Press Release: The wooden mouse – “Wouse” – that won’t leave you all in a sweat

16 March 2013

THE first eco-friendly mouse – a wooden “Wouse” – is going on sale and as well as being ethically sound it can absorb sweat – unlike its more traditional cousins.

Made of rubber wood, the Wouses are hand-carved in Vietnam, which has a tradition of high-quality carpentry, and unlike other businesses that use its labour force, the venture is putting something back into the country.

Two ambitious students, who are on a ground-breaking degree course which offers funding to set up a business during the first year, are behind the innovation. The two year BSc Business Enterprise course at the University of Buckingham is one of only three in the world to offer up to £5,000 in funding for a business proposal.

One of the students, Giang Tran, worked with Vietnam-based computer expert Do Ba Huy to create the eye-catching wooden Wouse. Giang left her native Vietnam to study in England so that she could learn business skills to market the product.

In January Giang started her University of Buckingham course and joined forces with fellow student Kate Murphy. They came up with a business plan for Ecoccessories – a company selling a range of eco-friendly computer goods including the Wouse, laptop cooler – the Wooler – as well as a wooden Iphone case and stand. Ecoccessories now has a website and is starting to trade.

Giang, 23, from Ho Chi Minh City, said: “I wanted to do something for Vietnam. We are used to being a cheap labour force for other countries but not actually doing things for ourselves. We are trying to help people in Vietnam value themselves.”

As the website explains: “We import our products from a small village in Vietnam that gives employment to unprivileged people in the community in addition to educating them.We make it one of our key principles to ensure that our products are fairly produced in a happy and fair working environment.

“We have a direct link with our manufacturer so that we can maintain these conditions and give something back to these people that have very little opportunity and self-belief. There are very few, if any, well-known brands of Vietnam.

“It is our aim to shine the light on the exceptional handicraft shown by these talented people in a developing country that before had very little hope, exposure and belief that they could achieve anything in life.Our products represent sustainability, craftsmanship and the awareness for change, for a better and less harmful future for the environment and the people.“

Rubber trees are farmed on plantations in Southeast Asia. The liquid latex, which is similar to sap, is collected from the trees over a lifespan of around 25 years. Previously, trees which past their producing lifespan used to be burned. However, now most are recovered and milled into lumber, used for flooring, furniture, toys, and now , Ecoccessories products.

Giang added: “The project is very environmentally-friendly. After the latex is taken out of the rubber wood the trees are replanted and we use the wood for our products,”

The business knowledge Giang and her business partners are gaining from her University of Buckingham course helps them with marketing, finance and negotiating with the supplier.The factory currently employs 10 people and helps to educate them in a variety of skills including wooden handicrafts.

BSc in Business Enterprise programme director Nigel Adams added: “I am delighted that as part of our pioneering BSc Business Enterprise Course these students have successfully started up such an innovative business which is already doing extremely well. It’s fantastic to see a Vietnamese student and two British students working together so fruitfully on this eco-friendly initiative. It’s a credit to them that they want to put something back into Vietnam as well as setting up a credible business.”

A bonus is that because the Wouse is made of wood it absorbs sweat – unlike plastic. The Wouse, priced at £49.99, is the first rubber tree mouse and the first to be made predominantly made of any kind of wood. Each Wouse features a wooden scroll, wooden box of packaging and standard Optical Mouse 1000 dpi.

For more details contact Diana Blamires, Publicity Officer, on +44 (0)1280 820213.