Wednesday, July 17 2019

VietNamNews

From flutes to straws

Update: July, 13/2019 - 08:24

 

 

Nguyễn Văn Mão, the young businessman who loves to make flutes. — Photo tiin.vn

 

The name Nguyễn Văn Mão, or Mão Mèo (Cat), is quite well known in the national start-up community.  

 

Harbouring a passion for bamboo flutes since he was a senior at college in 2012, Mão now earns VNĐ25–30 million (US$1,000–1,300) per month from selling his instruments. In 2013 he opened his first shop selling mostly bamboo flutes and other musical instruments. Four years later he had 23 stores all over the nation, with total revenue of over VNĐ2 billion ($85,700). 

However, Mão would rather be better known for his bamboo straw business. 

The 32-years-old from Nghệ An Province is the owner and founder of three bamboo straw plants, one in Hà Nội (which also produces bamboo flutes), one in Đồng Nai and one in the process of being built in the Central Highlands. 

Mão nurtured his bamboo plan for over a year, and now his products are exported to Germany and India, and he is in negotiations to ship them to other countries like Australia, the US, Finland and Poland. 

Each day, his plants produce 100,000 straws, earning VNĐ60–80 billion ($2.5 – $3.4 million) a year, and that figure is expected to reach VNĐ150 billion ($6.4 million). Besides, he creates jobs for 200 in-house workers and 120 labourers

Mão also wants to invest in bamboo brushes, spoons and cups. If his project goes as planned, his star will continue to rise. 

Bamboo straws – a golden opportunity

 “I feel like I have a connection with bamboo that has created a surprising result for both sides,” said Mão.  

He recalled his idea began from a conversation with a foreigner

 “Beautiful flute! Do you have the same in a smaller size? 

 “For what?”

“To make straw.” 

It brought to mind the image of rượu cần (rice wine in terra cotta vase), which used to be drunk through long bamboo stems

“In recent years, social networks have been full of concerns over plastic waste. Images of turtles and fish choking on plastic straws are like a red alert for many people," said Mão. 

The young man saw this was a God given chance, while he also had experience with the source, so he decided to grab it. The first orders were failures, as the boiled tubes were too wet or got burned. Other times, they had a strange smell and unattractive colour.

After experimenting with the technique, now he is finally happy with the results, he said. 

His products can be found up and down Việt Nam, and he has displayed them at international trade fairs. 

“Many developed countries in Europe and Asia are taking environmental issues seriously, and some have banned plastic straws while they do not have bamboo in their natural habitation," he said.

“It is really a potential market.” 

Safeguard or damage nature? 

With over 100,000 chaffs produced every day, the exploitation of natural resources is huge, which is a question Mão gets asked a lot. 

But according to him, the answer is safeguarding. 

“Chaffs can be reused many times for a maximum of six months. They are biodegradable, so they do not cause harm to the environment, and can be used as an alternative to plastic. 

"The materials to make chaffs can be reused every two years. The exploitation of this plant has also developed the surrounding vegetation and limited deforestation. Although it is only small-scale, better late than never," he said.

Do your best and let God do the rest! 

The young entrepreneur talks frankly about his ambitions.

“I think the same problem for many young start-ups is they are afraid of what people say about them. Many fail to see what future might hold for them, so they give up," Mão said. 

"People say that if you follow your passion, success will follow, but for me it is just a bonus and only temporary

"The biggest question to ask yourself is: 'If you dare you can succeed or fail. If you do not dare, you’ll get nothing back.' 

"When starting something, remember not to put money first. When I was younger, I tried to make good flutes to give to people; I only thought about selling them later on. Those people became regular clients, and there was no calculation in it. If you think of profit first, once you lose your capital, you will quickly give up. 

"Finally, when you decide to do something, give it your best shot.”

“I am grateful to be able to preserve and promote a cultural value. Ten years ago, it was rare to find someone playing the flute. Now I see it more," he said. 

