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|AIP Foundation and Protec support workers with disabilities|
|Protec offers people with disabilities training and stable jobs|
Twenty years ago when traffic deaths and serious injuries were skyrocketing in Vietnam and other developing countries, Greig Craft, an American entrepreneur in Vietnam, founded AIP Foundation – a non-profit organisation delivering effective road safety interventions focusing on research, education, infrastructure, advocacy, and communication.
What started in Vietnam as Helmet for Kids, AIP Foundation’s first school-based programme launched in collaboration with former President Bill Clinton, has since expanded to comprehensive programmes, each designed to address the unique communities around the globe.
Not long after AIP Foundation was founded, Protec was developed to provide access to affordable, climate-appropriate helmets. Protec is a social enterprise that focuses on funnelling its funds back into the community through initiatives implemented by AIP Foundation and by creating vocational training and stable jobs at Protec for people with disabilities.
“While there are government subsidies and organisations to support people with disabilities, these individuals continue to face various challenges affecting their livelihoods. The goal is to provide individuals with disabilities with real job experiences by creating employment opportunities in integrated and inclusive work settings,” said Craft.
Craft calls these initiatives “social enterprises”, noting that up to a third of his 150-200 workers are physically disabled. “The goal is to give people with disabilities an opportunity to work so they can feed and care for themselves and their families, and also do something good for society.
Many of the workers are physically disabled from traffic crashes or birth anomalies, but they are among the most productive of our Protec employees. They learn quickly, and are adaptable to any situation, even if in a wheelchair,” he explained.
Not only supporting employment for people with disabilities, to address the global personal protective equipment shortages for frontline staff, AIP Foundation reimagined Protec’s state-of-the-art helmet manufacturing facility as one that could also produce basic protective facemasks for distribution in countries significantly impacted by the pandemic, including the United States and in Europe, along with helmets.
Production activities were rapidly commenced. Not only saving lives globally, the project also contributes to the local and regional economy by purchasing supplies and securing jobs. Thanks to special adaptations within the factory, all employees are able to work safely and comfortably, and will now be able to continue to provide for their families.
With production launched in July, the installation of specialised production lines has enabled AIP Foundation and Protec to deliver 3-5 million masks per month to frontline workers and communities with inadequate resources.
“Standards are essential for a product like this, but the huge quantities required worldwide have been so great that some producers are taking shortcuts in quality. We don’t,” Craft emphasised.
AIP Foundation and Protec have obtained FDA registration and relevant ISO certification, and both utilise clean rooms in the factory that exceed most international hygiene standards. Prices are offered at a stable and affordable rate, due to the enterprise’s mission to ensure safety remains accessible. They are eager to make contact with hospitals and relevant authorities to offer affordable and high quality masks.
“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,” said Craft.