APEC looks to improve capacity of female-led MSMEs amid COVID-19

Tuesday, 2020-12-08 17:52:32
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Delegates at the workshop (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – An APEC tele-workshop on harnessing fintech skills of women-led MSMEs in promoting inclusive growth against COVID-19 took place on December 8, drawing the participation of nearly 80 delegates from 21 APEC member economies and five international and regional organisations.

An initiative of Vietnam supported by 13 member economies, the workshop was approved by APEC’s Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) in 2019.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son considered 2020 a milestone year for APEC, as its leaders approved the APEC Vision 2040, which guides intra-bloc cooperation for the decades to come. Innovation, digitalisation, sustainable and inclusive growth, and self-reliance are among the key pillars of such cooperation, he added.

Fintech (financial technology) is taking the lead in boosting inclusive finance amid economic shocks, the diplomat noted.

He said that taking advantage of fintechs helps female-led MSMEs (micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises) and other vulnerable groups utilise financial sources that in the past they could not access via the traditional banking system.

Executive director of the APEC Secretariat Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria praised Vietnam’s initiative in organising the workshop.

Talking about the obstacles and pressure facing women-led MSMEs due to pandemic-related social distancing and travel restrictions, she stressed that APEC should maintain its leading role amid this difficult time, placing women at the centre of economic recovery.

Attention should be paid to not only the challenges but also women’s role in and contribution to the COVID-19 response and post-pandemic recovery, she added.

Lasting until December 9, the workshop will discuss the impact of the pandemic on MSMEs as well as opportunities brought about by fintech for female entrepreneurs in approaching resources. It also suggests solutions to capitalise on the technology to help the group recover and contribute to boost economic recovery and inclusive growth in Asia-Pacific.

Founded in 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an inter-governmental forum that comprises 21 economies: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan (China), Thailand, the US, and Vietnam.