APEC promotes fintech skills of women-led MSMEs amid COVID-19

VOV.VN - The Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs came together with the Secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on December 8 to organise a webinar entitled “Harnessing fintech skills of women-led micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) in promoting inclusive growth against COVID-19”.

The event saw the participation of roughly 80 international and Vietnamese delegates at over 30 virtual sites from 21 APEC members, in addition to five  international and regional organisations.

In his address at the function, Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son highlighted this year as being important for APEC due to the adoption of the APEC Vision to 2040. This is along with the orientation for APEC co-operation over the coming decades, in which innovation, creativity, digitisation, sustainability, inclusivity, and resilient economic growth, represent important pillars of co-operation.

Moving forward, financial technology (fintech) will play a frontline role in promoting financial inclusion in the face of economic shocks, with efficient use of fintech helping women-led MSMEs. It will also help other vulnerable groups to effectively use financial resources that were previously difficult to access through traditional banks and financial institutions, Deputy Minister Son said.

Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, spoke highly of the nation’s initiative to organise the webinar, before sharing that women-led MSMEs are suffering great pressure from the negative effects of social-distancing measures and travel restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the future, APEC must continue to play a leading role in the ongoing challenging situation, whilst striving to put women at the centre of the economic recovery process. Indeed, APEC members should focus on solving challenges, along with on the roles and contributions of women in response to the pandemic, and the recovery process of economic growth, she emphasised.

Francois Painchaud, chief representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Vietnam, stated that fintech plays an important role in minimising the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stressed the positive effects of fintech as a means of boosting economic growth and narrowing the gender gap, before stressing that women should be one of the top priorities to ensure that no one is left behind in the current period.

This marks the first APEC workshop to be held immediately after the APEC Summit Week 2020, with a specific focus being placed on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women-led MSMEs and potential opportunities brought about by fintech for women entrepreneurs in the process of accessing resources. Other areas of interest are solutions to effectively utilise fintech as a way of promoting the recovery of MSMEs by women as a contribution to current inclusive economic and financial recovery efforts.

Along with the success of ASEAN activities with regard to women empowerment in the digital age, the high-level ASEM Dialogue on promoting women's economic empowerment amid the COVID-19 pandemic was held from October 12 to October 13, with the workshop continuing to affirm the role and contributions of the nation.

These functions showed how the country can operate in multilateral frameworks, as well as participating in global efforts to promote gender equality and empowerment, especially in relation to increasing support for women during the economic recovery process as a result of the impact of COVID-19, which has become one of the top priorities at present.

The two-day webinar covers a total of four main sessions under discussion regarding opportunities and challenges caused by fintech for women-led businesses, practices, and experiences in promoting and utilising fintech in APEC member economies. It also proposes various fintech solutions for women-led MSMEs for the economic recovery process and inclusive finance in the Asia-Pacific region.

The workshop is an initiative that was developed and proposed by the country and endorsed by APEC's Policy Partnership for Women and the Economy (PPWE) in 2019. The initiative has received the strong backing of APEC members, with 13 economies involved in co-sponsoring and co-ordinating the implementation of the initiative.