Hai Ho- Save the Ocean
On the 28th October, 2017, UNDP Viet Nam and Youth Co:Lab held a SDG Innovation Challenge at the Hatch! Fair in Ho Chi Minh City. The purpose of this challenge was to encourage young people in Viet Nam to develop innovative ideas to help accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. One of the winning projects was “Save the Ocean”, a reusable water bottle refilling system. Hai Ho, who already has a travel business, pitched the project alongside some of his partners.
Briefly explain your project.
“Save the Ocean” is a smart bottle of water refill system, where you have an ocean friendly bottle and you can use that bottle to refill in a nearby station within an app. So, instead of buying new plastic bottles from the convenience store every time you get thirsty, now you just have one bottle. And whenever you drink all the water inside the bottle, you can walk to a coffee shop, a convenience store, a hotel, to touristic attractions [and find a refilling station]. Right now, we already have more than 300 locations confirmed within Saigon and more than 500 across Vietnam. We are also extending this network to 5 countries. So, actually, with just one bottle you will be able to travel around the world and refill the water. There will also be an application, which will record your refill times and the location. So it could be fun and exciting- at the end of the day you can know how many plastic bottles you have saved. One refill, one bottle saved.
How did you come up with the idea?
This idea actually came from my daughter. When my daughter, Apple, was 5 years old, she asked me: “Daddy, can you write a letter to the factory to stop releasing smoke to the sky?” and I said “Yes, I am happy to write the letter”. Another day she asked: “Can we start using less plastic?”, because she doesn’t like to see plastic bottles. So that question stuck in my mind, and because we’re running a travel business, we see a lot of plastic bottles inside the hotel rooms. So that’s where the question of what we are doing right now came from.
What is the role of entrepreneurship in development?
I think, for example, 90% of the people who support our project are from the private sector, so they are small business owners who have a retail location, they are willing to share their space with us. But, to us surprisingly, the public sector also allows us to use their space. They don’t need a long bureaucratic process, for example, the Police Museum in Hanoi gave us a space for a refill station within two hours of asking them. Both sectors are important in development.