Sa Pa Essentials (SPE) Ltd is a Vietnamese-owned private company established in Sa Pa District, Lao Cai Province, northern Vietnam. Set up in 2005, the company develops and produces natural products derived from the sustainable cultivation of native medicinal plants. SPE works very closely with local farmers from a local co-operative, the Sa Pa Indigenous Medicinal Plants Association (SIMPA) to develop their products.
SIMPA, also established in 2005, is an association comprised of local farmers from the H’mong, Dao, Giay and Kinh ethnic groups. The management board of the association comprises one person from each of the ethnic groups (two men and two women). Decisions are made collectively and operations conducted on a fair and equitable basis.
SIMPA grows several medicinal plant species organically, some of which contain novel essential oils. After extraction of these essential oils through a simple steam distillation process, SPE buys the oils from SIMPA through a 'fair trade' process that guarantees the farmers fair incomes. These oils are then used in special formulations to develop 100% pure natural products, including handmade massage balms and soaps. Royalties derived from the sale of these products are also placed in a development and conservation fund, administered by SIMPA, for the benefit of the wider Sa Pa community.
SPE also acts to support SIMPA through activities such as business development, capacity building and marketing of products.
Read more about the origins of Sa Pa Essentials and SIMPA.