Ho Chi Minh | Vietnam
How does iCare Benefits work?
Paweł Górski: iCare Benefits was created to help factory workers to increase the quality of their life. The problem of many workers around here is that they have quite low salaries so when they want to buy things like a fridge or phone, they find it difficult to pay in cash. So they have to borrow money and, as we found out in our research, they borrow usually from the black market, which has really high interests, 10-20% per month. Sometimes all in all they pay double for the product. It’s not fair that if you earn more you pay less than if you earn less. iCare Benefits makes it possible for workers to access all those products with market price and the payment is spread over 6 months. 6 months installments with no interests or any additional costs. What’s more, we always provide the opportunity to participate in the program through employers, who can treat it as an additional bonus for workers. The workers can take part in it only after one year working, so they become more loyal and don’t change company so easily. Thanks to us, shops save money on the space they have to rent for selling as well as on marketing. We buy quite a lot from them, so they are open to give us discounts. Then, we sell to workers at the market price and we earn on the difference between those two prices. Thanks to that we have money to operate and pay interests to the banks we borrow money from to pay for things workers buy.
It started in Vietnam, but a few months ago you moved to open a new branch in Thailand. What’s the biggest challenge there for you?
Finding more and more people who want to join us. I started here from nothing. I arrived in Bangkok knowing nobody. In Vietnam people are more business oriented, probably because they are often poorer and very motivated to change their life. In Thailand recruiting staff is much more challenging. We are a start-up, it’s not a 9-to-5 job, you work till it’s done. Not many people are ready to do that. But thanks to that a 25-years old guy like me can be one of the most important people in the company.
And how actually you, a Polish guy, ended up in South-East Asia?
Before I finished studying I decided I wanted to go for an adventure, challenge myself to go somewhere where nobody knows me and try to do something. I was part of AIESEC, so I decided to apply to manage AIESEC in another country. I had one expectation: I wanted to go to a place where people care, otherwise it would be a waste of time. I talked by skype with a few students from Vietnam and I was inspired by their drive. They were very engaged and ambitious.
What made you interested in social issues and willing to contribute?
It’s a good feeling, you feel better when you help. My thesis was about economy and altruism. I appreciate organizations which make money doing good. Why are cigarette companies or banks with huge interests rich and people who try to help can’t? It should be the opposite. I was always interested in organizations which had it figured out how to make money on win-win situations.
And what is it needed to create such a kind of organization?
Leadership. Many things are included in that, like networking, communication, management. But also having vision, caring, taking actions. Leaders see something which is a gap, a problem, an issue and they care to change it. They are bold enough to make the first step and they have the social skills to inspire others to join.
More about iCare Benefits: icarebenefits.com