FIA Foundation enables Vietnamese motorbike helmet social enterprise to produce surgical masks for COVID-19 crisis
Face masks to protect from COVID-19 are to be produced by a Vietnamese social enterprise’s motorcycle helmet factory, thanks to a new partnership to save lives and livelihoods by Vietnam-based non-profit AIP Foundation, and the FIA Foundation.
To address global personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for frontline staff, AIP Foundation and its social enterprise, the non-profit helmet manufacturer Protec, are transforming a portion of their factory operations in Vietnam to produce surgical masks. The FIA Foundation – which supports AIP Foundation’s motorcycle helmet campaigns across South East Asia - will provide funds of €250,000 for the production lines of specialized machinery and equipment, and will also support global distribution efforts.
The funding from the FIA Foundation is the first of several COVID-19 interventions which will be backed by the charity, with further announcements in the coming days, as our contribution to the #RaceAgainstCovid global initiative coordinated by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Production of the Vietnamese masks will be ramped up quickly, starting with an initial capacity of 1.5 million masks per month. Not only saving lives globally, the initiative will also contribute to the local and regional economy by purchasing supplies and securing jobs.
Protec employs over 200 employees in Vietnam, a significant proportion of whom are living with disabilities, a population for which employment is often a challenge. Thanks to special adaptions within the factory, all employees can work safely and comfortably, and will now be able to continue to provide for their families.
“Italy and the US are immediate targets, to be followed rapidly by other European countries, and then poorer developing nations,” says Greig Craft, President and Founder of AIP Foundation. “Italy and Vietnam enjoy a special relationship because of free medical surgeries for children carried out by a team of volunteer Italian surgeons that we have organized for the past eight years. When COVID-19 struck, 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,” Craft added.
FIA Foundation Executive Director Saul Billingsley said, “AIP Foundation and Protec have a world-renowned reputation for innovative approaches to saving lives. The FIA Foundation is proud to be working alongside them in this global emergency as the focus shifts from crash helmets to protective masks. We hope this partnership will play a part in tackling the global shortage of PPE as we all respond to COVID-19.”