Link to teaching case:
Vietnam has a rice problem. While the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of rice, the rice production process creates unwanted byproducts in the form of rice straw. Rice straw has typically been dealt with by burning it, which creates significant environmental and health issues. Sensing the opportunity to utilize rice straw as a resource, rather than turn it into a nuisance, Trang Tran founded Fargreen, a for-profit social venture. Fargreen aimed to change the practice of burning excess rice straw by creating a market solution to incentivize utilizing the straw to grow gourmet, branded mushrooms. In addition to remedying the pollution problem, it created additional off-cycle income for rice farmers. The case begins in the first six months of Fargreen’s operations. It addresses common issues faced by new social ventures, such as integrating the venture’s social mission into its strategic decisions; potential tradeoffs that can arise while attempting to balance social and financial gain; and addresses the challenges that can occur when using entrepreneurial approaches to start a firm within a communist country that is just beginning to liberalize its economy.