Entitled "Women Entrepreneur Forum: She Means Business", the event was hosted by Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC), a member of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
As the highlight event of the 2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, the Women Entrepreneurs Forum served to demonstrate how women’s economic empowerment and inclusion in the regional economy remains high in the agendas of both APEC and the Vietnam government.
With challenges and barriers to women’s economic integration still present, the forum was a venue to discuss ways to create greater opportunities for women’s economic inclusion and enable their access to the global market.
During her speech in the panel session on women’s economic, financial, and social inclusion as a driver for sustainable and inclusive growth, Stacey Valy Panayioutou, Global Head of Talent and Development for Coca-Cola Company, underscored how investing in women can spur sustainable economic growth and development.
“We have seen that unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of women is one of the most powerful ways to help families and communities prosper,” said Panayioutou. “Over and over, studies have found a direct correlation between women’s empowerment and GDP growth, business growth, environmental sustainability, improved human health, and other positive impacts.”
Panayioutou noted how Coca-Cola’s commitment to women empowerment is not only limited within its system but extends to the local communities the company serves in more than 200 countries worldwide, with a focus on entrepreneurship.
“Through our 5by20 initiative, Coca-Cola aims to support the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs throughout our value chain by 2020,” shared Panayioutou. “Launched in 2010, the programme has since provided 1.7 million women entrepreneurs in 64 countries with access to business skills training, financial services, assets, peer networks, and mentoring through our partnership and collaboration across the Golden Triangle of business, government, and civil society.”
In Vietnam, Coca-Cola implements the 5by20 initiative through its flagship programme EKOCENTER, where it hosts an e-learning training run together with the Vietnam Women’s Union and the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurship Council. E-learning enables the empowerment of women through practical business management training and highlighting the social enterprise model to build on the shared values of business and society.
“Our e-learning program will also go further than offering knowledge, but also provide local women with opportunities to become members of our supply chain,” stressed Panayioutou. “Female entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to become suppliers for other female entrepreneurs in the network or retailers of Coca-Cola. We expect this program will lend a hand to the long-term strategy of Vietnam, lifting the economic bar for women and entire communities.”
The 5by20 e-learning programmes aim to reach 2,000 women across Vietnam by the end of 2017. Together with VWEC, Coca-Cola plans to continue rolling out the programme to three regions in the country, focusing on women at the EKOCENTER.
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