For Mekong Plus, a Vietnam & Cambodia-based non-profit organisation that strives to change rural lives through developing community projects relevant to infrastructure, education, agronomy and recycling, working with corporates that desire to give back to the less fortunate is paramount.
With a mission that is in line with the corporate social responsibility philosophies of many of today’s global businesses, Mekong Plus and its fabric-work-focused sister social enterprise Mekong Quilts are now working with over ten other organisations which together contribute to the growth and improvement of locals from five different provinces in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, its coastal region, and Cambodia.
Social impact that goes beyond simply monetary support
“Dragon Capital provided us with $50,000 and VND3,000,000,000 in 2022, which greatly strengthened our microcredit program!” Bernard Kervyn, Founding Director of Mekong Plus, expressed gratitude.
In Vietnam alone, three regions and almost 15,000 locals have benefited from microcredit loans made possible by Dragon Capital, an investment organisation based in south-east Asia with a focus on Vietnam. Locals who lack land and cannot obtain a mainstream bank loan have started cottage industries such as goat farming and anti-pest vegetable farms with Dragon Capital contributions.
A Mekong Plus beneficiary picking veggies up in her anti-pest vegetable garden.
About 7500 households are currently being served by the program as poverty conditions improve throughout the country.
Despite Dragon Capital’s chairperson Dominic Scriven’s initial unease about microfinance effectiveness in the region, Mekong Plus’ dedication to engaging the grassroots through mentorship and training means that locals are not simply showered with loans without adequate knowledge to help them grow.
“It’s not the big donors showing up in fancy cars. It’s on the ground!” Dominic explained.
With Dirox, an IT Advisory and Software Development company that oversees international partners in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, the consent of clients means that 1% of project earnings goes to NPOs including Mekong Plus and Alliance Anti-Traffic—organisations that place great emphasis on the well-being of women and a focus on creating sustainable work for underprivileged women through Mekong Quilts.
A quilter from Mekong Quilt working on a baby quilt.
Dirox matches the 1% contribution from clients by adding another 1% which has helped Mekong Plus’ scholarship and training programmes.
Thanks to Dirox’s experience in software-based project management systems, engineers at Dirox are also assisting Mekong Plus with developing an app-based alert system, empowering locals to report family abuse and unseen cases of distress without being directly involved.
“Our project leaders no longer need to rely on costly SMSes, [while] villagers no longer need to worry about being targeted by perpetrators,” Bernard clarified.
The app can also be used to share knowledge about the latest livestock vaccines, environmentally-friendly fertilisers, farming techniques, and more.
Creating social impact with an eco-friendly approach
Over at CMA CGM, one of the world’s largest marine container shipping companies, corporate responsibility efforts with Mekong Plus enter the realm of recycling possibilities.
The container giant visited Long My commune in Vietnam’s Hau Giang province where Mekong Plus develops the vast majority of its social innovations with help from local ‘sister’ NGO Ánh Dương Centre. Children from schools in the surrounding villages participated in waste collection drives planned and led by CMA CGM members.
Children collecting waste in their school.
“When plastic recycling is mentioned, local leaders become concerned about possible pollution,” Bernard added, adding an important insight, explaining how volunteers and engineers from both organisations are working together to design a sustainable pyrolysis facility—converting almost all fossil-fueled plastic into usable fuel through an emission-free burning process.
Through further collaborations with Vietnam-based furniture manufacturers such as SourceByNet, the logistics of creating furniture with recycled fabrics is simplified into a village-based manufacturing supply chain to reduce the environmental impact of transporting plastic waste.
Classroom furniture made with recycled plastic waste is also produced to give back to school children that Mekong Plus sees as the flag bearers of the initiative.
Beyond that, Mekong Quilts commitment to zero waste means leftover pieces of proprietary outdoor fabric from ScanCom International are transformed into designer cushions for both humans and pets with the help of its nimble-handed female artisans.
One of many Mekong Quilts cushion made from ScanCom textile.
“These cushions are then sold back to ScanCom to create income [for Mekong Quilts’ artisans],” Bernard explained.
For Jones Lang Laselle’s (JLL) global real estate services and management firm’s wing in Vietnam, a visit to Bình Thuận province involved pledging funds to building new facilities at a special needs school and engagement in time-tested tree planting activities with schoolchildren to amplify the vision of a green future.
A child planting trees in the Mekong Delta.
“Ultimately, Mekong Plus’ core vision revolves around education, which we believe to be the most effective path out of poverty,” Bernard explains.
Experience purpose-driven initiatives while helping Mekong Quilts
The most memorable moments of a purpose-driven life often comes with an element of creating good social impact as part of a larger group.
BNP Paribas opted for team-building adventure in Vietnam’s scenic Bình Thuận province where activities involving improving children education at public schools and tree planting meet mountain biking, trekking and visiting the culturally-rich Cham ethnic minority.
The BNP Paribas team with children of Bình Thuận province during their team-building.
With a new collaboration between Mekong Plus and off-the-beaten-track travel agency Voyage Copines, even solo travellers can enjoy the same—explore Vietnam through ecotourism, sustainability, and social impact in rural areas where locals benefit the most.
In addition, choose to experience Vietnam’s picturesque rural areas on Mekong Quilts’ pioneering bamboo bicycles, the first bicycles made from 100% local bamboo in Southeast Asia. Enjoy scenic rides along the grand Mekong’s distributaries while visiting workshops where Mekong Quilts’ artisans create quilts, water hyacinth crafts, and more.
If your organisation desires to pursue a purpose-filled team-building activity or CSR-centric experience together with Mekong Quilts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a tailor made solution today.
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