Bùi Thế Bảo (right) and Đỗ Thị Minh Trang (left) hope to raise environmental awareness through VECA, a scrap trading app. – VNS Photo Diệp Phan
HCM CITY – A set of innovative applications named VECA launched last month has allowed users to call scrap collectors in HCM City.
“VECA is an abbreviation for ve chai (scrap). We wanted the name to be simple and easy to remember,” Đỗ Thị Minh Trang, the co-founder of the app, told Việt Nam News.
There are two versions of the app: one for sellers, which connects them to scrap collectors, and another for collectors and scrap stores.
The suite of applications provides a payment solution via e-Wallet, which offers fast transactions and generates good profits from scrap trading.
The aim is to encourage locals to donate scrap and not throw it away, increase collectors' incomes, and help protect the environment.
Scrap collectors can use the app to optimise their trade routes and save time.
“Before the app, I used to visit different alleys and streets looking for sellers, so it was very time-consuming. Now with the app I can just travel straight to my order destinations, so it wastes less time. My income has also improved because I get more orders,” Nguyễn Thị Ánh, a scrap collector in Phú Nhuận District, said.
Collectors can choose a small cart or a motorbike, if the order is small, to carry the scrap.
No fees are charged. The prices of scrap found on the app are not dictated by VECA, but are market prices.
Prices of scrap found on the VECA app are dictated by market prices. – VNS Photo Diệp Phan
“Some scrap collectors do not trust our model. They think that the app takes a percentage cut like ride-hailing services, but VECA does not do that. The maintenance cost for the app at this stage does not rely on this service,” Trang said.
VECA will have two development stages. The first will be connecting sellers, buyers and scrap stores. After trading starts to increase, VECA will sell large quantities of scrap to recycling facilities. The profit from that will sustain the service.
“VECA is run with our personal funds, so currently it is limited. We are calling for investors," Trang said.
Gaining trust is still the biggest challenge and the app creators have been working to show collectors and scrap stores how they can benefit.
Scrap collectors also tend not to be technologically savvy. Orders thus had to be written down for them at first and volunteers are there to help them use the app.
After a month of piloting the app in Phú Nhuận District, the app now has 18,000 installations and has attracted 10 scrap collectors and two stores in the district.
VECA aims to expand to different districts in the next six months and cover the entire city by the end of this year.
VECA has attracted 10 scrap collectors and two stores in Phú Nhuận District after a one-month trial. – VNS Photo Diệp Phan
The app works on both Android and iOS. Feedback on these platforms and directly from collectors has helped the app improve its quality.
“Before this app, when I wanted to sell scrap I had to wait for collectors to happen to visit my street. Now with just a few clicks, one will come to buy from me. The prices are also transparent and reasonable,” said Lý Kiến Nghĩa, who has used the app three times.
VECA is one of 15 startups chosen to join the training camp of the “NINJA Accelerator in HCM City” programme, a startup piloted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
JICA representative Lim Boon Bow said: "VECA is contributing to the production of products from recycled materials and raising environmental awareness."
Hà Nội and HCM City generate 16,000 tonnes of waste annually. Of the amount, 50-70 per cent contains compounds that can be recycled and create new energy sources, but only 10 per cent is recycled, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. – VNS