The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Viet Nam, today launched a new project to support the growth of women entrepreneurs as a strategy for poverty reduction, social well-being and sustainable economic growth.
The five-year project titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ aims to create an enabling policy and business environment that enhances women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms as well as increase their use of ICT and digital solutions. The project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.
“Developing women’s entrepreneurship can boost Viet Nam’s economy as well as empowering women. Women entrepreneurs are true agents of change whose innovations can lift companies, communities, and countries. That’s why governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector are joining forces in this area to improve women’s and girls’ prospects in our region” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana on the occasion.
In recent years, Viet Nam has made significant progress regarding its socio-economic status. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are vital to Viet Nam’s economic growth, accounting for more than 98 per cent of all business, 40 per cent of GDP and 50 per cent of total employment. Yet women are estimated to own only 21 per cent of formal enterprises and face various barriers to entrepreneurship, which include, amongst others, limited access to finance and ICT infrastructure, lack of financial and business knowledge, and discriminatory social norms. Overcoming these challenges is essential to unlocking the potential of many women to manifest their full economic aspirations and capacities for building better livelihoods, prosperous communities and thriving societies.
The formal launch of the project in Viet Nam was officiated by Mr. Vu Dai Thang, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam; Ms. Deborah Paul, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Viet Nam; Ms. Cai Cai, Chief of Gender and Social Inclusion Section, Social Development Division, ESCAP; and Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam.
“Women-led enterprises have made important contributions to Viet Nam’s social and economic development. With greater equitable access to resources (capital, land, technology, information) and an improved favorable gender-responsive business climate, they could further overcome the conscious and unconscious biases and constraints that limit their potential, then they could grow stronger and contribute to more inclusive and sustainable growth in Viet Nam,” said Mr. Vu Dai Thang, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam.
"Empowering women is a critical means of reducing global poverty. In Viet Nam, Canada helps improve women's participation in economic decision-making, and supports female entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Canada's partnership with ESCAP will contribute to economic inclusion and advance opportunities for women-led start-ups and female entrepreneurship in Viet Nam and other countries across Asia Pacific,” said Ambassador of Canada to Viet Nam, Ms. Deborah Paul.
The launch and consultation brought together more than 80 policy makers, MSME representatives and other stakeholders. The consultation focused on integrating women’s needs and considerations into policy development, financial inclusion measures at all levels, creating an enabling environment and ICT solutions. These measures aim to contribute towards gender equality, poverty reduction and economic growth in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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