New COVID-19 adaptation programme for social impact businesses

April 29, 2022 - 08:19
The number of COVID-19 cases in Việt Nam is decreasing but the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the businesses, especially those led by the vulnerable groups, are still prolonged and damaging.
Model of hydroponic vegetable growing in Yên Minh Town, Yên Minh District, Hà Giang Province with direction towards the development of high-tech agriculture. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Tâm

HÀ NỘI — The Agency of Enterprise Development (AED) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched today the “COVID-19 Adaptation Programme” for social impact businesses (SIBs) to increase their capacity and refine business models to address the challenges they are facing.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Việt Nam is decreasing but the adverse effects of COVID-19 on businesses, especially those led by vulnerable groups, are still prolonged and damaging.

A UNDP study in August last year showed that household businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises found their revenue declined sharply, forcing them to cut back operations and lay off workers.

Enterprises in tourism, restaurants, hotels and passenger transportation were those hardest hit. This impact is exacerbated among female-headed households.

“This support package will contribute to helping SIBs remove the above bottlenecks and difficulties through concrete actions, such as sending experts and intermediary organisations to accompany SIBs for six months to solve specific problems in management, business, and product development,” said Lê Mạnh Hùng, general director of MPI’s Agency for Enterprise Development.

Especially, the COVID-19 Adaptation Programme also provided seed funding of VNĐ100 million (nearly US$4,350) for each enterprise to build and test new business models. This was a very valuable resource for SIBs amid difficult access to financial resources, he added.

UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam Caitlin Wiesen commended Việt Nam for its rapid and equitable roll-out of the vaccination programme, bringing the country back to normal life. However, she is concerned about the adverse effects of COVID-19 on businesses.

“Our baseline assessment showed that nearly 47 per cent of interviewed social impact businesses had their revenue reduced due to COVID-19. Businesses with the highest percentage of revenue reduction belonged to the groups employing people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and co-operatives,” said Wiesen.

We hoped that the programme would provide the necessary technical and financial support for the SIBs to realise their innovative ideas to solve their own challenges, thus benefiting vulnerable groups, she added.

As the flagship support for SIBs in the “Leveraging Việt Nam’s Social Impact Business Ecosystem in Response to COVID-19”- ISEE-COVID project, the Covid-19 Adaptation Programme is expected to help SIBs to identify critical challenges due to COVID-19; design new business models or develop new products and services to adapt to COVID-19; and build and test prototypes of products and services with the seed funds.

The programme will support 30 SIBs in the agriculture and tourism industries this year, focusing on the SIBs led by women and vulnerable groups. Each selected SIB will receive a six-month coaching service and funding of VNĐ100 million to identify, build and test the prototypes or new business models.

The AED, GAC, and UNDP encourage eligible social impacted businesses to submit expressions of interest to participate in the programme.

All social enterprises, impact start-ups, co-operatives, and small and medium enterprises that work with or work for the vulnerable groups, in the agricultural and tourism sectors, are welcome to apply for the programme.

There is no restriction on population group, occupation, or geographical location as long as the businesses support vulnerable groups and the proposed business models, and new products and services are innovative, sustainable, scalable, and relevant to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. — VNS