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Vietnam, US Work to Digitise Vietnamese SMEs

The Enterprise Development Agency (EDA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is coordinating with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in accelerating digital transformation and building capacity for broader access to finance.

Earlier this week, MPI and USAID jointly hosted a workshop called Empowering Small and Medium Enterprises Through Digital Transformation and Access to Finance. The event was set up through the USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME) project.

According to EDA Director, Le Manh Hung, SMEs are facing major obstacles to their post-COVID-19 recovery. Digital transformation and access to finance are prerequisites for SMEs to address new challenges, revive and expand business and production, and enhance competitiveness so as to sustainably engage in domestic and global supply chains.

Nearly 400,000 SMEs have been provided with access to guidebooks on digital transformation last year and the first half of 2022, an official stated. Over 600 firms have had their readiness evaluated and 100 have received in-depth consultation on the matter. Additionally, the EDA and LinkSME have jointly organised training courses on developing financial strategies for more than 500 SMEs, 14 of which were given advice on debt restructuring and access to approved loans worth up to US$ 5 million.

Two digital platforms have been developed to provide SMEs with tools, reports, and documents related to digital transformation and access to finance. The workshop also aimed to provide an opportunity for participating SMEs to share and discuss their needs and seek suitable solutions for digital transformation and access to finance through service providers, financial firms, and credit institutions.

The country is currently home to about 785,000 SMEs, which make up more than 98% of the total number of businesses. They create jobs for 70% of the country’s labourers and contribute about 50% of GDP. Data from the Department of Enterprise Management showed that country’s GDP could surge by US$30 billion if the country successfully digitally transforms its SMEs. Firms engaging in digital transformation have reported higher productivity and profits two-fold compared to their peers.

In May, the government of the northern province of Vinh Phuc launched a smart factory development project to train 100 Vietnamese experts and provide consultation to help 50 SMEs set up smart factories in 2022 and 2023. The project is expected to help S MEs improve the provision of supporting products and meet the production requirements of large corporations, gradually joining regional and global supply chains.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, consultants will be trained for 12 weeks to improve their knowledge and skills in setting up smart factories. The smart factory cooperation project is the latest programme in a series of innovative consulting activities for Vietnamese businesses and training experts to strengthen industry development activities. Through the application of emerging technologies in production and manufacturing, businesses can improve their productivity and product quality, and reduce production costs.

The project also aims to strengthen the connection between enterprises and local authorities, and between FDI enterprises and domestic investment enterprises. To ensure the effective implementation of the project, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade asked the region’s departments and agencies to formulate flexible supporting policies that encourage enterprises to participate in global supply chains. He proposed that the private partner develop specific training programmes suitable to the characteristics and conditions of participating enterprises.

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