Vietnamese representatives talk on the sidelines of the 2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum in Hue city in late September (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnamese women, renowned for extremely entrepreneurial and hard working spirit, have made their mark on the country's intensive and extensive economic integration, and earned both domestic and international recognition.

Impressive rankings

According to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the rate of women-owned businesses in Vietnam is the highest in Asia-Pacific, at approximately 25 percent.

This rate is even higher according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017 which was released in April at 31.4 percent, putting Vietnam seventh among the 54 markets surveyed in terms of female business ownership.

Vietnam, with a score of 65, ranks 19th among the 54 markets in the Mastercard Index. It and the Philippines (eighth place) were the only lower middle income economies in the top 20. Fifteen others are high income economies and three are upper middle income ones.

“This is impressive and Vietnam should congratulate itself for these rankings,” World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Ousmane Dione said. “Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement and to further move up the rankings by creating a conducive environment to foster women entrepreneurs.”

“Vietnamese women are extremely entrepreneurial and hard working. They contribute significantly to household income, and by and large they are supported by their husbands and families. Vietnam has been growing at six percent plus over the past few years and this is indicative of the contributions of women to business and the economy,” he added.

Tu Thu Hien, founder and Director of the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE), said: “Many women-owned businesses have been successful, grown strongly and stretched their reach to the world such as Vietjet Air, TH True Milk and Vinamilk. These firms are all run by very talented women and have gained successes at the international scale, not only in Vietnam.”

“Women-owned enterprises play a huge role, greatly contributing to the economy, society and their employees,” Hien noted.

Multiple recognitions

At the 2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, held in Hue city in late September, two Vietnamese women won prizes in the APEC Business Efficiency and Success Target Awards.

Hoang Minh Nhat, founder of the Minh Nhat bread chain, was recognized in the category of “highest growth potential” and General Director of the Chau Thong Co. Ltd Nguyen Thi My Lien received the special prize.

Hoang Minh Nhat (second, right), founder of the Minh Nhat bread chain, was recognised in the category of “highest growth potential” of the APEC Business Efficiency and Success Target Awards in late September (Photo: VNA)

There are 20 Minh Nhat bread brand shops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The winner of the Masterchef Vietnam 2014 said she started her company in 2014 and now employs 300 people. She plans to increase the number of shops to 100 in the next two years in other parts of Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Lien began a company dealing in wood products in the central city of Da Nang three years ago. Chau Thong earns about 10 billion VND (440,000 USD) in revenue each year.

Seven Vietnamese businesswomen were also recognised as outstanding ASEAN women entrepreneurs in 2016. They included Do Vu Phuong Anh – Deputy General Director of Doji Gold and Gems Group,  Nguyen Bich Hoa – General Director of the Minh Khai Trading Joint Stock Company, Thai Huong – Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at TH Group, Pham Thi Huan – Chairwoman of the Board of Director at Ba Huan Co. Ltd, Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen – General Director of Garment 10 Corporation, Le Hong Thuy Tien – General Director of Imex Pan Pacific Co. Ltd, and Ninh Thi Ty – Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at Ho Guom Garment Joint Stock Company.

Earlier this year, Forbes Vietnam named the 50 most influential women of the country in 2017, with 20 women entrepreneurs on the list.

Chu Thi Thanh Ha, Chairwoman of FPT Telecom, was one of them. Her company has set up nearly 200 transaction offices in 59 provinces and cities nationwide while owning several branches in Cambodia and Myanmar.

Meanwhile, General Director of Vietjet Air Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has helped this budget airline expand its wings across Vietnam and to more than 30 destinations in Asia.

Another entrepreneur in the Forbes list was Mai Kieu Lien, who has turned the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) into a leading dairy producer that now owns 10 farms and 13 factories in Vietnam, along with three plants in the US, New Zealand and Cambodia, and a subsidiary in Poland.

Role models for the next generation

Regarding the growing presence of Vietnam’s women-led businesses in foreign markets, WB Country Director Dione said: “This is very inspiring and I think this is testament to the potential of Vietnamese women entrepreneurs and their positive contributions to the country’s economy. I also think that many Vietnamese women entrepreneurs can serve as role models for the next generation of younger women entrepreneurs.”

He added: “Further Regional Integration and ASEAN provide substantial growth opportunities and access to larger markets and value chains that can continue to provide growth opportunities for women led businesses in Vietnam. It is imperative though that the government also recognise this potential and ease some of the constraints facing women entrepreneurs.”

Echoing this view, Alicia Robb, founder and CEO of Next Wave Ventures, told Vietnam News Agency that: “I was really impressed with the enthusiasm and passion of the entrepreneurs I met with while I was in Vietnam.  They were also quite aware of areas they needed to work on and then need to find mentors and advisors that can help them on their journeys of growing their businesses.  I see a lot of potential in all of them!”-VNA