In late August, Organica was invited to join Mindful Market Forum in Bangkok, Thailand and share our start-up story. Thao, the managing director, represented Organica in particular to visited and delivered Organica heart-touching story of how and what drives her establish Organica. 

Below is her full speech:

"Good afternoon lady and gentlemen, and my fellow organic professionals.

At first, I would like to give the table a quick introduction about myself. My name is Pham Phuong Thao and you guys can just call me Thao for short. I’m one of the representative from Vietnam currently working in organic food chain supply called Organica, organic with an ‘a’ in the end. It sounds friendly, doesn’t it.

And I was so honored to be invited here by miss Wallapa to share my story, and I found a lot of ways of how to address my story to make it appear professional, but in the end I chose not to. So I will tell you my very very first reason I came up with Organica. It is very simple, it’s ‘mother instinct’. Back in the days, I was very unconscious, not care so much about the food I consumed since all of my previous profession before Organica have no relation to it. And then it all changed when I found out there would be a little baby growing up in my belly. It hit me very hard when I was pregnant sick and could not eat anything else but raw vegetables. And I think you guys all have very deep concern about the current state of vegetables not only in Vietnam but all around the globes. There is pesticides, growth stimulants, chemical fertilizers, preservatives and I have to mention the huge mess happening right now: ‘gmo’. And that is just all the surface of what we see every day, if I started to speak about the remaining messy, nasty I won’t be able to stop.

And with that in mind, I gave birth to Organica the same time I gave birth to my baby. Through all up and down that I will present later, not a single day pass by did I think about changing my working principle and Organica’s value. My principle is very simple. I work for the safety of my family as well as the safety of every other family in Vietnam. Very simple, right? And not to make you guys confused, Organica not only sell veggie, but also every other goods that have organic certificate. I want to make Organica an organic supermarket. You could not only eat organic vegetables and still have your belly digested normal rice, meat and use regular seasoning as well as bathing normal body care products and clean your house with chemical-nasty goods, right?

To expand my topic and make it specific, let's me tell you about farming. My farming principles could be shortened and called ‘5 PROHIBITION’ – Non GMOs, no chemical fertilizers, no chemical growth stimulants, no preservatives and no chemical pesticides (insecticides).

Through two and half a year working in this organic industry, we realized the real challenges is much bigger than we expected. Not so many people are even aware of the existence of such thing as organic food. That is why the total amount of our customers are very limited. But we are working with those who are also interested in changing people lives and make it better and join them to organize monthly green fair with the theme is all about organic food, natural food, go green for environment. This is going pretty well and bring a lot of great feedback.

The second challenge comes from limited knowledge and technical support. The way we grow our business is to execute and learn through at the same time since there are not so many experts available for us to consult. Consequently, the outcome are not exactly what we have expected.

And the biggest of biggest road-block, staying on top of the list, obviously, finance. For instance, let’s talk about the cost of getting organic certificate. For a new, young and small company like us, that number, estimated to be around $3000 - $6000 per 2 hectare a year is could be a very huge deal. Besides, we all need financial support to develop the systems, extend our business and invest in technology.

There are just a few challenges that Organica and me in particular have faced so far. But none of that could drag me down because I could sense its huge growth in just a next few years and more important than that, customer feedback and buying behavior is changing through days.

As all the topic I addressed so far, you probably could see that organic food in Vietnam is still very pricey. To help people achieving organic food and promote them nationwide, we would not only need investment, but also the policy of the government. But that is macroeconomics so I might stop right here. I would just hope that more people know about organic and Organica therefore, the total amount of customer rises and consume more goods. And when we have enough money, we could produce mass and lower the price. It’s a circle that needs everyone involve in order to grow fast.

I just give you the overall view of how organic industry have been going in Vietnam and the work of Organica so far. There is challenges and a lot of downside, but I believe in myself as I see where the industry’s going to stand in the near future and I believe in people consciousness and ability of willing to change their lifestyle.

Thanks for listening."

Photo: Thao (white Vietnamese traditional dress, in the middle) with all of the participants from Mindful Market Forum