
day the children participated very well and took pride in their
self-made decorations. Els and Nienke still had time to visit Hoi An
and the next day they travelled back to Holland.
We were still hopeful
that our clean cookstove could pass a second opinion test, when it
failed the temperature surface test. It already passed major tests in
Cambodia and Laos, but the last one needed to be reviewed. It took some
time but finally our stove was approved and we received an official
certificate. Now it can also been used for auction. It’s nice that we
can show our clean cookstove users an official paper. We were also
contacted by the British Council. They wanted to write a book about
successful social enterprises in Vietnam and asked us if they could
mention us too. A great honor and recognition!
To be patient
A few months ago we were
offically awarded by the Climate Innovation Center, a Vietnamese
government agency. They confirmed that we were listed to be supported,
but later they told us that we ended up in another category where
support was not given. It was a setback for us and also for other
social enterprises that have been working hard to present their case.
We were awarded with great promises in front of the press but ended up
with empty hands, while in other countries social enterprises are
subsidized in order to benefit the local and sometimes poor people. It
is a slow process to be recognized as a social enterprise and we need
to be patient.
Longing for transformation
Mr. Tuan (39 yrs) lives
in Kieng Giang (Mekong Delta) and is a very skilled carpenter. Although
he is a good man, unfortunately he participated in illegal wood trade
from Cambodia to his province. He thought it was a normal way to do
business, because other companies were doing the same. When he attended
our family business course he was very touched by the teaching of the
Ten Commandments for Entrepreneurs. He decided to change his business
according to what he had learned. So he carved the 10 Commandments in a
piece of wood and hung it up at his workplace. He wanted to remind
himself daily to follow these principles. Now he opened a new furniture
factory and wants to use his skills in a more honest way to see a
transformation in his business.
Leaving laughing people
Most of the people in Phi
Lieng (Central Highlands near Dalat) could not sell their passion fruit
on the market. Mr. Hien didn’t give up and participated in one of our
seminars. Other participants had their doubts and didn’t pay attention
when he introduced his model. But Hien wanted to create an opportunity
in a difficult situation. So he decided to plant the passion fruit
anyway, even when people were laughing about him. After his first
harvest he only could sell the fruit for a low price. But when he
marketed his products according to what he had learned, it changed.
When the teachers of the course came to visit his business, he had
already increased the price 4 times in a short time and was able to
support his family. Now people are asking his advice and also see an
impact in their daily lives.
New hope after being misused
Tai is a young man and
got involved in crime. He was beaten down during a fight and when he
woke up he found himself laying down in a hospital in China. They had
operated on him and removed one of his kidneys without his permission.
When he returned to Vietnam, he could no longer function properly.
Desperate for a job he decided to find work in Malaysia, but they
abused him as a modern slave. His passport was taken away, so he could
not return back. He came in contact with a group of Vietnamese who had
been in a similar situation but had found new hope. He joined our
family business training organized by one of the leaders (see last
letter). The teaching helped Tai on his return to Vietnam, and now he
has opened a coffeshop in Danang for others in similar situations to
give them new hope.
Now you can watch our new
solar lamp video (click)
with English subtitles on our YouTube channel.
Because of security reasons (batteries are not allowed in planes), it
is not pos-sible to send this lamp by air. But we are still able to
send it fast when we take the battery out. After that you can buy your
own battery for around 10 USD in your own country. Our lamp is very
durable. It does not have to stay outside in the sun for recharging,
but only needs to be connected to a small solar panel which comes
together with the lamp. The lamp can still be sent with a battery but
only by sea mail, which can take two to three months before it arrives.
Please contact us (see address below) for more info.
A great Asian country and
This year Singapore has
been very important for us as a port for transit to Malaysia and doing
our Family Business Training. It also became a place for sharing,
learning and growing together with many social enterprises during a two
day conference on social entrepreneurship (Asian SE 2016) at the
National University of Singapore. Almost two months later we were again
in Singapore for the Impact Investing Conference (TBN Asia). The theme
was: Fighting poverty through enterprise. Now we are working together
with some people in Myanmar and also connected with other Asian
Some people are
sponsoring our work in different ways, like some Dutch people who were
picking pears for several days. Others sold flower bulbs or organized a
flea market and an exhibition of light during the Summer. More
activities were planned. A young engaged couple fell in love with our
dragonflies and ordered more than 100 of them for their wedding guests.
A young man from Singapore came to our center and bought a number of
Solar Lights for other people. And the last few months we were able to
support 500 clean cookers to different locations in Vietnam. This is
one of our missions as a charity organization but also as social
We received the final
drawings from the architect for building our new research center and it
was officially sealed by the local authorities. We asked our former
contractor to help building, but at the moment he has some other
building projects. We were tempted to ask another contractor, but we
felt that we should stick with the former one. He is very good in
building strong foundations, which was a key requirement for us. We are
now in the rainy season, so building at the moment will be more
complicated. Therefore we asked the contractor to start building at the
beginning of next year and he agreed. At least we are not in a hurry!
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve