by Do Truong
|Happy to be working: Nhan Ai Co Ltd has created stable jobs for nearly 30 visually impaired massagers.
|Doing the books: Nguyen Tan Loi has 90 percent sight impairment but he can still do his own accounts at his home.
Thirty-one-year-old Nguyen Tan Loi is visually impaired but that hasn't stopped him setting up a business to create stable massage jobs for about 30 of his colleagues.
Loi was born into a poor family in Duy Vinh Commune in central Quang Nam Province's Duy Xuyen district. In 1993, the family brought him to Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the blind and visually impaired in neighbouring Da Nang City.
There he took part in massage classes, a popular career for the visually impaired in the area, and in about three months became a professional massager. His teacher then introduced him to work at massage shops in the city where he gained experience.
However, he wasn't satisfied, as he recalls: "I understood how hard it was for people in the same situation to find a suitable and stable job and I dreamt of establishing a massage company to create jobs for the visually impaired."
Loi's dream became a reality in 2008 when he opened his own massage company, Nhan Ai (Humanity) Co, and invited his school friends to join him. They now have incomes of VND2 million (US$96) a month.
"Fortunately, my friends are good massagers so I don't have to take much time to train them."
As with many newly established firms, Loi faced difficulties renting rooms, buying equipment, paying salaries and building a reputation. But he overcame them, he says.
"Thanks to perserverance and management skills I learnt at school, I've been able to make the company operate stably."
He has since opened three others in Da Nang.
"The shops are decorated simply and often integrated with pharmacies so that people can easily recognise them."
To promote the company's image, Loi visited hotels to develop a business relationship.
"When a guest wants a massage, the hotel receptionists will send them to my nearest address."
The company also provides home visits for the elderly.
Loi says his company slogan "Service quality is the number-one priority" has helped him maintain a large number of regular clients.
His wife, Le Thi Thanh Thuy, 30, also a visually impaired student of the school, plays an important role as secretary of the company. They were married in 2004 and now have two boys, both with perfect eyesight.
Thuy studied music at the school and developed a good singing voice so the couple put together a seven-member band with Thuy as lead vocalist.
The musical instruments and sound system were all bought by the company, Loi says.
"This not only helps generate more jobs for my staff but also gives us the opportunity to take part in musical exchange programmes on holidays." The band often performs at charitable events in Da Nang and neighbouring Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces.
"We perform at four or five shows a month; plus we rent out our sound system to event organisers."
Thirty two-year-old masseur Nguyen Van Hai says he and his visually impaired friends have many reasons to thank Loi and his company.
"My friends and I have been able to find regular jobs," he says. "We don't have to tramp the streets to sell lottery tickets to make ends meet anymore."
Nguyen Van Hai, from Quang Nam, says: "Most of us here were born into poor families at the countrysides so to get a permanent job in a big city like Da Nang is really very lucky."
He says that after he graduated from Nguyen Dinh Chieu School he worked for some massage parlors but the jobs were not stable job. Then his friend introduced him to Loi's company.
"Currently, my wife is also on the company staff. Although, our monthly income is not a lot we're happy here," Hai says.
"Loi not only creates a good work environment for us to develop our skills but also helps us have an opportunity to actively integrate more into the community via the band's activities," Hai says.
Loi says he intends to launch a laundry service to expand the company. — VNS