ASEAN countries urged to support women-led businesses

Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Author: Minji Kwag

Delegates gather at the ASEAN Women CEO Summit to discuss ways to promote inclusive economic prosperity in ASEAN. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu
Delegates gather at the ASEAN Women CEO Summit to discuss ways to promote inclusive economic prosperity in ASEAN. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu
Delegates gather at the ASEAN Women CEO Summit to discuss ways to promote inclusive economic prosperity in ASEAN. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu
Delegates gather at the ASEAN Women CEO Summit to discuss ways to promote inclusive economic prosperity in ASEAN. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

Hanoi, Viet Nam – A large gathering of female CEOs and their supporters has called on the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help women-owned business and female entrepreneurs gain greater access to financing, new technologies and other resources. 

The ASEAN Women CEO Summit was held on 9 November in Hanoi with about 550 participants from more than 10 countries, including from governments, business, civil society organizations, women-owned enterprises, and international organizations.

The delegates discussed ways to promote more gender-responsive entrepreneurship and economic development in the region. They collectively urged the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and high-level ASEAN officials to improve access for women-owned businesses to opportunities and resources, especially of finance, legal and business support services, from the government, credit institutions and social organizations, among other things.

H.E. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Vice President of Viet Nam, speaks at the Summit. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs of Viet Nam

UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme, funded by the European Union, hosted one of the event’s panel discussions, on Gender-smart Investing.

Jesús Lavina speaks at the WeEmpower Asia session. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

Jesús Lavina, Counsellor-Deputy Head of Cooperation Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Viet Nam, spoke about the gender-responsive trade and investment between the EU and ASEAN and the EU’s support for women’s involvement in the financial system.  


Elisa Fernandez Saenz moderates the WeEmpowerAsia session. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women in Viet Nam, said investors and companies can empower women through their investment and purchasing policies. By overlooking women-owned businesses, “many investors and corporations are missing an opportunity to expand their markets, diversify their supply chains, and grow the economy,” she said.


Nguyen Thi Nga speaks at the panel discussion. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

Nguyen Thi Nga, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at the Viet Nam BRG Group, said the group’s companies are helping women and women-owned enterprises access credit and are working with enterprises that employ many women in supply chains.

Florencia Gozon Tarriela, Chairwoman of the Philippine National Bank, said PNB was updating its sustainability program to include support for “gender-smart lens investing.”

“Prioritizing gender-smart investing means better credit portfolio for banks, improves financial returns, specifically facilitating businesses that support women in the supply chain and businesses, and moves towards financial inclusion,” she said.


Michael DiGregorio (left) and Bui Thu Thuy speak at the panel discussion. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

Michael DiGregorio, Viet Nam Country Representative of the Asia Foundation, encouraged gender-inclusive enterprises to pay attention to current investment trends in order to widen their doors for available funds.

“The COVID-19 crisis has spurred rapid investment in public health, an acceleration of all things digital including e-commerce, fintech and blockchain technologies, and a longer-term focus on all things green,” he said.

Bui Thu Thuy, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Development Agency in the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, said that with UN Women’s help, the Ministry is making more gender-responsive its Decree 39 on Guidelines for Law on Support for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Panelists discuss gender-responsive investing at the WeEmpowerAsia-hosted session. Photo: UN Women/Duc Hieu

The ASEAN Women CEO Summit was organized by Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council and ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network.  



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For further enquiries, please contact:

Minji Kwag
International Communications Consultant, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Email: minji.kwag@unwomen.org

About WeEmpowerAsia 
WeEmpowerAsia is a UN Women programme funded by and in partnership with the European Union that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit http://weempowerasia.org