A letter from the founder
In the late 1990s, I was appalled by the dramatic increase of motorcycles in Vietnam, and the accompanying death and traumatic brain injuries caused by road crashes. I was most shocked that nearly all victims seemed to be young people who were newly educated and, more often than not, the family breadwinner. How could this be happening in a country with one of the world’s highest vaccination rates at birth?
I commissioned a study that quickly discerned that a lack of affordable, climate-appropriate helmets, as well as unstylish designs and monochromatic colors, were key inhibitors. I realized there was a potentially simple solution – and a dire need for action. If we could save even one life, it was worth it.
By 2001, with the support of countless friends and family, and the philanthropic generosity of other donors, we opened the doors to Protec – the world’s first nonprofit helmet plant, and a scalable social enterprise. We marshaled in a line of ‘cool’ helmets that young people would want to purchase. We measured thousands of heads, crafted comfortable fittings, and designed a diverse array of styles.
Our road has been paved with challenges. But, since the adoption of a national Vietnamese helmet law in 2007, 33,500 fatalities and 670,000 serious injuries have been prevented. Vietnam has saved an estimated 4.5 billion USD in medical costs, lost output, pain, and suffering. Today we employ more than 200 people nationwide. And, one-third of our factory workforce are people with disabilities – some are even the victims of road crashes themselves.
Protec net revenues are poured back into community programs, including educational activities, public awareness campaigns, and combating counterfeit helmets. We are constantly developing and designing new models, especially for children. We are very proud of our accomplishments to date, which have been made possible thanks to generous supporters and customers such as yourselves.
Chairman and Founder