By Sithasa Kanchanavijaya, Youth Co:Lab
Viet Nam is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products. But where do the leftovers go? Tons of fruit peels are discarded and decompose in landfills and water sources every month, causing unpleasant odor. When the rain washes away the pollution, it contaminates the water surface and groundwater in communities. The health of local people is at risk as they end up using and being exposed to the polluted water. Fruit Warrior was born out of desire to solve this problem and is on a mission to create a greener lifestyle for the world at large.
Do Xuan Tien, Le Duy Hoang and Bui Thi Bich Ngoc are the Co-Founders of FUWA “Fruit Warrior” Biotech. The team discovered Eco Enzyme, a multipurpose liquid produced from the fermentation of organic waste in 2016. They were inspired by its versatility, and by researching it further they were able to create organic detergent products with enzymes derived from nature. Their solution protects the ecosystem and contributes to creating a greener earth.
Tien and his team spent over two years on research and development. The goal is to develop natural products that are safe for human health and good for the environment. In an initial survey, they learned that 20 percent of consumers had skin problems from being frequently exposed to household cleaning products, and 80 per cent were willing to invest in healthier products.
While searching for the right formula, they found that pineapple would be the hero ingredient in their product composition. Organic acids in pineapple peel, like Bromelain enzymes, are natural detergents. In an experiment, a rusty steel knife was cleaner and sharper after being used to peel a pineapple.
In 2018, the sample products received up to 70 percent positive feedback. Dishwasher detergent was the first product to be launched and is most used by customers on a daily basis. It does not only clean dishes but also improves skin health. As a result, many users no longer need to wear gloves while washing the dishes and some recover from atopic dermatitis.
Every month, Fruit Warrior is able to collect up to ten tons of fruit peels for upcycling in their zero-waste factory. They offer practical solutions to climate change challenges such as purchasing garbage enzymes from local households, using residues of fermented enzymes as bio-fertilizers, and cleaning water sources and soil with wastewater from organic detergent usage.
“Our philosophy revolves around the world, “equality” meaning that we see the environment as a living entity that should be respected and treated equally the same way we treat our staff, partners, stakeholders and customers,” said Tien.
“We also promote a green lifestyle and maximize benefits for communities by setting up refill points and plastic bottle collection programmes to reduce single-use plastic waste in the environment,” he added.
One day, Tien was introduced to Youth Co:Lab by a friend. He was invited to showcase FUWA products at the Youth Co:Lab Viet Nam Competition 2020 where he won the First Runner-Up Award. His business has been actively joining events ever since. It entered into Top 20 at TechFest 2020, Top 10 Community Entrepreneurs at Blue Venture Award and gained at least 300 sales agencies and collaborators in Viet Nam. After successfully launching products in the local market, Fruit Warrior is now ready to explore the ASEAN and internal markets.
“We connected to experts, had opportunities to participate in bigger competitions, and became well-recognized by organizers,” Tien said. He thinks that mentoring programmes can help youth-led small to medium-sized startups go a long way.
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, FUWA Biotech has grown nationwide and the team expects that by 2023 they will serve at least 5 percent of Vietnamese consumers and export to other countries. The pandemic may slow things down, disrupt the supply chain and logistics and increase costs. But Fruit Warrior has taken this time to re-organize and re-improve internal resources, system and capacity to maintain sustainability for the future.
The story of FUWA Biotech would not be possible without the empowered youth social entrepreneurs and the people who believed that they could make a real change. “The first thing to do is to live, be realistic with your business model, and above all it is the spirit of not giving up. Always mindfully think about the purpose of your social impact startup, you will meet many supportive people and will succeed,” Tien said.
By 2025, FUWA Biotech aims to become an IPO-qualified enterprise with an Eco Enzyme application product ecosystem including household cleaning, industrial organic detergent and refill model, health care and beauty care. When no dream is too big, Fruit Warrior and the youth social entrepreneur network are acting fast to make a greener lifestyle within reach for all.
Click here to learn more about FUWA Biotech.
Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.