Vietnamese motorbike helmet social enterprise to produce surgical masks for Covid-19 crisis

13:04 | 29/04/2020 Companies

Face masks to protect from Covid-19 are to be produced by a Vietnamese social enterprise’s motorcycle helmet factory thanks to a new partnership to save lives and livelihoods by Vietnam-based non-profit AIP Foundation and the FIA Foundation, a global philanthropy promoting sustainable mobility and healthy environments.

To address the global personal protective equipment shortages for frontline staff, AIP Foundation and its social enterprise, the nonprofit helmet manufacturer Protec, are transforming a portion of their factory operations in Vietnam to produce surgical masks. The FIA Foundation will provide funds of €250,000 for the production lines of specialized machinery and equipment, and will also support global distribution efforts.

vietnamese motorbike helmet social enterprise to produce surgical masks for covid 19 crisis

Production will be ramped up quickly, starting with an initial capacity of 1.5 million masks per month. Not only saving lives globally, the project will also contribute to the local and regional economy by purchasing supplies and securing jobs. Protec employs over 200 employees in Vietnam, a significant proportion of whom are living with disabilities, a population for which employment is often a challenge. Thanks to special adaptions within the factory, all employees are able to work safely and comfortably, and will now be able to continue to provide for their families.

“Italy and the US are immediate targets, to be followed rapidly by other European countries, and then poorer developing nations,” says Greig Craft, President and Founder of AIP Foundation. “Italy and Vietnam enjoy a special relationship because of free medical surgeries for children carried out by a team of volunteer Italian surgeons that we have organized for the past nine years. When Covid-19 hit, I thought how could we make use of our large facility and workforce? As a US citizen living in Hanoi, I also felt an obligation to help my people back home,” Craft adds.

vietnamese motorbike helmet social enterprise to produce surgical masks for covid 19 crisis

Initially established by the FIA in 2001, FIA Foundation and FIA have been at the forefront of global road safety in collaboration with the WHO and United Nations. Executive Director of the FIA Foundation Saul Billingsley says “AIP Foundation and Protec have a world-renowned reputation for innovative approaches to saving lives. The FIA Foundation is proud to be working alongside them in this global emergency as the focus shifts from crash helmets to protective masks. We hope this partnership will play a part in tackling the global shortage of PPE as we all respond to Covid-19.”