"I should be proud of it as it shows traditional musical instruments are making a comeback. I want to make the best flutes for the community, and I will keep doing it for years to come.” — VNS


 

 

GLOSSARY

Harbouring a passion for bamboo flutes since he was a senior at college in 2012, Mão now earns VNĐ25–30 million (US$1,000–1,300) per month from selling his instruments.

 To harbour a passion means to keep a passion.

If you have passion for something, you love it so much that you do not mind how much time or money you spend on it.

Four years later he had 23 stores all over the nation, with total revenue of over VNĐ2 billion ($85,700). 

Revenue is money that is earned.

Mão nurtured his bamboo plan for over a year, and now his products are exported to Germany and India, and he is in negotiations to ship them to other countries like Australia, the US, Finland and Poland. 

To nurture something means to look after it when it is young and growing.

Exported means “sold to buyers in other countries”.

Negotiations are serious talks, or discussions.

Besides, he creates jobs for 200 in-house workers and 120 labourers

Labourers are workers, especially those who work in jobs that do not need people with skills.

Mão also wants to invest in bamboo brushes, spoons and cups.

To invest in something means to put money into it in the hope of making more money out of it.

He recalled his idea began from a conversation with a foreigner

A conversation is a chat.

A foreigner is someone from another country.

It brought to mind the image of rượu cần (rice wine in terra cotta vase), which used to be drunk through long bamboo stems

The stem of a plant is the area at the bottom of the plant that branches come out of. 

“In recent years, social networks have been full of concerns over plastic waste.

Social networks are online platforms people use to communicate with one another.

Images of turtles and fish choking on plastic straws are like a red alert for many people," said Mão. 

Images are pictures.

People, and animals, choke when something becomes stuck in their throats and they cannot breathe properly, or they cannot breathe at all.

Other times, they had a strange smell and unattractive colour.

If something is unattractive to you, you would not want anything to do with it.

After experimenting with the technique, now he is finally happy with the results, he said. 

To experiment with something means to try it out to see if it works.

“Many developed countries in Europe and Asia are taking environmental issues seriously, and some have banned plastic straws while they do not have bamboo in their natural habitation," he said.

If something is banned it is not allowed.

A natural habitation is a place where something lives in nature, with the correct amount of food and shelter that it needs.

“It is really a potential market.” 

Potential means possible.

With over 100,000 chaffs produced every day, the exploitation of natural resources is huge, which is a question Mão gets asked a lot. 

Chaffs are the part of a crop that is not used.

When something, like natural resources, are exploited, the exploiter makes use of it for his or her use but in a way that it does no good for the natural resources.

Natural resources are things that are provided by nature that can be useful to people and animals.

“They are biodegradable, so they do not cause harm to the environment, and can be used as an alternative to plastic. 

If something is biodegradable it can be broken down and returned to nature rather than becoming pollution.

An alternative is something different that serves the same purpose.

“The exploitation of this plant has also developed the surrounding vegetation and limited deforestation.”

Deforestation is the process of chopping down trees in a forest.

The young entrepreneur talks frankly about his ambitions.

An entrepreneur is someone who turns ideas into businesses.

Frankly means straightforwardly and honestly.

A person’s ambitions are what he or she hopes to one day become and works towards that.

"People say that if you follow your passion, success will follow, but for me it is just a bonus and only temporary

A bonus means “something extra”.

Something that is temporary does not last forever

“Those people became regular clients, and there was no calculation in it.

Your clients are people who provide you with work, or business.

A calculation is a sum.

 “I am grateful to be able to preserve and promote a cultural value.

To preserve something means to keep it as it always was.

To promote something means to say good things about it so that people think highly of it.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Nguyễn Văn Mão’s advice to people is that when they start a business they must think of money first and then think of delivering a good product.
  2. Nguyễn Văn Mão would have been born three decades ago.
  3. Rice wine in a terra cotta vase would always be drunk through a plastic straw.
  4. More people play bamboo flutes now than 10 years ago.
  5. Chaffs cause harm to the environment.

 

 

 

ANSWERS: 1. False; 2. True; 3. True; 4. True; 5. False

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