Vietnam faces acute challenges in financial inclusion and gender equality. Women own 21 percent of formal enterprises in Vietnam and earn nearly the same as businesses run by men, yet lack equal access to capital. The financing gap for WSMEs in the country is estimated at $6.2 billion. Barriers include the lack of formal financial records, lack of access to collateral, and no differentiated financial products for women-led businesses.
In 2019, the IFC provided a $100 million loan and advisory services package to Oriental Commercial Bank (OCB) in Vietnam to expand its small and medium enterprise portfolio, with a focus on women entrepreneurs. OCB is a mid-tier bank that integrates supply-chain and digital finance initiatives to serve SMEs. It has a network of 120 branches throughout the country.
OCB originally intended to dedicate 50 percent of the loan to women entrepreneurs, but a We-Fi performance incentive is motivating OCB to double its WSME lending volume to $101 million over three years. The project will also enable OCB to build its internal capacity and develop products and services tailored to the needs of WSMEs.
The project is expected to provide financing to more than 1,700 women entrepreneurs and become a benchmark for other financial institutions to grow their women-focused portfolios. We-Fi funding will also contribute to shifting the perception of WSMEs in the financial sector, demonstrating their bankability and untapped potential.
Meet the beneficiary:
- Pham Ti Hoa: Furniture maker receiving financial support and access to networks (page 13, We-Fi Annual Report 2019)