The business is raking in the cash
In order to further explore their untapped potential, some Vietnamese millennials are choosing to leave bland office work behind in lieu of establishing business in the middle of nowhere.
In Vietnam, the homestay and green agriculture industries are starting to boom. “Mama’s Homestay” is a prime example of that success.
Operated by Le Hong Thai, 27, the business has been earning its fair share of media attention for its peculiarly positioned and designed rows of cabins managed by an eccentric caretaker.
Houses of shades
After graduating college, Thai tried his hand at several different jobs across the country.
But it was during a trip to Moc Chau District, a popular tourist spot in the northern mountainous province of Son La that he found his calling.
Originally he hoped to work in the green agriculture industry, but his parents fervently protested the idea, claiming it was preposterous for a college graduate to pursue a farmer’s life.
Instead, he found himself working in a homestay, a job his parents deemed him worthy of.
Using the money earned at that job, he outright purchased a 2,000 square meter plot at Ban Ang, a local pine wood attraction.
“Homestays were a far-fetched notion at the time,” Thai shared. “And the idea of establishing lodgings amid nature was quite rare, so why not?” he added.
Putting the plan into motion, Thai researched Thailand’s homestay model, and constructed row after row of wooden cabins in the trees surrounding the local foothills.
In 2017, he opened the business, calling it “Mama’s Homestay.” Besides being the property owner, Thai provided all the services his patrons required, all by himself.
That meant room cleaning, bed making, cooking, to leading them all the way from the streets to his homestay haven, among other things.
Now that his business has managed a fair share of reputation, the endeavor has been running smoothly, yielding as much as VND180 million (US$7,802) monthly during peak tourism season. “I have been endowed with lots of newfound experience ever since I started this wild goose project. I’m truly glad I did it,” Thai remarked.
Vegetables in green - business in black
While Thai prospers with his homestay, another group of Vietnamese youngsters is finiding success in running Chimi - a green agriculture-and-tourism model, also in Moc Chau.
Equipped with ample agrarian knowledge, Vu Van Luc, 28, and his colleagues bought a 1,000 square meter land plot in Moc Chau to sow strawberry seeds in 2015.
Earlier this year, the group expanded their crop to 5,000 square meters. While the first crop yielded no surplus value, the following harvests were so much lucrative, allowing them to rake in VND1 billion (US$43,325).
But the group did not stop there. In the future, they aim to incorporate tourism into the grand scheme. “Tourists may want to see how strawberries are sowed, nurtured, and then harvested,” Chimi co-founder Dao Trong Hung, 26, said.
After lots of planning, the group also decides to expand their homestay business toward Ban Ang pine wood.
As the site is popular among tourists, adjacent strawberries plantations and fields easily enjoy the buff. For Trong Hung, petitioning for the parents’ seal of approval is always the most grueling process.
But with concrete proof, it is doable. “In my case, I invited them to Moc Chau District six months after me,” Hung shared. “As my hard labor unfolded in front of them, they agreed to let me continue,” he chuckled.
With so many strawberries, it is no wonder Chimi generates job for more than 30 people all year round. The number could rise up to 50 during harvest seasons.
Additionally, they even make strawberry-based souvenirs in parallel with wholesaling, so the occupation rate never falters.
In the future, Chimi intends to expand the business to other nearby locations and provinces, as well as open green agriculture workshops for children.
But Chimi still keeps admission free to their plantations. As important as the profit is, they hope their expansion can co-exist harmoniously with, rather than sully nature.