Vietnam is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. But its crops – most notably rice –require a lot of water to flourish. In fact, 80% of total water production in the country is used for agricultural purposes.
That is a question faced by Lisa Miller, Senior Product Development Specialist from the Stationary & Office Supplies Division Laboratory and three 3M colleagues who traveled together to Vietnam in 2017 as part of the life-changing 3M Impact program.
3M Impact is a global community engagement program that encourages and supports 3M employees who want to share their talents to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Like water scarcity.
In 2017, 3Mgives launched this program and put out a call for employees who would be interested in addressing social issues in three countries in Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. After a rigorous application and interview process, 50 employees were selected to spend 10 working days over two weeks in one of these countries, partnering with a local social enterprise.
Lisa and her team traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where they worked with MimosaTEK, a small company with a technology product that monitors the moisture in soil, helping farmers optimize irrigation and increase crop yields. The team talked to local farmers. They estimated the total market opportunity, suggested potential partnership prospects and developed tools to help better identify farmers most likely to adopt their technology. They then helped MimosaTEK put together a business plan to significantly increase their sales.
Since returning home, the team has connected with MimosaTEK on a monthly basis to continue implementation of the plan they created together. According to Lan Anh Le, the Chief Operating Officer for MimosaTEK, “By helping to improve the strategies of local start-ups like MimosaTEK, 3M Impact in a way is making impacts on the local communities and environment where MimosaTEK operates.”
Looking back on the experience, Lisa says, “3M Impact provided me the opportunity to leverage my skill set to help solve real world problems, and, at the same time, to further develop my professional experience.”