VNECONOMY: AN UPWARD JOURNEY WITH START-UP WOMEN

28/04/2022

Tinh Thuong One member Limited Liability Microfinance Institution (TYM) is the first licensed microfinance institution in Vietnam, established by the Vietnam Women Union in 1992. On its offical website, the slogan “an upward journey with women” appears the first. According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, member of the Presidium of the Vietnam Women’s Union, General Director of TYM, during its nearly three decades, TYM has steadfast remained its mission to accompany the development of Vietnamese women through the appropriate, secure, convenient and responsible provision of microfinance products.

THOUSANDS OF WOMEN HAVE BECOME MICRO-ENTERPRISES

In your opinion, is it more difficult for women to start a business than for men? If so, where do those difficulties and barriers come from?

I think that starting a business is not easy for anyone, but when starting a business, women face some difficulties and challenges more than men. Working in the field of microfinance, we have the opportunity to accompany your business start-up, we realize that the main difficulty that you often face is the problem of accessing capital and barriers. It is not easy for women to overcome as it is a psychological problem.

In accessing capital, the reality shows that many women, especially low-income women living in rural areas, when having ideas and business plans, they are not easily trusted by their family to use the family’s assets as collateral to take out loans to invest in production and business. Although they are “key hands”, they usually only manage small expenses, do not own valuable assets and do not have the right to decide how to use those assets to start a business. Therefore, when borrowing, especially in places where collateral is required, it is difficult for women to meet this standard.

Psychologically, many women, although they have the desire to start a business, they lack confidence in themselves and do not dare to show their best. Sometimes women are also influenced by the inherent notions that women should take care of the family more than contributing to the economy, or may think that earning bread is the responsibility of men. Therefore, although there are many opportunities for women, they cannot grasp them because they have not overcome that mentality.

In recent years, we can see that, gradually, the society has become more open-minded about the role of women in the field of economy and entrepreneurship, and the women themselves see the value of women. At the same time, they were encouraged by the society, so that barrier has been partly overcome and many women have successfully started their own businesses, affirming their role in the field of economic development.

When it comes to microfinance, it refers to the provision of small loans, without collateral, and the repayments are divided equally between principal and interest… Can we count how many there are? Have women succeeded from TYM’s micro-capitals?

Over the past 30 years, there have been millions of loans that TYM has supported for women, and many of them are from a time when women’s access to capital was extremely difficult. By the end of 2021, TYM’s total outstanding loans reached more than VND 2,000 billion with nearly 180,000 members and customers. Hundreds of thousands of women have been lifted out of poverty and thousands of women have become micro-entrepreneurs. In which, 93 women were awarded the Citi – Vietnam micro-entrepreneur award, 7 women won awards in the Women’s Entrepreneurship contest organized byVietnam Women’s Union.

Starting a business in the current conditions, in your opinion, besides loans, what do women need help with?

In starting a business, capital is an important but not the only condition for a successful start-up. In my opinion, in addition to capital, women need support in knowledge and skills to improve their capacity. At TYM, we see that very clearly. There are many women who do not know how to use capital when they start taking loans, do not know how to build a business plan and manage their spending, leading to confusion when starting. However, with the support of TYM in capacity building training, organization of field visits and experience sharing, women step by step know how to make business plans, manage spending, use capital to generate income and accumulate savings, thereby expanding the scale of production and business and continue to access larger loans.

Especially, in the current 4.0 era, the application of digital technology in all aspects of social life is becoming an inevitable trend. Grasping this trend, TYM has directly organized training on digital technology for nearly 65,000 women and their relatives, and coordinated with the Vietnam Women’s Academy to train this content for nearly 17,000 members, helping to equip them with basic knowledge about digital technology so that women can participate in the digital economy and find opportunities in business and start-up.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot of the way businesses do business, and technology plays an important role in that change. Therefore, women need to continue to be supported to improve their digital skills so that they can grasp the opportunities brought by digital technology and confidently continue on their entrepreneurial path.

BEING OUT OF POVERTY – STARTING A BUSINESS – GETTING BETTER-OFF

As for yourself, being both a woman of the family and taking on the busy work of society, how can you fulfill your role like that?

Perhaps I also do not dare to admit that I have fulfilled both roles, because fulfilling both roles for both women and men is not easy. Personally, I think that arranging scientific work, working with the highest responsibility, and knowing the balance between work and life are necessary factors to be able to fulfill the two roles, especially at times when both the family and the organization are under pressure.

Besides, knowing how to mobilize the participation and sharing of family members as well as knowing how to promote, encourage and motivate staff in the organization to join hands with them to solve problems are the most important factors. It is important for me to complete both family and office work.

As a woman who is working to connect and support other women, what is the most required quality?

Working to connect and support women, especially poor women, low-income women need many virtues, of which the very important virtues are dedication and sharing, I think. At TYM, one of the three core values ​​that make up TYM and which TYM has cultivated over the years is “devotion”. Any officer of TYM, when determining to stick with TYM, also needs that virtue.

In the near future, do you personally and TYM in general have any plans to continue to spread the inspiration to women in all parts of Vietnam?

TYM’s message over the past 30 years has been “An upward journey with women”, so “Escape from poverty – Start a business – Get rich” is each step that we aim to support women to rise up step by step. In the coming time, we will constantly strive to improve the quality of products and services and diversify support activities to best meet the needs of each group of women.
Specifically, in 2022, TYM will continue to implement products to support members affected by Covid-19, members with projects to create jobs for the community, members affected by natural disasters, in addition to the following: traditional products of TYM. We are also researching a number of technology applications in business processes to improve the quality of our services. In addition, TYM works closely with all levels of Vietnam Women’s Unions in areas where TYM operates to organize many caring and supporting activities in all aspects so that women can gain more knowledge, skills, and confidence to participate in all aspects of social life.

Source: Vietnam Economic Review – VnEconomy

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