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According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2020 (MIWE 2020) report, women around the world have been deeply affected by the global health crisis, with 87 per cent of female business owners negatively impacted. The pandemic exacerbated the pre-existing gender inequality, disrupting women’s lives and livelihoods to a greater extent than men. However, the pandemic clearly shows the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity, as well as their enormous potential.
One of the areas that has received the clearest contributions by women is economics. Vietnam ranks 25th in the list of economies in the world that provide the best support for women doing business, according to MIWE 2020.
Vietnam ranked the highest in Southeast Asia (seventh out of the 54 countries surveyed) in terms of the number of female business owners who are present in most fields and are putting their considerable acumen behind the country’s efforts to improve its position in the eyes of foreign investors and innovate production. Successful female entrepreneurs creating Vietnamese brands and products that are famous not only in the region but worldwide include Vinamilk CEO Mai Kieu Lien, TH Group founder Thai Huong, BRG Group chairwoman Nguyen Thi Nga, Vietjet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, NutiFood CEO Tran Thi Le; Muong Thanh Hospitality CEO Le Thi Hoang Yen, and Alphanam CEO Nguyen Ngoc My, among others.
In particular, in the context of the pandemic, female entrepreneurs have been transmitting positive energy to employees and maintained business among all vicissitudes while accompanying the government’s dual goals of effective disease prevention, recovery and socioeconomic development. In social activities, many women have won awards in the fields of healthcare, education, culture, journalism, and sports, becoming an inspiration for the community.
VIR presents several female faces who have made important contributions during these trying times. Although they have different nationalities and work in different fields in Vietnam, their confidence, love for the job, and the successes they have achieved have contributed to closing the gap and encouraging their fellow women in Vietnam to create good values for the community, and forcing back the gloomy shadows of the pandemic.
Hanh Le - Country representative, Global Green Growth Institute in Vietnam
In April 2020, I took on the role of country representative for the Global Green Growth Institute in Vietnam. It was a time of fear for our health, of uncertainty for the economy, of loss in our normal way of life, of separation from our loved ones. I took on the role with the extra weight on my shoulders to ensure safety for our staff and ensure business goes on uninterrupted.
Strategic considerations have to be balanced with practical reality. In the midst of the crisis, the three golden principles that I adopted as my guiding posts have really helped me get through these challenging times.
First, staff safety and wellbeing is always the number one criteria in my decision-making. Second, being open to accept help from others is a sign of strength, not weakness. Third, “making it count” is at the core of everything I do.
In a time of crisis, we no longer have the luxury to be complacent. I want my actions to be as impactful as possible. And as a result, our team and business have grown over the pandemic crisis, and is expected to even triple in size this year.
I strongly believe that Vietnamese women can be successful in any situation we are put in. For the post-pandemic era, the key messages I would like to send to young girls and women in our country are to be yourself: be authentic. Keep your hopes alive and never give up your dreams.
Support other women, especially in a difficult time like this, and above all, be grateful. As author Amy Collette said, “Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness”
And remember, you cannot and should not try to please everyone – keep in mind my first advice and find a way to be true to yourself.
Thai Van Linh - Shark Tank Vietnam
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned over the years is that it is very important to surround yourself with people who are supportive and who are very talented. Once you have built a support network, it is even more important to practice how to ask for help.
I think many of us think that we have to do everything on our own. If we work hard enough, we can do everything. We think that we have to be the perfect colleague, the perfect mum, and the perfect friend – but the reality is that nobody is perfect.
Especially in difficult times like the past year, it is especially important to know when to help others and when to ask for help. I always think of one of my favorite quotes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
COVID-19 has created a lot of changes in the business environment. Some of these changes are particularly advantageous for women.
The first is the acceptance of work from home by many companies. So for women who chose to opt out of an office job because of children, now is the time to consider joining the workforce again. The new normal has created an environment that makes it easier to work from home and therefore, easier for women to balance taking care of children, taking care of the home, as well as having a thriving career.
The changes in the workforce have also forced many people to learn new skills. So if you find that your skills are outdated, or that you do not have the right skills to pursue a job in the new economy, then now is the perfect time to start learning because everybody else is also learning something new.
So when you apply for a job, the people you are competing against could likely be people who are new to the field or do not have as many years of experience. So it is a great time for anybody who wants to upskill or get back into the workforce.