Initiative supports businesses to address social, gendered impacts of COVID-19

Tuesday, 2021-11-23 15:50:11
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At the launch event (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Canada in Vietnam)
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NDO/VNA – A project was launched on November 22 to enhance the resilience of social impact businesses and contribute to reducing the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups, especially women and girls.

It is jointly carried out by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), and the Embassy of Canada to Vietnam.

The project entitled ‘Leveraging Vietnam’s Social Impact Business Ecosystem in Response to COVID-19’, ISEE-COVID project, will be implemented in three years with a total budget of 3.1 million CAD (2.44 million USD) mainly funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and some correspondent fund from UNDP and the Government of Vietnam.

The project will apply an ecosystem approach to tackle the inter-connected and systemic challenges that social impact businesses (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 for enabling SIBs.

Canadian Ambassador Paul Deborah said SIBs provide incredible value to vulnerable communities in Vietnam in response to COVID-19, as well as contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development.

“Our shared ambition is 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 SIB regulatory environment in order to enhance their social and environmental contributions in the communities they serve,” she underlined.

The project prioritises 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 large female workforce and many SIBs offering innovative solutions dedicated to reducing poverty rates among women and girls.

For his part, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Duy Dong said the MPI has implemented many practical programmes and activities to support vulnerable groups and sponsored a number of vulnerable groups.

The project is expected contribute to improving the capacity of SIBs, thus helping vulnerable groups including women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities; build capacity and strengthen coordination among intermediaries to support social impact businesses; strengthen the capacity of state agencies in policy formulation and implementation, thus creating favorable conditions for the development of social impact businesses, he remarked.

The new project is expected to support 300 SIBs with seed funding and market access, thus creating potentially 9,000 jobs for vulnerable people. Ninety SIBs will benefit from revenue increases and develop plans to cope with COVID-19 and future shocks, while 05 SIBs will have business plans that integrate gender and/or environment 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 5-10 SIBs.

UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen 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 emphasised to crucial role of the private sector in general, and social impact businesses in particular, in recovering and building forward better.

She said she strongly believes that the shared development vision, the commitment of innovation-enabling government, combined with the creativity and innovations of social impact business ecosystem stakeholders will strengthen the resilience and accelerate the development of SIBs in Vietnam.

“This in turn is foundational to leaving no one behind and achieving the SDGs,” she said.

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