Effective use of soft loans fosters sustainable poverty reduction hinh anh 1Nong Xuan De escapes from poverty thanks to labour export with soft loans. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA)
– The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP)’s soft loans for poor people has been seen as a standout in Vietnam’s effort to achieve sustainable poverty reduction.

In places where people have lived in poverty for so many years, it seems poverty has sunk deep into the way they act and think and become part of them. Every time they face misfortune from natural disasters and disease outbreaks or experience hardship, they only rely on government allowances.

But the way they think about poverty has changed since they got access to another type of government support that enables many of them to lift themselves out of poverty and even become so better off that they can afford to help other people.

Guest workers make district out of poverty

About 10 years ago, Tay ethnic minority people who live in poor mountainous villages in the northern province of Bac Kan were afraid of working abroad. For them, travelling all the way down to work at industrial parks in Hanoi, Vinh Phuc or Hai Duong was challenging enough, let alone going abroad.

But such fear has gone away over the last few years as working abroad has become an effective way to help these people get out of poverty.

More and more people in Bac Kan are working overseas as the government has given them greater access to consultation and support services in multiple guest worker programmes. After working in foreign countries for a certain number of years, many of them returned home but were no longer listed as poor.

Nong Xuan De is a 27-year-old man born into an underprivileged family in Na Niem village, Khang Ninh, Ba Be district, Bac Kan. He dropped out after finishing the ninth grade and stayed at home to work as a farmer. His parents were often ill so his family struggled to make end meets every day. They didn’t know how to make a better life.

One day, he heard about guest worker policies from the local authority and became interested in. He took a careful look at different recruiting foreign countries and after getting consultancy, he chose Japan.

He started joining an intensive Japanese language course that lasted for 3 months. He took 30 million VND (1,290 USD) in soft loans from the VBSP to cover the tuition fee.

In Japan, he worked for a flower farm that allowed him to save 250 million VND (10,750 USD) after seven months of hard work.

“It is such huge sum of money that my family and I have never dreamt of. If I kept staying at home to work on farm, I would never make that amount all of my life,” he said.

“I am taking an extra Japanese language course, I will re-apply to work in Japan so I can save more money to start a business at home,” he added.

Tran Thi Huyen, a 32-year-old woman from Na Kieng village, Khang Ninh, is among a few people in her village who used to work in Taiwan (China). After three years in Taiwan, she and her husband earned about 500 million – 600 million VND, so they afforded to buy a piece of land, build a house on it and open a small convenient shop.

Ba Be district was one of eight districts moved out of the poverty list by the government during the 2018 – 2020 period. The district is viewed as a standout since it has made various efforts to support local impoverished households, for example, giving its people access to soft loans, helping them go to work abroad and expanding agro-forestry production and tourism services.

The government currently provides financial support for poor workers to pursue vocational and foreign language training so they can go to work overseas.

Making better life thanks to soft loans

In 2001, Vu Tri Long, a 50-year-old farmer from Hong Hy district, the northern province of Thai Nguyen, was among the poorest in his village. Then he decided to borrow 3 million VND from the VBSP’s local branch to purchase a pair of cattle and grow Napier grass.

As his cattle herd grew, his family has escaped from poverty after 2 years. In 2009, he owned dozens of cattle heads, worth around 400 million VND.

When the beef price dropped, he took out another VBSP loan to shift to wild boar farming. Easy access to the VBSP soft loans has allowed him to have money to develop extra new businesses, like tea growing and deer farming. Now his family grows 26 deers to supply breeders and velvet antler to the market.

Effective use of soft loans fosters sustainable poverty reduction hinh anh 2Vu Tri Long (first, right) is on his tea farm. He not only gets out of poverty but also creates jobs for local labourers. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

He earns about 250 – 300 million VND annually. His business also creates jobs for over 10 local people.

Bui Sy Loi, Vice Chairman for the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs, said the VBSP’s soft loans for the poor have two goals, the main one is to reduce poverty while the other is to create jobs for poverty reduction purpose or for the unemployed.

“Previously, our poverty reduction effort focused on eradicating hunger for ethnic minority people living in far-flung areas and help them out of extremely poverty,” Loi said. “Then we reduced poverty and now, we are reducing poverty sustainably.”

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, approximately 2 million poor and near-poor households and social policy beneficiaries have been provided with the VBSP soft loans so far.

The loans have helped create employment for over 100,000 people, including 1,500 guest workers; build over 800,000 clean water and environmental sanitation works and over 10,000 houses for the poor. Thanks to the source, more than 20,000 disadvantaged students have kept pursuing education./.