The report “Women-owned enterprises in Vietnam: Perceptions and Potential” published by IFC strongly regconizes Vietnam’s women enterpreneurs as one of the brightest opportunities within SME sector. Moreover, the demand for credit from this group creates a potential market for banks.
According to IFC, in the past two years, 37 per cent of women-owned SMEs have accessed banks loans, compared to 47 per cent of male bussiness owners. Even when women entrepreneurs do quality for a bank loan, they tend to receive less than what they asked for and lower amounts than men.
Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos stressed that it is time for Vietnam’s banks to see women-owned SMEs as a segment of potential and individual customers who need more suitable products and services.
Vietnam’s women own 21 per cent of formal enterprises of which, the majority are microenterprises, 42 per cent are SMEs and one per cent are large enterprises. Women-owned businesses are similar in size to those of men with similar average annual revenues.
However, most banks have yet to consider adopting strategies that cater to women-owned enterprises. Most banks either see no need for a different approach to women businesses or view the segment as less profitable.
Indeed, some have suggested that women are less business savvy and require more support and are therefore costlier customers to acquire and serve.
In order to capitalize on the women-owned SME segment and better leverage this opportunity as well as fully recognize their contribution to Vietnam’s economy, IFC recommends that Vietnam’s bank should recognize SMEs managed by women as a separate and strategic customer segment.
In addition, banks could improve products and services to women-owned SMEs by supporting platforms providing relevant non-financial services, thereby addreessing their lack of access to financing, information, skills and new markets.