Member: Dau Thi Nguyen

Age: 52

Living: Cua Lo, Nghe An Province

Jellyfish processing – a startup of the woman who loves her hometown Cua Lo

From a small seafood business with precarious profit, the family of Ms. Dau Thi Nguyen, Cua Lo town, Nghe An province, has successfully started and built up her own brand name Jellyfish Nguyen Dat.

Ms. Dau Thi Nguyen is TYM’s member in Cua Lo, Nghi Loc, Nghe An. Before owning such the business as currently, Nguyen’s family was recorded as a low-income household; they had to take many jobs and sometimes had business failures leading to debt. It was extremely difficult time for them.

In 1995, they started their new business, i.e. fishing and selling of seafood, but their traditional way of doing business in a small scope led to modest profit. By 2002, her family decided to borrow capital to build a fishing boat; however, because of natural disasters and storms, she experienced frequent loss, pushing the family into accumulating debt and categorized as the poor household. They had to start over with empty hands by opening a small seafood store in Cua Lo. Until 2013, after a long period of consideration of the local jellyfish processing and careful study about the jellyfish market, Ms. Nguyen decided to open a jellyfish processing and storage facility. Before achieving the success as of today, she and her family have had to overcome many challenges and difficulties that seemed making them to give up many times.

Currently, Nguyen’s family owns 02 jellyfish storage and processing facilities with a capacity of more than 150 tons and a shop selling fresh seafood products. This is the main provider of jellyfish products for restaurants and hotels in Cua Lo. Her family’s jellyfish products are not only sold in many provinces and cities nationwide but also exported to China, Laos, Thailand and some European countries. This jellyfish processing facility has also created jobs for 15 regular and 50 seasonal workers with an average salary of VND 6 million/person/month. As a “mature” TYM member, i.e. from a low-income family when first joining TYM, her family has currently become better-off with stable income, Ms. Nguyen is willing to share her family valuable experiences.

“To solve problems, I have learned that acumen, perseverance, ingenuity, and creditworthiness at work are important; for each difficulty, we should point out various solutions then choose the most optimal. Business also needs to be risky, assertive, dare to invest and willing to take risks” – Mrs. Dau Thi Nguyen

Lack of capital is the eternal and biggest difficulty that needs to be solved first

Lack of capital is the biggest difficulty in realizing a business plan. After years suffering from difficulties and losses in the fishing business, I got to know TYM in 2012. At that time, my family started again with a small seafood shop at Cua Lo fishing port. I still remember the day I knew about TYM’s loan model: no mortgage, cycle-based lending with increasing loan amount. At that time I immediately realized that this was the thing I needed; and more importantly, I felt that I would have TYM as a companion and that would open up for me the opportunity to learn. My first loan valued VND 10 million; it was not big, but at the right time when I was unable to manage and borrow from other sources. Therefore, this amount of money was very meant to the initial stage of business of my family. In 2013, I continued to borrow from TYM together with the family’s capital and loans and investment of relatives, we started to invest in building jellyfish storage tanks and processing facilities. Thanks to that, my family has “upgraded” from a small household business to a bigger one, building up our own brand name Jellyfish Nguyen Dat. We still take loans from TYM every year to supplement capital for our business.

I understand that to do a business, capital is very important. In addition to the family’s accumulated capital, we have mobilized and persuaded our relatives and friends to make investments; take advantage of local preferential policies for career development to seek loans from organizations, unions and banks.

Realizing the local potential and latent challenges to solve the problem sustainably

In Cua Lo, jellyfish is a kind of seafood with high quality and large reserves. However, fishermen cannot find a stable market, so they are often squeezed in term of price by traders. Despite the large jellyfish reserve, we lack the facilities to process and preserve jellyfish to supply during the peak tourism season. Many facilities look for additional jellyfish sources in other places, making the jellyfish brand in Cua Lo affected. It is especially affected if the source of jellyfish is not clear or its quality is not ensured due to transport from distance. So in 2013, I discussed with my family and decided to open the first large-scale jellyfish processing and storage facility in Cua Lo. During the first day, we encountered many difficulties, to name a some: how to build tanks as per the prescribed standards, how to purchase enough jellyfish, how to have enough investment capital etc. However, in order to be successful, we realized that it was important to store and reserve jellyfish in good quality.

Being out of the box, improving the brand name and value of products

During the first days, fishermen did not dare to sell jellyfish for us since they were afraid that we were unable to buy their goods in a long-run. I had to come to each ship owner to convince, let them have advance payment, consign their products at my warehouse, and at the same time contact other fishermen in the South to order seafood. Besides, we believe that the technical issue is very important and determines the value of the product, so my husband and I spent time going to Quang Ninh and some other places to learn from others and then draw out the way of preservation and processing suitable to the local situation. Over time, customers put their trust on the quality of our jellyfish products and gradually order more. As a result, the output supply is also more stable.