Encouraging women to act as owners means encouraging more women to work, take charge of the governance and create more financial and social values, said Assoc. Prof. and Dr Truong Thi Nam Thang (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Women make up about half of the world’s population and contribute to society’s well-being as well as the economy, said Assoc. Prof. and Dr Truong Thi Nam Thang, Director of the Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurships at the National Economics University.

Below is an interview about the role of businesswomen and the firms they run that Thang gave to Vietnam News Agency recently:

What is the role of female entrepreneurs and women-owned enterprises in an economy?

Simply, they are half of the world and half of the workforce in Vietnam. They contribute to the well-being of society as well as the economy by generating jobs, providing products and services, creating shareholder value, and reinvesting in the economy like any businesses do.

They tend to support ethical business practices; therefore, encouraging women to become entrepreneurs and engage in leadership can promote ethical business practices and corporate social responsibility.

Male-owned enterprises still account for the majority while women make up half of the population. Is encouraging women to start businesses an important factor to promoting the start-up movement that Vietnam is pushing?

The number of women-owned firms is very small compared to those owned by men, although the figure in Vietnam is better when considering many other countries in the world.

Vietnam is a country where gender equality has been promoted, as seen through the fact that women are free to work. The only problem is that society has just let them do small-scale work without big influence.

At foreign-invested businesses and international organisations, Vietnamese women are highly valued by their colleagues because they work very hard and balance their role in their families and at the workplace well. It is noteworthy that the rate of women recruited and promoted at foreign businesses in Vietnam is very high compared to other organisations and businesses.

Definitely, encouraging women to start businesses is crucial in the current start-up ecosystem. According to my study, at companies with female head of the boards of directors, the number of female members of boards of directors and managing boards is also much bigger and the company turns to perform better financially than other firms. It is obvious that encouraging women to act as owners means encouraging more women to work, take charge of the governance and create more financial and social values (since they are more active in charitable work).

Which difficulties do women face when starting and running businesses?

Vietnamese society still holds a bias that women should focus on taking care of their families and children. Due to their education from an early age and society’s notions, women usually feel guilty about being successful, so they do not dare to think big or act bold, and they just do small-scale work.

In terms of personality, they are generally too meticulous and seek perfection. Hence, they often work on their own and do not delegate work to others. 

There is also bullying in the workplace, a phenomenon facing many businesswomen while working with partners, individuals or organisations, especially men. These partners include suppliers who think women are less capable of mastering technical expertise or dealing with consumers or business partners. 

Even women, although they have the same gender, sometimes do not support each other.

Which advantages do women have when they run businesses?

They have good endurance and resistance to stress, good customer service, and skill in resolving crises. Women-owned enterprises often actively engage in social responsibility activities, charitable work, and improvement of living standards, which is useful for building business brands.

The Vietnamese Government has shown determination to support women to start business, as seen through Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s commitment to assist businesswomen, the 2017-2027 plan on support for female start-ups of the Vietnam Women’s Union Central Committee, or the inclusion of women-owned firms in the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Support Law. What do you think about these moves?

I appreciate these moves, which have taken the lead in developing the start-up spirit among women by providing funding and promoting their role in the economy and in society. However, the Vietnam Women’s Union should organise more substantive programmes instead of simply pursuing movements like in the past. 

It is reasonable that the SME Support Law, approved in June 2017, prioritises women-owned businesses if different companies meet all criteria for receiving support. Nevertheless, I’m still waiting for a decree on the law’s implementation guidelines to see how the law is enforced.

Thank you very much! -VNA