Green Interview Series: Vụn Art - an inspiring social enterprise

Vụn Art, a place of love for many disadvantaged people, where they can work without discrimination, push their creativity to infinity and contribute their talents to the community. I have the privilege to conduct an interview with Vụn Art, so that the world can know more about their meaningful works for bother disadvantaged people and the environment in Vietnam!



Tram Anh: Hello Vụn Art, Welcome to our Interview Series! I would like to say a big fat thank you to everyone at Vụn Art for your great work in Vietnam! It is a truly inspiring business that generates multiple positive social impacts. For the first question, I would like to ask you to share with us some information about Vụn Art and its mission in Vietnam? Could you also share with us how you get inspired to start the business?


Vụn Art: Vun Art is a social enterprise running as a Cooperative. It was founded with the mission of providing vocational training and employment opportunities (making silk-grafted paintings) for people with disabilities (PwDs) who are residing in Hanoi. Our products primarily take inspiration from the folk painting genre of Vietnam, originating from Dong Ho, Hang Trong, Kim Hoang, Sinh village, and from around the world. We reuse leftover silk scraps from Van Phuc, a more than 1,000 years old silk village that provides the best silk in Vietnam, to protects its environment, and introduces its magnificent silk products to visitors domestically and internationally. By representing such traditional folk art with silk instead of its original materials, the aim is to revive the aesthetic values of the folk culture, promote heritage values, and satisfy the increasingly diverse demands of customers for more innovative products.


From the director to designers, craftsmen, and craftswomen, we are all working relentlessly day by day to demonstrate our values to society. We strive to disrupt the status quos and redefine that the products or services provided by the differently-abled are truly "live" by their own talent and effort instead of the public's sympathy for the vulnerable.


Our Missions are:

Vun Art was founded with the aspiration to contribute to solving 03 primary social issues:

- Preserving, maintaining, and developing Vietnamese traditional culture and world heritage.

- Securing social welfare, creating sustainable occupations for the vulnerable groups included PwDs.

- Reusing excess materials from the manufacturing of the silk village.


Our Vision is:

Vun Art desires to become the leading brand in providing handmade art gifts and ecotour, thereby creating vocational training, occupations and funding for PwDs.

Our Core values are:

CREATIVITY – PASSION – ENTHUSIASM - AUTONOMY - TRANSPARENCY


About our Materials:

Vụn Art chooses silk scraps as one of the primary raw materials for our products. Van Phuc village monthly discharges thousands of kilograms of scraps, resulting in not only a massive waste of resources but a severe threat to the surrounding environment. Under the skillful hands of Vun Art's craftsmen, the seemingly useless pieces of silk rags have been transformed into masterpieces of traditional art. Notably, Vun Art ensures that all materials used in our products are environmentally friendly.



Tram Anh: Could you share with us your greatest successes so far at Vụn Art? Could you share with us a particular story?


Vụn Art: The three most significant accomplishments we have proudly achieved so far include:

The first achievement is customers highly welcome our products, and our disabled artisans can earn a living from their job.


The second one is the shift in the public's perception towards PwDs: Often before, people would show sympathy for PwDs and didn't believe in the capacity or ability of PwDs to work. But, that mindset is considerably changing. People now perceive that PwDs can do many great jobs like their non-disabled counterparts. And they also acknowledge that disability-related matters are a social issue that the government and public need to pay more attention to. A case in point was the financial support of up to 50% of the People's Committee of Ha Dong District for VUN ART, such as office rent and equipment procurement like a laser-cutting machine, automatic pressing machine, etc.


And the last one is that PwDs themselves and their family members also change their thinking about PwDs. They no longer suffer from low self-esteem, try to hide their children's disability status, or hesitate to interact with the community.


Tram Anh: What challenges does Vụn Art find the most difficult to overcome, in both helping people with disadvantages and up-cycling fabric waste?


Vụn Art: The most significant difficulty VUN has been facing is the expansion of our business model. The products need to meet both commercialization requirements and suit what our disabled artisans have trained. Our services can be expanded; however, the issue of location (ground rent, finance to build and develop the experiential activities) is a massive challenge to VUN. Investors or businesses become reluctant to invest in a disability-based model due to the long payback period and potent high risk.


Tram Anh: What does sustainability mean to you? How sustainable do you think your business is? Could you please share with us some practices that your business is doing to improve the sustainability of the business?


Vụn Art: According to the assessment of UNESCO Vietnam, VUN ART is a sustainable creative model (preserve and introduce Vietnamese culture and elite of craft-village to the public through highly applicable products; creating jobs for PwDs and reusing raw materials to protect the environment). However, economic efficiency has not yet been achieved; thereby, VUN ART is sustainable in terms of employment value, not business model.



Tram Anh: For the last question, I would like to ask about your view on the future of social enterprises in Vietnam, especially those with sustainability factors in the core of the business. What support do you expect to receive from the government and the community?


Vụn Art: Personally, I think Vietnamese social enterprises are mainly micro-to-small and just developed somewhat spontaneously. There have been no such businesses that could scale up yet. For those impact business models to grow, it is necessary to have a synchronous policy from the government to change the public's perception of using the products/services of those impact business groups. And the business itself must clearly define its goal, which is mainly to raise sponsorship or do business.


Tram Anh: Thank you so much for the interview! It is a great pleasure to know more about you and how much you are helping people with disabilities. More importantly, your works are truly inspiring and I look forward to exciting products form the talented people at Vụn Art!


I hope you all like the article today. You can support Vụn Art by purchasing their products here. I truly believe in their success, and in order to develop the world as a better place, we need so many more businesses that tackle societal problems while maintaining a sustainable business!


For other resources, you can check this great list of books on my website here!


If you know any individual or company anywhere in the world that you think will be interested in an interview, please let us know!


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