HCM CITY (VNS) — Walmart plans to provide special priority to women-owned business suppliers in Viet Nam to enable easier access to global supply chains, the company's officials announced.
The initiative to give priority to women-owned suppliers is part of a programme implemented worldwide by the giant US-owned firm.
During a conference organised last Friday by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in HCM City, hundreds of Vietnamese female entrepreneurs met Walmart's representatives and American officials to seek opportunities to join global supply chains.
Kara Valikai, senior manager of Walmart's Women's Economic Empowerment, and director of the firm's corporate affairs department, said that in several parts of the world women were not given the same conditions as men in the business environment.
The majority of customers at Walmart are women, and many of them like products, particularly produced by women. Every week, more than 260 million female customers visit Walmart stores around the world.
Walmart said that women in emerging markets use 90 per cent of their income to invest in their families and communities, breaking the cycle of poverty and uplifting entire communities.
Most Vietnamese women-owned businesses are of a small scale, so they may face challenges to become involved in the global supply chain.
Walmart said it would offer technical support and financial assistance to the businesses.
Valikai said that this was an issue facing many businesses around the world, not just women-owned companies.
She said that Walmart would develop relationships with local financial organisations to help enterprises.
Jocelyn Tran, regional senior director of Walmart Global Sourcing for Southeast Asia, said that women owned or operated 25 to 33 per cent of all private business in the world today.
If female farmers in developing countries had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent, reducing the number of those who suffer from hunger by 12 per cent to 17 per cent, Tran said.
With 800 million people going hungry every day, this would be an enormous benefit to the world, she said.
In Viet Nam, among people starting their own business, 58 per cent are men and 42 per cent women.
However, female-owned businesses have a higher dropout rate than male-owned ones.
Among 500,000 enterprises, only one-fourth of them are women-led, said Pham Thi Thu Hang, General Secretary of Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Walmart initiative has received strong support from the business community of Vietnamese women.
However, there is still concern about becoming a Walmart supplier as most women-owned businesses in Viet Nam are small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Tran Thi Van Loan, CEO and chairwoman of management board of Cuu Long Fish Corp, said her company had been a Walmart supplier for eight years.
"It is not that difficult to become a Walmart supplier, but enterprises should be professional suppliers and able to pass audits on factory, finances, supply chain security and social responsibility," she said.
Le Tu Cam Ly, vice chairman of AmCham Viet Nam in HCM City, said that US–Viet Nam trade increased by more than 20 percent to reach US$45 billion last year. The volume could exceed US$80 billion by 2020.
With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, bilateral trade volume could be much more.
Ly said that experts have predicted that Viet Nam's exports would increase an additional 28.4 per cent under TPP by 2025.
Currently, more than 100,000 enterprises around the world are suppliers for Walmart.
For the Vietnamese market, Walmart plans to focus on garments, general merchandise, food and products for infants.
Globally, Walmart's Women Economic Empowerment plans to increase sourcing from women-owned businesses, aiming to purchase $20 billion over five years and offer training to nearly one million women. — VNS