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Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

women and youth

Do women face more difficulties in self-employment and business-ownership than men do?  Research indicates that globally, there are more barriers to entry for women in terms of starting a business.  In Vietnam, specifically, women have more difficulty starting new businesses and women are also more likely to start very small businesses that are also less secure as a result of systemic problems. There are two significant barriers that women entrepreneurs face:

  • Systemic and unconscious biases embedded within the start-up and entrepreneurial eco-system
  • The above is paired with social and cultural norms that position women as the primary parent. Women have historically been faced with barriers to career advancement as a result of their gendered roles in family planning.

Overall Trends on Women Entrepreneurs in Vietnam

Infographic
Source: #SheMeansBusiness launched to support Vietnamese women entrepreneurs

Commonly Identified Barriers

  1. Financial access and literacy   
  2. Networking challenges and lack of sustainable mentorship  
  3. Gender expectations and norms that prevent women from being hired and promoted 

Opportunities, Approaches, and Initiatives 

hire women

  1. Identifying female run venture capital funds + crowdfunding
  2. Creating more accessible support networks (for example, providing child care services in incubator/accelerator programs for women with children)
  3. Tackling “unconscious bias” while developing innovation strategies 

As explained by Dr. Sarah Saska, unconscious bias refers to the information, attitudes, and stereotypes that inform our subconscious and dictate the process by which we take these mental shortcuts. Unconscious bias is a nexus of attitudes, stereotypes, and cultural norms that we have about different types of people. Therefore, embedding diversity and inclusion strategies into your small business planning (such as hiring and promoting women entrepreneurs) will mean your business will have a better chance of succeeding long-term. Companies that understand their unconscious bias are:

  • More innovative 
  • Smarter
  • Better decision makers
  • Solve problems more effectively
  • Understand the needs of a diverse & global customer base (Phillips, 2016)

When it comes to hiring talent, how can you work to ensure that you’re hiring diverse talent? 

  1. Slow down your decision making
  2. Recognize what you currently have
  3. Consider what is missing from the table
  4. Strive to make it better 

Approaches: 

  • Limit job descriptions to “must-have” qualities
  • Revamp the language in job descriptions for greater inclusivity
  • Remove names and other identity signifiers from job applications
  • Standardize job interview questions

Success Stories

success storiesTriip.me

Lam Thi Thuy Ha had the idea for Triip.me when she was a tour guide in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Triip is a platform that allows local residents to design unique experiences and tours and sell them to travellers. Lam Thi Thuy Ha and her husband founded the company in February 2013. Triip is currently available in 86 countries with roughly 5,000 tours designed by 9000 people and growing all the time. Seventy percent of Triip's “Local Experts” are women in low-income countries, gaining access to the global tourism economy for the first time.

As a woman, Lam Thi Thuy Ha faced barriers in developing Triip in the tourism and high tech industries. And aside from being a business owner, she is also a wife and mother who faces a lot of pressures to successfully operate her business.

How did Lam Thi Thuy Ha and her husband get Triip going? One of their challenges was capital mobilization. After one year, in 2014, the company lacked capital and failed to attract investors. To keep Triip in operation, she sold her house and other valuable belongings. Triip is currently valued at between $1-$1.5 million USD.

The largest challenge for Triip in the market is to find a way to attract travellers and local experts to the site. In the next two years, Tripp.me aims to expand its operation to many new countries and cities, and increase the number of tour bookings through its website.

Competitive advantages 

  • As a tourism product, Tripp has unique tours which are more flexible than traditional tours. The local tour designers set the prices and Tripp receives 10% of the total tour price.
  • Information is key to keeping up with the market. Tripp.me receives information from both the tourist and tour guide. This helps them continuously improve the experience for customers.
  • Tripp.me provides value-added services like travel insurance, to guarantee a safe tour experience for travellers.

Tappy

Tappy is a location-based social application found by Truong Thanh Thuy and her colleagues, Leslie Ngan Nguyen and Thuc Vu. Tappy provides a way to connect any location to an online community where users may find interesting people and relevant information in real time. Users may use Tappy to explore and connect with other people in their area. Businesses may use it to attract customers through promotional content or programs for their locations, and to track and analyze their customers.

How did Tappy get going? The company mobilized $200,000 USD from 50 venture capitalists and other investors in Vietnam such as Mr. Doan Quoc Huy (Management Board of BIM Group) and Darwin Ling. 

Tappy signed more than 40 partners in Vietnam, including Future Now Music Festival, the first EDM festival in Vietnam. In 2015, Tappy became the first start-up product in Vietnam to be purchased by Weeby.com, a famous gaming company in Asia (reference). With this success story from creation to sale, Truong Thanh Thuy, founder of Tappy, stands out as a leader in the management and product development in Asia.

Support Organizations for Women Entrepreneurs in Vietnam

SupportList of support organizations and networks for women-led enterprises in Vietnam.

Ha Noi

Vietnam Women’s Union
39 Hang Chuoi, Pham Dinh Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Ha Noi
Tel: 9713436 - Fax: (84-4) 9713143
Website: http://hoilhpn.org.vn

Hanoi Women Entrepreneurs Association (HNEW)
room 104 – Cung Tri Thuc Building,
01 Pho Ton That Thuyet, Dich Vong Hau Ward, Cau Giay District, Ha Noi
Tel: 04. 3795 9771 - Fax: 04. 3795 9771 - Email: vphnew@hnew.org.vn
Website: http://hnew.org.vn/

Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Association (VAWE)
32, Pho Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi
Tel: 04.32669459; Secretary: Ms. Dao Phuong Thao
Tel: 0975118094
Website: http://vawe.org.vn/

Council of Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs (VWEC)
Tel, 6th, 7th VCCI Building, 09 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da, Ha Noi
Tel: +84-4-35742022 (ext.: 339) / +84-4-35742109/ +84-4-35746936
Fax: +84-4-35742020 / +84-4-35742023/ +84-4-35746937
Email: contact@vwec.com.vn
Website: http://vwec.com.vn/

Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises
G4.1.6 Association of Hanoi Women Small and Medium Enterprises
room 106, 52 Linh Nam Building, Hoang Mai, Ha Noi
Ms. Nguyen Thu Ha – Vice Director
Tel: 0915009773 Fax: 047556868
Email: hoinudoanhnghiep@gmail.com

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh Women’s Union
32 Tran Quoc Thao, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 39349666 - 39349660 Fax: 3934662
Website: http://www.phunu.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/

Ho Chi Minh Women Entrepreneurs Association (HAWEE)
170E Phan Dang Luu, Ward 3, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 08 39956579; Email: hawee@hawee.vn or hawee.hochiminh@gmail.com
Website: http://hawee.vn/

Da Nang City

Da Nang Women’s Union
01 Pasteur, Hai Chau District, Da Nang
Tel: 02363. 82 66 11 - Fax: (02363) 821 329
Email: hoilhpndanang@vnn.vn
Website: www.phunudanang.org.vn

Da Nang Women Entrepreneurs Association
22 Phan Chau Trinh, Da Nang
Tel: 0236 3849 506; Email: thanhdieu@yahoo.com

References:

●    Silcon Valley’s Weeby aquires Vietnam’s Tappy

●    Vietnamese women at forefront of entrepreneurship

●    Vietnam's Female Business Owners Upend Gender Stereotypes

●    Female founders take charge in Vietnam

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