The 2012 International Social Entrepreneurship Conference opened on October 25 in Hanoi, focusing on exchanging experiences and establishing relations between Vietnamese and foreign businesses.

Organised by the Centre of Women Development (CWD) at the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry of Singapore (IWFCIS) and the British Council, the two-day conference aims to raise awareness of the value and contributions of enterprises as well as introduce new social enterprises projects.

According to Cao Thi Hong Van, CWD Director, in the context of economic recession, it is necessary to encourage and support the development of businesses serving the interests of society and community.

Ann Phua, IWFCIS Chair said regional experts at the conference should analyse challenges and opportunities of social enterprises and responsibilities of individuals and organisations.

Robin Rickard, British Council’s Director for Vietnam said the UK, as a leading country in social enterprise development, is willing to share its experiences over the past 30 years with Vietnam .

The previous decade witnessed a rapid growth of social enterprises in many countries, including Vietnam , he added.

Regarding the role that women play in economic development, VWU Standing Vice President Hoang Thi Ai Nhien said Vietnam has a high rate of women taking part in economic activities (83 percent), as high as that of men (85 percent).

Women are involved in almost all sectors and areas and own more than 25 percent of enterprises and over 41 percent of production and trade establishments, she added.

As an organisation representing women’s rights and interests, the VWU has implemented many programmes and activities aiming to promote the participation of women in economic development.

The moves include the supply of information on policies and strategies and the organisation of forums and dialogues as well as policy consultations with government agencies. The union also works to help women access vocational and business training programmes, and build a businesswomen network.

Nhien affirmed that with their priorities of society and community development purposes, social enterprises will play an increasingly important role in the economy of all countries.-VNA