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Vietnam Today

Support for female entrepreneurs in short supply

Released at: 11:58, 19/10/2016

Support for female entrepreneurs in short supply

Photo: Duc Anh

Conference hears of need for greater policy support for women in business and for SMEs in general.

by Quynh Nguyen

The number of women-owned businesses (WOBs) in Vietnam is expected to increase to 35 per cent of the 90 per cent of Vietnamese enterprises that are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2020 despite the many difficulties stemming from a lack of policy support, a conference on supporting WOBs and a draft law on supporting SMEs held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI), and the Australian Government on October 18 heard.

WOBs currently account for 25 per cent of the 90 per cent of enterprises that are SMEs in Vietnam, creating 1.08 million jobs and contributing around VND33.1 trillion ($1.48 billion) to the State budget to date. The government targets WOBs to reach 350,000 by 2020.

According to Mr. Tom Moyes, Director of MBI, women have a major opportunity to play a leading role in economic integration across Asia as they are standing up and being active, even more so than men in some cases.

“WOBs still face many challenges and difficulties relating to finance, market information, training opportunities, trade promotion and government resources,” said Ms. Mai Thi Thuy, Chairwoman of the Hanoi Women’s Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (Hawasme). “Female entrepreneurs in Vietnam also face obstacles in balancing work and family.”

An MBI report released at the conference showed that many of the challenges facing WOBs are generic and also shared by male business owners. Such challenges include limited capital, inadequate market information, ambiguous rules and regulations, and a shortage of skilled employees.

Female entrepreneurs also confront barriers that are gender-specific, however, including a lack of business and financial management training, insufficient networking opportunities, and difficulties in balancing work and their greater share of family responsibilities.

“For a long time WOBs have lacked support from the government,” said Mr. Hoang Quang Phong, Deputy Chairman of VCCI. “The draft law on supporting SMEs, especially WOBs, is therefore necessary in order to encourage the contribution made by WOBs to the country’s development.”

In 2010 there were 65,000 WOBs, which increased by 40 per cent to 91,000 in 2015.

The government signed Decision No. 2351 in December 2010 regarding the National Strategy on Gender Equality in the 2011-2020 Period. The number of WOBs was to reach 30 per cent of the 90 per cent of enterprises that are SMEs in 2015 and 35 per cent, or 350,000, by 2020.

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