Vendors in three economic corridor towns in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will see greater access to microfinance and more space available to set up shops with a 2.5 million USD Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant that will build new markets and enhance financing.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on May 22 that it will administer the grant, which compliments three corridor town improvement projects worth 220 million USD, which were approved in 2012.

This project places a particular emphasis on assisting women vendors, said Florian Steinberg, Senior Urban Development Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

It will set aside space in the new market buildings specifically for women vendors, help them access existing local government daycares for their children, and build separate latrines to ensure they can safely spend the day in their workplace, he added.

According to Florian Steinberg, three small markets will be built in Battambang in Cambodia; Kaysone Phomvihane in Laos and and Dong Ha in Vietnam. The towns were chosen for their size, proximity to agricultural production, tourism, and cross-border trade.

Studies will be undertaken to determine the most marketable products with respect to available supply, production, and distribution chains, he said.

Using existing local microfinance organisations to identify and administer loans, up to 600 eligible poor market vendors will be offered microfinance by 2017, and given training and product counseling. At least 70 percent of the loans will be offered to women vendors.

Through the operation of a stall in the new market, beneficiaries in each of the towns will see their real income rise by 2017, compared to 2013 figures, said Florian Steinberg.

The project aims to further leverage opportunities opened up by the East-West Economic Corridor, which has brought greater industrial and commercial activities, including tourism, he noted.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2012, ADB assistance totaled 21.6 billion USD, including 8.3 billion USD of co-financing.-VNA