Forum helps scaling up women-led businesses in Việt Nam

October 28, 2020 - 19:43
More than 120 participants who are women startup founders and entrepreneurs, attended a women business forum on Wednesday in Hà Nội.
A panel discussion as part of a women's business forum, entitled Scaling up Women-led Business, in Hà Nội on Wednesday. — VNS Photo Thanh Hải 

HÀ NỘI — More than 120 participants, consisting of female start-up founders and entrepreneurs, attended a women's business forum on Wednesday in Hà Nội.

The event, entitled Scaling up Women-led Business, was jointly organised by the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) and Endeavor Vietnam with the support from the Embassy of Canada in Việt Nam.

“Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is critical to the achievement of peace, prosperity, and sustainable development. Canada prioritises investments, partnerships and advocacy efforts that have the greatest potential to close gender gaps, and to promote women’s economic rights and leadership. The embassy of Canada is pleased to work hand-in-hand with local partners like WISE to advance women’s economic empowerment, including helping women-led businesses to grow," said Deborah Paul, Ambassador of Canada to Việt Nam.

According to the Business Report in Việt Nam by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), by the end of September 2019, there were more than 285,700 businesses owned or led by women, accounting for 24 per cent of the total number of businesses across the country. However, almost all are small and micro sized enterprises operating mainly in the service sector.

“Working with women entrepreneurs in the WISE community, we found that main challenges for women to take higher roles in larger enterprises or scaling up their business include social norms and prejudice, work-life balance, limited knowledge and skills for business management, and limited access to finance and networks,” said Từ Thu Hiền, WISE CEO.

The forum aimed to discuss challenges faced by women-owned or led businesses in the scaling process; lessons learnt and practical experiences in scaling up businesses from small to medium and large size shared by successful entrepreneurs.

Participants also spoke about potential economic and social impacts that can be achieved if gender equality and entrepreneurship is enhanced. The event is a chance to inspire and increase networking opportunities among participants and guest speakers.

“Women-owned enterprises in their scaling up process need very different forms of support compared to the initial stage. The skills that help them succeed at the start of a business may no longer be relevant when the business is established and on the verge of strong growth. Therefore, in addition to existing organisations that support women to start a business, there should be more specialised organisations and/or initiatives to support female leaders in scaling up their businesses, particularly in access to funding or to mentoring programmes,” said Nguyễn Lan Anh, Managing Director, Endeavor Vietnam.

Despite representing such a small percentage of all enterprises nationwide, women-owned businesses (WOB) have many strengths over their male counterparts, according to other studies, such as employing more female workers, paying higher social insurance, and incurring less costs to create jobs.

More women are becoming entrepreneurs each year, but they are less likely to grow and scale their business to medium and large size compared to men. The number of WOB gradually decreases as the size of the enterprise grows. According to a study by the Asian Development Bank, women owned businesses account for only 13.6 per cent of large enterprises.

At the event, participants also heard success stories and ideas shared by prominent female business leaders, diversified in size, generations and industries to clearly outline the development journey of businesses owned and led by women.— VNS