HA NOI – The three-year Making Markets Work Better for the Poor Phase 2 project concluded having empowered Vietnamese farmers, collaborating with enterprises, to develop production and business opportunities in local areas.
The new initiative has been test run via seven projects supported by the Vietnam Challenge Fund (VCF), operated by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Asian Development Bank. The focus fell on making the country's rural markets function better, and with greater fairness, for the poor men and women that participate in them.
The projects range from pro-poor mushroom-growth technology, to ethnic minority organic tea, origin traceable H'mong beef, fertiliser produced from cassava waste, semi-washed Robusta coffee, pomelo and quality-controlled fish production for international supermarket chains.
The VCF awarded cost-sharing grants to these typically risky but prospective projects, testing new supply chain systems and initiatives, which has lead to the development of successful business models with much wider applicability and greater scalability across Viet Nam. Total VCF grant funding reached over US$1.26m, with a further US$2.45m sourced from participating companies.
Hoang Viet Khang, general director of the Foreign Economic Relations Department at MPI, said a number of innovative projects and tangible policy changes have increased opportunities for the poor in the economic growth process across locations as far as Cao Bang and Quang Tri.
"MPI is keen on deepening project operations in the coming years as a template for assisting communities that continue to experience persistent poverty," he said.
Initial results show that around 16,900 people have seen a positive impact on their incomes and livelihoods as a result of the VCF projects, a major component of M4P2. Over 2,100 jobs have also been created across the VCF's portfolio while the indirect impact is expected to be much larger as new models are replicated.
"The concept behind the challenge fund originated in the UK, but is relatively new to Vietnam," says Ms Fiona Lappin, head of DFID Viet Nam. "Fundamentally, the Viet Nam Challenge Fund aims to harness one of the core strengths of the private sector in the country – its ability to generate and invest in new ideas and use it for the benefit of the poor, through commercially viable business models with a strong social impact."
The other innovative instrument of the three-year initiative is Policy Action Research, aimed at instigating change at district, provincial and national level. It used grants totalling US$ 500,000, disbursed to nine research institutes across Viet Nam. -- VNS