National Assembly to discuss supporting SMEs

Thursday, Oct 20, 2016 09:00

A small copper company in northern Bac Ninh Province's Gia Binh District. Small- and medium-sized enterprises are struggling to access business resources, such as credit, land and market information. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
HA NOI (Biz Hub) — The draft law on support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be discussed at the 14th National Assembly's second meeting sessions which opens today, heard a conference yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said at the conference organised by the ministry's Agency for Enterprises Development and the United States Agency for International Development that SMEs were a driver for growth and the core of the economy.

SMEs accounted for 97 per cent of all firms, provided jobs to half of the labour force and contributed 40 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP). However, they were still struggling to access business resources, such as credit, land and market information.

Dong said the law would create a level playing field for firms while raising private resources in boosting the SME community. The law would aim to encourage firms to renovate the growth model and improve competitiveness.

"The support from the law is appropriate to Viet Nam's commitments to international trade deals," Le Van Khuong, Head of SMEs Department said, adding that the law was expected to boost employment and contribute to enabling one million firms to operate efficiently by 2020.

According to Gloria Steele, USAID's Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia, Viet Nam was growing rapidly in the region. Creating a favourable environment for SMEs to develop was essential for the country's growth, she said.

In a conference held on Tuesday, experts said that gender equality should be addressed in the law on support for SMEs, by supporting female-led firms.

A report heard at the workshop on Tuesday held by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Ha Noi Women's Association of SMEs (HAWASME) revealed that female-led firms significantly contributed to the country's socio-economic development but faced several disadvantages compared with male-led firms.

The report carried out by HAWASME and Asian Development Bank's Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) found that female-led firms accounted for 24.8 per cent of the total number of firms or 25 per cent of the total number of SMEs and created more than 1.6 million jobs. Female-led firms also used more women workers than male-led firms with respective proportions of 43.4 per cent and 36 per cent.

However, they faced barriers in accessing financial resources, market information, trade promotion programmes and Government supports. Female entrepreneurs also struggled to balance family and work, according to the report.

Ha Thi Vinh, director of Quang Vinh Ceramics Company, said that female entrepreneurs were often bound by cultural and family factors.

Experts at the conference said that the draft law should address gender-related issues.

According to Hoang Quang Phong, VCCI's Deputy Director, there was a shortage of support for female-led firms. "It is necessary to have policies to promote female entrepreneurship," Phong said.

Currently, Viet Nam has only Decree 56/2009/ND-CP which mentions female-led firms, saying that support to female-led SMEs or SMEs using a significant number of women workers will be given priority. However, there were no detailed regulations and support failed to reach female-led firms.

Many countries such as South Korea, the Philippines and the US have separate laws or programmes to support female-led firms.

Bui Sy Loi, Deputy Chairman of the NA's Committee on Social Affairs said that he expected the law on support to SMEs would support SMEs and female-led firms.

Loi said that support to female-led firms should include trade promotion, resource access, developing business network and improve capacity.

"If support to female-led SMEs is included in the law, I believe that the goal of 35 per cent of firms being led by women entrepreneurs will be within reach," Loi said. — VNS

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