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Thursday, January 20 2022
Tiếng Việt
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Date 23/11/2021-10:19:00 AM
Leveraging Vietnam’s social impact business ecosystem in response to COVID-19
(MPI) - The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Embassy of Canada to Vietnam has launched the “Leveraging Vietnam’s social impact business ecosystem in response to COVID-19 (ISEE-COVID)” project on November 22nd, 2021.

The ISEE-COVID project aims to enhance the resilience and recovery ability of social impact businesses and contribute to addressing the social and gender issues of COVID-19 for vulnerable groups, especially women and young girls. ISEE-COVID will be implemented in three years with a total budget of CAD 3.1 million mainly funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and correspondent funds from UNDP and the Government of Vietnam.

DM Tran Duy Dong chairs the project's launch. Photo: MPI

At the launch, according to MPI Deputy Minister Tran Duy Dong, same as in other countries, the Vietnamese business sector played a crucial role in investment, economic growth, export, and job creation for workers. At the moment, the enterprise sector contributes to 66% of overall GDP, 30% of total employment of the economy, and 97% of import - export turnover. These enterprises participate in almost every industry and field of production and trading, both domestically and internationally. Specifically, recent years have witnessed a rise of innovative business models, which combine commercial business with goals to create positive environmental and social impacts, as known as the model of social impact business (SIB). A balanced combination of social and environmental goals with commercial models allow these businesses to address social and environmental challenges in a sustainable way.

Implementing international commitments, Vietnam has nationalized the 2030 Agenda with 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and is considered as a country with many achievements by the international community in poverty reduction and socio-economic development, effectively contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and the world.

In the implementation of the SDGs, SIB is an essential factor, contributing to economic development and impacting society and environment through job creation and provision of products and services for vulnerable groups in society. Supporting SIBs will help ensure livelihoods, boosting businesses to expand their impact and further devote to sustainable development.

However, there are limitation in SIB activities, due to their low governance capacity, difficulty in accessing financial resources and attraction, retention of quality employees; great risks and obstacles they have to face in the process of transformation to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; the severe impacts of COVID-19, etc. Nonetheless, with their outstanding attempts and eventual mission to help the vulnerable so that no one is left behind, SIB owners are striving their fullest to overcome those hardship and challenges to carry on, survive and develop.

As emphasized by DM Tran Duy Dong, with the commitment to always be at the forefront of innovation and reform, and at the same time ensure effective social protection work to leave no one behind, the MPI has implemented many practical programs and activities to support vulnerable groups, such as the ‘For the community development program, the ‘White Cane initiative for the Blind in Vietnam’, and sponsored a number of vulnerable groups, including SIBs like KymViet, Vun Art, and Tam Ngoc Cooperative.

The MPI highly appreciated the partnership and support from the Government of Canada and the UNDP in launching the ISEE-COVID project. It is expected that the project will contribute to improving the capacity of SIBs, thus helping vulnerable groups including women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities; building capacity and strengthening coordination among intermediaries to support SIBs; strengthening the capacity of State agencies in policy formulation and implementation, thereby creating favorable conditions for the development of SIBs. The project also arouses and promotes the cultural tradition of kindness and goodness to jointly develop a sustainable country.

Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Paul Deborah. Photo: MPI

At the meeting, Paul Deborah, Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam congratulated the Vietnamese Government on the remarkable poverty reduction efforts, in which the private sector plays an important role in achieving this goal. SIBs has provided incredible values to vulnerable communities in Vietnam in response to COVID-19, as well as contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development.

The ISEE-COVID project aims to improve the effectiveness of SIBs, especially those led by women, as a means to address the social and gendered impacts of COVID-19 as well as strengthen the regulatory environment for SIBs to enhance their social and environmental contributions in the community. The project prioritizes support to SIBs in four key industries heavily impacted by COVID-19, namely sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, education, and health. These are also areas with a considerable female workforce and many SIBs offering innovative solutions dedicated to reducing poverty rates among women and young girls.

UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen. Photo: MPI

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative highlighted the timeliness of the project in supporting vulnerable groups and businesses in overcoming the prolonged and damaging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in general, and the SIBs in particular in recovering and modeling a better future.

Caitlin Wiesen strongly believed that the shared development vision, the commitment of the Government in innovation-enabling and the innovations of SIB ecosystem stakeholders will strengthen the resilience and accelerate the development of SIBs in Vietnam. This will be a foundation to the attempts of leaving no one behind and achieving the SDGs.

From the perspective of an SIB, Pham Viet Hoai, KymViet Director said that during its operation, the enterprise has always been offered companionship and sponsorship from the MPI. COVID-19 has affected and caused troubles to the enterprise in terms of capital access, input materials, forcing it to make changes. Pham Viet Hoai hoped that KymViet and other vulnerable groups could benefit from the Project to bring more values for society.

Representatives attend the launch. Photo: MPI

The new project is expected to support 300 SIBs with seed funding and market access, thus creating 9,000 potential jobs for vulnerable people. 90 SIBs will benefit from revenue increases and develop plans to cope with COVID-19 and future shocks. 105 SIBs will have business plans that integrate gender equality, environmental and climate change.

Meanwhile, at least four gender-responsive policies are expected to be developed or revised. An impact business network of at least 100 members would be established. The network would support an impact measurement and management system pilot for 5 to 10 SIBs.

SIBs are entities with both business activities and a commitment to positively impacting society and environment as central factors of their strategic operations. Balancing social/environmental aims with a commercial model allows them to sustainably solve social and environmental challenges.

The project will apply an ecosystem approach to tackle the inter-connected and systemic challenges that SIBs face. It will improve the capacity of SIBs themselves; build the capacity of and coordination between SIB intermediaries, and strengthen government policy-making capacities to enable the growth of SIBs./.

Bao Linh
Ministry of Planning and Investment

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