On October 29, CARE, Mastercard, VPBank, WISE and Canal Circle announced the Ignite Initiative in Vietnam – a new partnership focused on promoting the empowerment of female entrepreneurs, aimed at accelerating the growth of economy-developing businesses while advancing financial security and also promoting inclusive growth through actions prioritising enabling female entrepreneurs to thrive.
The Ignite Initiative is part of a broader three-year partnership between CARE and Mastercard, that aims to equip 3.9 million micro and small businesses in Vietnam, Peru and Pakistan with increased financial access and digital know-how.
Earlier this year, the partners collaborated to provide both funds and expertise to help 1,000 women-led micro, small and medium enterprises in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to help drive a robust recovery from the pandemic, followed by sustained long-term inclusive growth.
In Vietnam, 27% of all businesses in Vietnam are owned by women, according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019. The country also scores well on a number of indicators such as equality in entrepreneurial activity, and access to financial assets and knowledge.
Dao Tu Hien, WISE’s CEO said that the proportion of enterprises owned by women in Vietnam has been increasing in recent years, and this both clearly demonstrates the emerging role of women in leadership and business management, and their capacity to be equally as influential as male business leaders in the country.
Despite the relatively high levels of ownership, women face several challenges relating to social and gender norms around their ability to successfully own businesses. COVID-19 has made women entrepreneurs even more financially vulnerable although the crisis has also helped a number of small and agile businesses adapt their business models and stay afloat, taking advantage of changing customer behaviours.
Nguyen Thu Ha, CEO and Founder of fintech group Canal Circle stressed the necessity of technology application and digitisation to facilitate access to business opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Canal Circle would partner with Micro-finance Institutions (MFIs) and People’s Credit Funds to help rural businesswomen access affordable financial resources, thus ensuring better opportunities for growth or recovery from disrupted business as a result of the pandemic, she added.
With long experience working in the support of women around the globe, Le Kim Dung, Country Director, CARE International in Vietnam, said that female entrepreneurship is a critical avenue by which women’s economic empowerment can be supported. The initiative is expected to fuel the growth engine of female -owned businesses with the tools and financial resources that better suit their needs, thus helping build resilience and a more inclusive and equitable economic recovery, Dung added.