Red Arrowroot Vermicelli Start-up
Posted on 21/07/2021
Mrs Co Thi Hien is a 30-year-old entrepreneur from Ban Xeo Commune, Bat Xat District in Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province who established the Hung Hien Arrowroot Vermicelli Production Facility.
Mrs Hien’s family has been producing vermicelli, a type of noodle made in long slender strands, for three generations. It is a tradition she wanted to maintain, but she also recognised the business opportunities that vermicelli production offered.
Hung Hien vermicelli is produced using a locally grown red arrowroot plant that grows well in Ban Xeo Commune due to the suitable soil and climatic conditions. No preservatives are added to the vermicelli and the noodles are hand-made at all stages – from pouring the powder into cakes, drying the cakes and then slicing into vermicelli strands. The noodles are recognised as being of high quality and sales are often the result of word-of-mouth recommendations.
While Mrs Hien’s enterprise was doing well, it was not reaching its full potential and she was struggling to compete with other production facilities in the region. This was partly due to Hung Hien noodles being packed in plastic bags without labels or professional packaging and a lack of active marketing.
In 2019, the Hung Hien Facility produced 6-8 tonnes of vermicelli and recorded annual revenue of approximately VND 450 million with VND 200 million in profit. Mrs. Hien hired four casual workers whose monthly income was around VND 4-5 million.
In 2020, Mrs Hien joined a project implemented via a partnership between the Australian Government-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program and the Lao Cai Provincial Women’s Union that focused on supporting female entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Mrs Hien gained new knowledge and skills including business management, value chain-based production and consumption linkages, and administrative and legal procedures. She also received support and advice on business management and brand registration and was supported to attend a product promotion trade fair.
The project provided Mrs Hien with several ideas for the Hung Hien Facility. This included diversifying the product line to include vermicelli made from ginseng, which would be suitable for people on a diet or diabetics. The project also supported Mrs Hien to design product labels and packaging that included traceability details and encouraged her to apply to be part of the One Commune One Product program.
Mrs Hien also received support to create market links and advertise her products via different channels including agents, department stores, supermarkets, leaflets, word-of-mouth and social media platforms such as Facebook and Zalo.
Hung Hien products are now sold in a wide range of food stores in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Yen Bai, Thai Binh, Vung Tau, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong and Vinh Phuc provinces. In 2020, the Hung Hien Facility’s productivity and profitability increased significantly compared to 2019. It produced 12 tonnes of arrowroot vermicelli, generating revenue of VND 920 million, and a profit of VND 300 million.
The Hung Hien Facility is contributing substantially to the local economy, providing jobs with a stable average monthly income of VND 6 million for 14 workers (three male and 11 female). The Facility also purchased 150 tonnes of red arrowroot from farmers in Ban Xeo commune and adjacent communes, including Pa Cheo, Den Thang, Ngai Thau, and Coc My communes, creating additional jobs for 20 households.
“This project is a unique opportunity for me to make my dream come true, to generate income for my family, and jobs for many people,” said Mrs Hien.
Mrs Hien is now applying for the Hung Hien Facility to be established as a cooperative.
Adding to her success to date, Mrs Hien was recognised with an award as part of the 2020 Provincial Women’s Start-up Day. She also received an honorary certificate of merit from the Chairman of the Lao Cai Provincial People’s Committee for outstanding achievements in economic development between 2018 and 2020.