Promoting Digital Transformation for Women-owned SMEs

10:31:29 AM | 8/19/2022

Digital transformation is an inevitable trend and choice for businesses, including women-owned enterprises. Digital transformation is also a solution to help businesses to cope with the crises of epidemics, natural disasters and climate change.

This was shared by Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council - VWEC, VCCI at the seminar on "Digital transformation for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises". The seminar was recently organized in Hanoi by VWEC, the Department of Enterprise Development (the Ministry of Planning and Investment) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through the project on "Promoting reform and improving the connecting capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises” (LinkSME).

Digital transformation has cast an increasing impact on small and medium-sized businesses around the world. Digital transformation brings both opportunities and new approaches to help businesses to participate in the global economy. Women-owned enterprises in Vietnam still face significant challenges in digital transformation. They still lack knowledge about digital transformation, and do not have many opportunities to access the necessary technical support for digital transformation.

“Digital transformation is no longer a distant prospect, but an inevitable trend. In order to become digital and take advantage of unprecedented opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, enterprises, especially women-owned enterprises, need to constantly innovate and get ready to ‘take action’, ‘make a breakthrough’, actively build a digital transformation strategy, starting from transforming the perception of employers and employees and promptly taking action to make a breakthrough in the business,” affirmed Ms. Minh.

The digital transformation program to 2025, with a vision to 2030, has set a very clear vision that: Vietnam will become a prosperous digital country which pioneers in the application of technologies and comprehensive fundamental innovation in the public authorities and production and business activities of enterprises and people in a safe digital environment.

A statistic shows that, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, only 20% of enterprises had been interested in digital transformation. After six months, the percentage was more than 70% and over 50% of them started operating digitally. Therefore, in responding to the program, VCCI has launched three strategic moves, including promoting digital transformation in the business community, creating a foundation to seize opportunities, changing business models, adjusting products brought into the market, and improving the efficiency and competitiveness of enterprises.

According to Ms. Trinh Thi Huong, Deputy Director of the Department of Enterprise Development, the preliminary statistics show that currently, the number of enterprises owned by women accounts for about 24-25% of the total number of enterprises in the country. The women-owned enterprises are most concentrated in the wholesale and retail service industries, accounting for about 75%; the processing and manufacturing industry 14.6%; science and technology 7.3%. In the current context, Vietnamese enterprises, especially women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises, are facing great challenges from the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been changing people's lives and habits, causing unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and forcing enterprises to change and adapt.

“The need for digital transformation becomes urgent for enterprises to innovate models, gradually shifting business activities on digital platforms, finding more markets, cutting costs and improving operational efficiency, competitiveness, adapting to the new context," said Ms. Huong.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Le Quyen from the Enterprise Development Department, there are six benefits that digital transformation brings to small and medium-sized enterprises, which include expanding potential customers and markets; increasing experience; creating new products that are more suitable; optimizing operating costs, personnel costs; increasing business and production efficiency; helping business leaders make quick and accurate decisions.

Ms. Quyen also said that the recent survey of 1,500 businesses showed that businesses had faced many difficulties in terms of investment costs, changing habits, and lack of human resources to carry out digital transformation. Since January 2021, the program of supporting enterprises to promote digital transformation through integration and application of digital technology to improve the efficiency of production and business activities, improve capacity and competitive advantage and create new values ​​for businesses has been implemented. In particular, some main activities are building knowledge documents; digital transformation training; expanding the network of experts; supporting in-depth consulting toward the roadmap, standard framework, connecting businesses and experts; supporting solutions on consulting and implementation; launching communication to be able to spread to the community.

The USAID LinkSME project and the Ministry of Planning and Investment have provided intensive technical support to 100 small and medium-sized enterprises, including 10 women-owned enterprises, to improve business strategies and enhance production capacity by applying a digital transformation roadmap, traceability solutions and e-commerce. In the coming time, about 150 women-owned enterprises and thousands of female entrepreneurs will be the next beneficiaries.

Anh Mai (Vietnam Buisness Forum)