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Jan 24, 2024 / 18:02

Women-owned businesses crucial for Vietnam's sustainable development

Women-led small and medium-sized businesses can be a key driver of economic growth in Vietnam as well as across Asia and the Pacific.

Women-owned businesses have a crucial role in Vietnam’s efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment (MPI) Tran Duy Dong shared the view at the launch of the first-ever study on women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam, jointly held by the MPI and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on January 23.

 Overview of the launching ceremony. Photo: ADB

The report, Facilitating Entrepreneurship Growth by Lifting Barriers: A White Book on Women-owned Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Vietnam, was developed by ADB in partnership with the MPI’s Agency for Enterprise Development. The study is an integral part of the Women Accelerating Vibrant Enterprises in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (WAVES) program, funded by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

“We hope this publication will provide more significant insights into the untapped opportunities and remaining challenges facing women-owned SMEs in Vietnam and provide a foundation for further research and policy-making initiatives to foster the continued growth and development of the sector," said Dong.

SMEs are the backbone of Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy. In 2020, there were more than 500,000 SMEs in the country, representing nearly 98% of all businesses. But women-owned SMEs make up just 20% of the total, a disproportionately small number. The report thus seeks to tackle this imbalance by providing an evidence-based snapshot of women entrepreneurs in Vietnam to help shape future SME policy directions.

“Women-led small and medium-sized businesses can be a key driver of economic growth in Vietnam as well as across Asia and the Pacific,” said ADB Director General of the Southeast Asia Department Winfried Wicklein. “For ADB, promoting gender equality and advancing women’s economic empowerment is a top priority, so we are very pleased to have developed this study with the Ministry of Planning and Investment on promoting women-led SMEs and entrepreneurship in Vietnam.”

The study draws on a large body of knowledge and international best practices to produce a series of measures that can unleash the untapped potential of women-owned SMEs in Vietnam. These include establishing gender-disaggregated databases; incorporating women-owned SMEs more integrally into legislation like the Law on Gender Equality; exploring gender-specific measures to support the implementation of the SME Support Law; and placing greater emphasis on knowledge dissemination and awareness-raising activities that will promote women entrepreneurship and women role models.