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Businesswomen still face obstacles in Vietnam
By Hung Le
Wednesday,  Jul 11, 2018,13:18 (GMT+7)

Businesswomen still face obstacles in Vietnam

By Hung Le

Female entrepreneurs discuss at the forum - PHOTO: HUNG LE

HCMC – Vietnamese women have greater interest in business than those in other countries in the region, but they have encountered a host of challenges along the path to leadership, heard a forum held in HCMC on July 10 on training female entrepreneurs to acquire leadership and business development skills.

Speaking at the forum jointly organized by the Vietnam Association of Women Entrepreneurs (VAWE) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh said the proportion of Vietnamese women aspiring to enter the business realm is quite high, and this was confirmed by international organizations and foreign firms via on-site surveys.

Minh cited a survey from Facebook as indicating that four out of five Vietnamese women want to establish their own business. The survey was conducted last year by market researchers Development Economics and YouGov on behalf of Facebook, with 2,000 respondents.

Stephen Belinguette, USAID section chief in HCMC, noted that the trend of businesswomen heading an enterprise is becoming common in the world, not just in Vietnam.

He attributed the trend to declining costs in establishing a business, the popularity of online operations, low-cost marketing activities and the ability to manage a business from home.

As most enterprises use online marketing channels, enabling easy access to investment capital, women can easily start a business, Belinguette noted.

He added that enterprises led by women account for 25% of the 600,000 existing firms, contributing to the country’s economic growth and creating job opportunities for laborers in Vietnam. At Vietnamese enterprises, some 30% of women hold senior posts and another 14% are in management positions, according to Belinguette.

Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, vice chairwoman of VAWE, pointed out that over 100,000 firms, mainly small and medium ones, are run by women.

Vietnam expects to have some one million enterprises, of which 350,000 will be owned by women, by 2020. Thus, in the next three years, the number of women-led enterprises will increase threefold, higher than the rate of the country’s swell in startup establishment.

Dung also highlighted the strengths of women-led enterprises, such as endurance when faced with difficulties, greater concern for labor policies and social contributions. However, enterprises run by women still face multiple obstacles and challenges including operating on a small scale, showing weak competiveness and presenting limited administration skills and technological knowledge, Dung stressed, adding that a bias against women’s roles in business still exists.

According to Facebook’s survey, some obstacles faced by female entrepreneurs in running a company include concerns over financial security, a lack of orientation and a lack of access to funding.

Addressing the forum, Belinguette insisted that women meet with twice as many disadvantages as men in establishing and developing their businesses, which may negatively affect economic growth.

The economic growth of any nation is restricted if half the population fails to do business or participate in economic activities, he explained.

“In narrowing the gap between men and women in business activities, we will likely free a major female labor source possessing talent and creativity, helping launch a new era for Vietnam’s development,” Belinguette said, adding that the community of women entrepreneurs needs to be invested in and further developed.

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