At last year’s Inclusive Business Matchmaking event in Ho Chi Minh City, Larry Nguyen, CEO of Hamona in Vietnam, sipped a drink of coconut water directly from the nut as he pitched to investors gathered at the event co-organised by Inclusive Business Accelerator, Vietnam Business Challenge Fund (VBCF) and SNV Vietnam.
Recently, the Ho Chi Minh City-based entrepreneur closed a first round of venture capital funding – an undisclosed six-digit figure in US Dollars – from a group of local investors, confirming that inclusive businesses in scaling up phase can also be successful if the business model is promising.
At the Inclusive Business Matchmaking event, Larry went on to win a $25,000 grant, and when looking back, he recalls a “fantastic, so well-organized and productive (event)”:
“I’m grateful that I had the chance to pitch and meet face to face with potential investors. I am so happy that I got the prize. My business is in the scaling up phase, so we need market expansion and more funding. Hopefully the technical assistance will help to fulfil these needs.”
Larry’s success also reminds fellow entrepreneurs that simple ideas are sometimes the brightest. On his Inclusive Business Accelerator venture profile, Larry Nguyen explains his company’s business model:
“Hamona changes the way people enjoy coconut water. With a straw, people around the world can enjoy sweet fresh young coconut on the way. No more bottled coconut water. “Who needs a big knife to open a coconut anymore?”
Founded in 2013, Hamona, short for “Harmony with Mother Nature”, aims to exploit the abundant agricultural product of Vietnam to the vast untapped global market while helping improve the lives of local farmers.
“The idea came naturally when we were looking to create an innovative product that has world-wide market potential and at the same time local competitive strength. Coconut water is becoming more popular every day and there is a lot of potential for further innovation.
In the past few years, Hamona has grown and learnt key lessons:
“On the supply side, we have figured out the way to work with farmers and improve their income. In the demand side, for example, we have tested to know what channels are suitable to distribute our product to end-users.”
The company has also focused on attracting human and financial capital, and in a previous interview with IBA Hamona CEO Larry Nguyen explained the plans for the future:
“Hamona would like to serve customers in the U.S and Europe. So we will implement multiple activities to understand those markets better and then expand. We also increase the number of farms we work with to fit the demand, and at the same time increase the social impact. We still need to improve our team abilities, productivity and operation efficiency”
Congratulations to Larry and his team on this remarkable achievement! IB Accelerator looks forward to new successes and inspirational stories to accelerate Inclusive Business.