We first met Ha and Thanh in September 2014.
Ha and Thanh are married and work together as tailors. 26 years ago they moved abroad for four years in order to earn enough to afford a tiny room to work from in the city of Hue, Vietnam. They recently received an equipment loan enabling them to employ more people and produce better quality clothes. Access to the loan was through Fashion 4 Freedom, our partner, who also provide extensive training on running a business. Instead of being repaid, Ha and Thanh pay the loan 'forward' by training apprentices in the art of tailoring. In addition to the apprentices, they employ 10 people who work in their unit, and a further 5 home workers.
It was a privilege meeting Ha and Thanh and seeing their commitment to their responsibilities. One example of where they go above and beyond the 'norm' with their staff is how they treat their homeworkers. The norm for home workers is that they are responsible for collecting the fabric from the shop/factory and delivering the finished product when it is completed. Ha and Thanh do this for them at their cost.
This might not seem like much but we then met Quy and heard his story.
Quy started work as a tailor at 14 and bought his first machine at 16. He is extremely driven and entrepreneurial. He currently earns $10.15 for each pair of trousers he makes for a factory whose client is a luxury brand; the trousers sell for $200. The problem is he can't afford to live near the factory, so everyday he has to travel 6 hours return on the bus, at a total cost of $20, to pick up the fabric and deliver the trousers he has made. He is being outsourced to by the factory. Fabric is expensive so they will only give him enough fabric for 3 pairs of trousers. He has just received a capital loan so once he has finished being trained, he will make products directly for brands such as Visible. Now in a period of testing (he gets paid for the work he does during this period) with Fashion 4 Freedom, he is looking forward to producing clothes directly for brands, growing his business, and one day providing employment opportunities for others.
Ha and Thanh with their apprentices
Ha and Thanh's staff working, and their apprentices being trained