Empowering Women-Owned Enterprises to Engage in Supply Chains

Wed, 01 May 2024 23:13:00  |  Print  |  Email   Share:

This was the theme of the Business Forum organized by the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) also partnered in this endeavor. This forum was an integral component of the WE RISE Together Program, which is backed by the Australian Government through the Mekong-Australia Partnership.

VCCI Vice President Nguyen Quang Vinh addresses the event

Not heavily involved in the supply chain

Despite women comprising nearly half of the global population, their contribution to the global gross domestic product (GDP) stands at 37%. Empowering women to participate equally in the economy could potentially expand the global GDP by up to US$28 trillion by 2025. Globally, women are estimated to own approximately 33% of all businesses. If women-owned businesses were to grow at the same rate as businesses owned by men, the global GDP could see an increase of about US$2 trillion, equivalent to 2% to 3% of the global GDP, and generate between 288 million and 433 million new jobs. In Vietnam, over 20% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women, and 51% of Vietnamese businesses have women in their ownership structure, a figure that surpasses other countries. However, women-owned businesses (WOBs) are disproportionately represented at the lower echelons of the supply chain across various industries and often struggle to meet the procurement requirements set by large firms.

According to VCCI Vice President Nguyen Quang Vinh, sustainable business is an irreversible trend, and transitioning toward sustainable development is a requirement for businesses in the context of international integration, particularly for successful participation in global supply chains. Currently, a majority of WOBs in Vietnam are small in scale, which results in limited access to capital, technology and governance. Consequently, their participation in global supply chains is extremely challenging. This is why only about 4% of women-owned SMEs are considered dynamic and capable of participating in global supply chains.

Furthermore, despite Vietnam boasting the most effective WOB network in ASEAN, the number of large-scale WOBs capable of leading supply chains remains limited, as said by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Duy Dong. Many companies struggle to access resources, and their business competitiveness, performance, capacity and management skills are often limited. Moreover, women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges and barriers stemming from societal prejudices and traditional customs.

Vietnamese firms endorse the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), affirming their commitment to advancing gender equality across all spheres

Fostering women's empowerment and gender equality

The Government issued many SME support policies, especially those on women-owned businesses and female workers. Ms. Nguyen Tung Anh from SME Division, Business Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that some support policies such as market access consulting, support for account registration on e-commerce platforms (lowest support of VND50 million, the highest support of more than VND200 million), support for businesswomen to build and improve business capacity, build and strengthen the ecosystem to operate businesses and support for policymaker capacity building.

Capital support policies are not humble but this is considered a “stepping stone” for businesses to shape production and development, she added.

According to Mr. Nguyen Hoa Cuong, Vice Chairman of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), to seize opportunities in the current period, businesswomen must actively approach and learn information about development support policies, programs and projects. At the same time, they need actively take part in dialogues, regularly report problems that need to be resolved as well as raise constructive initiatives and ideas via local one-stop agencies; actively participate in WOB associations and clubs to learn business and career knowledge, provide capital support, access credit, support and help other businesses.

According to Madam Caroline T. Nyamayemobe, UN Women Representative in Vietnam, evidence showed that countries with higher gender equality have faster growing and more competitive economies. Applying sustainable development tools such as gender responsible procurement policies and Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) is a smart choice to help businesses make a difference and achieve sustainable development.

On this occasion, 22 Vietnamese businesses signed in favor of the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs), demonstrating their commitments to fostering gender equality in the workplace, in the market and in the community. At the forum, the Organizing Committee also launched the Women's Empowerment Principles Awards 2024 (WEPs Awards 2024), an initiative of UN Women since 2020.

By: Quynh Anh/ Vietnam Business Forum

Source: https://vccinews.com/news/56813/empowering-women-owned-enterprises-to-engage-in-supply-chains.html


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