In the late 90s of the last century, I was taken by a huge surprise with the breakneck growth in the number of mortorbikes in Vietnam, which was inevitably followed by equally rapid surge in fatalities and concussion cases attributed to traffic accidents. I was shocked to see most victims were painfully young, most of whom were just graduating from high schools, and would likely become the main supporters in their families in the future. Why could this happen in a country that boasted one of the highest post-natal vaccination rates of the world?
I commissioned my own researches and realized that lack of affordable and climate appropriate helmets, as well as their unstylish designs and monochromatic colors among the causes. I assumed that the solution was quite simple, but it was immediate action that mattered. If we could only save one life, it was still worth it.
In 2001, with huge support from our numerous friends, our families, and in particular our sponsors, we built Protec plant – the first non-profit helmet production in the world – an extended social enterprise. We put together our ideas of designing a “cool” helmet that are attractive to the young people. We measured thousands of heads to create designs that varied in style, but still convenient, nice-fitting and user friendly. The path we’ve chosen is full of challenges. But since the mandatory helmet law that applies to motorbike users came into effect in 2007, fatalities have dropped by 33.500 and severe injuries from traffic accidents have plummeted by 670,000. Vietnam saved approximately 4.5 billion dollars in medical cost, lost productivity, pain and sufferings. Our plant is employing roughly 200 staff, and one third of direct on site workers are people with disabilities, some of whom are just victims of traffic accidents.
Protec’s profit is channeled to projects for the sake of the community, including educational campaigns to raise awareness about traffic safety and projects to tackle fake and counterfeited helmets. We have relentlessly strived to survey and research to put to fruition new products, particularly those for children. We take great pride in our past accomplishments over those years, which would be well out of reach without support from our sponsors and dear customers of Protec.
Chairman and Founder