Women in Business
Improving Business Capacity Through Improved Access to Economic Information for Ethnic Minority Women in Lac Son District – Hoa Binh Province
I. PROBLEM STATEMENT
Moc Chau is a district of Son La province located in the Northwest of Vietnam. This region has good conditions in terms of climate, soil and rainfall regime and suitable for agricultural development. Moc Chau is well-known for its high-quality vegetables and fruits and other agricultural products. It possesses an unique and diversified culture of varied ethnic groups, which is attractive to tourists. Therefore, Moc Chau has potential to successfully develop business for its local products.
According to an official of Moc Chau District, almost no women are heads of enterprises. Women usually run small businesses and conduct small transactions; otherwise, they trade their products to traders who always lower their prices. This is due to the fact that Moc Chau women, especially the Thai and Hmong women, are not confident and lack skills and knowledge on trading and marketing their own products. Consequently, they are in weak position in the society. Therefore, it is of great importance to help create a mechanism for them to learn and share commercial knowledge with each others in an innovative and effective way so that they could trade their products. As such, they will improve their status in the domestic and public spheres.
Estimated number of direct beneficiaries: 3000
- Moc Chau District Women’s Union, Women’s Union at the commune and village level, and cooperative groups, cooperatives active in Moc Chau district
- Moc Chau District People’s Committee and related sub-departments and units in Moc Chau district
- Enterprises / Distributors of clean agricultural products in the district and province
- Moc Chau Radio and Television of Son La province and Moc Chau district
III. PROJECT GOALS, OBJECTIVES, AND ACTIVITIES
This project aims to contribute to the increased voice of the Thai and Hmong ethnic minority women through awareness raising and improved business skills, and effective access to and use of information to encourage them to participate in the decision-making process and design of local socio-economic development policies.
- To support the Women’s Union of Moc Chau District to carry out the tasks and national targets regarding women startup in the period 2016-2020.
- To enhance access and to exchange market information for higher agri-business efficiency and economic improvements for women in Moc Chau district.
- To raise status of the Thai and Hmong women.
1.1 Organize inception workshop on the Law of access to information, focusing on advantages and difficulties of the local government and the Thai and Hmong women in providing and accessing information about market and economic development policies.
1.2 Assess the needs of the stakeholders in providing and accessing information in economic development for the Thai and Hmong ethnic minority women.
2.1 Set up a Women’s Startup Club in cooperation with the Moc Chau District Women’s Union which will later be managed by the District Women’s Union and develop the club’s operational regulations and elect its board of management.
2.2 Assess capacity and needs of club members.
2.3 Design training materials based on the assessment report on capacity and needs of club members.
2.4 Provide training in business planning, marketing and management for club members.
3.1 Establish electronic communication channel to provide knowledge and skills on start-up business, and agricultural market information (trends, consumer demand, price …)
3.2. Support the club members to set up communication channel: register information portal, make a list of and invite new members, plan the club’s quarterly and annual activities, update information for the channel.
3.3 Build capacity for club members so that they can search information about market prices, consumption places and support policies; and updated information about their clean agricultural products.
4.1 Organize seminar to introduce the club’s information portal to local authorities and agricultural enterprises in and outside of the district, and link the Women’s Startup Club to enterprises.
4.2 Invite Son La province’s media organizations, such as the Son La Provincial Electronic Newspaper, Radio and TV station of Son La province and Moc Chau district to participate in the seminar to disseminate the news.
Activity 5: Evaluation
5.1 Mid-term evaluation
5.2 Final evaluation
Son La has recently tried hard to enhance the role of women in local economic development. Son La has been implementing a number of development policies through agricultural development programs, such as strategy and implementation of activities that enhance access to information and support for economic development for women in general and start-up women in particular as stipulated in Article 2; 10 and 11 of Decree No. 13/2018/NĐ-CP on Detailed Provisions and Measures to Implement the Law on Access to Information dated on January 13, 2018. Despite the favorable conditions of the policy environment, according to the chair woman of the Moc Chau District Women’s Union, the district has not been able to set up any start-up group for women to help them with production and trading of indigenous agricultural products in Moc Chau district. As such, the Thai and Hmong women are experiencing challenges in agricultural development and business as follows:
- No access to potential markets due to lack of market and market information and lack of network connectivity.
- Inequality in agricultural development and business due to isolated geographic conditions, and no opportunities to make decision at home.
- Lack of other enterprises involved in the agricultural value chain.
This proposed project aims to strengthen the voice of the Thai ethnic minority women through awareness raising and improved business skills, and effective access to and use of information to encourage them to participate in the decision-making process and design of local socio-economic development policies.
The project will employ the community asset building (CAB) approach. CAB emphasizes that community assets (human, natural, social and economic) need to be identified along with the participatory definition of needs and problems as the first major step in community development. This emphasis leads to more creative, self-reliant and feasible actions that significantly “build on and improve” rather than “remove and replace”.
Assets are anything that can be possessed and used to produce a stream of income or other value over time. In this sense, assets in the project site include forests, land, water, bio-diversity, networks or individuals, social capital, civic culture, marketable skills, indigenous knowledge, personal savings, and equity stakes in a business. The Thai people can reduce poverty and injustice when they use assets to:
- Generate income, livelihoods or subsistence
- Provide security for hard times
- Improve an individual’s capabilities to succeed in life
- Provide a head start for the next generation
- Motivate long term planning and investment in the future
- Create an individual’s stake in collective vision and action
- Acquire other assets
These resources are identified as an important first step in the process of assessing people’s needs and the issues they face in community development. Within the framework of this proposed project, the Thai ethnic minority women will be surveyed for needs assessments, capacity building and access to information. They will be more active in mobilizing their resources for economic development and achieving financial independence, thereby enhancing their status in both domestic and public spheres.
When the problems mentioned above are solved the following results are expected:
- By the end of the project, a two-way access to information model for the Thai and Hmong ethnic minority women is constructed.
- The voice of Thai and Hmong women through awareness raising and business skills, and access to and effective use of information is increased so that they can actively participate in decision-making and designing of local socio-economic development policies.
This proposed project will be implemented under the auspices of the Center for Environment and Community Assets Development (CECAD). CECAD is a non-governmental organization that was established by a group of researchers and practitioners with an interdisciplinary background, which includes biology, ecology, environment studies, conservation, community development, resource management, economics and sociology. CECAD work across two offices with a headquarter based in Hanoi and a second office established amongst the projects in the commune of Tu Ne, Tan Lac District, Hoa Binh province. CECAD’s projects are situated in the Northern mountainous province of Dien Bien, Son La, and Hoa Binh as well as in the Central Highlands and the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam. With the mission of “Towards sustainable rural livelihoods”, the general objectives of CECAD are to reduce poverty and to ensure social equity and sustainable development, particularly in remote areas where ethnic minorities reside.
CECAD has been awarded the Certificate of Merit in 2008 and 2014 by the district of Tan Lac, and the People’s Committee of Tu Ne commune, Hoa Binh province for its great contributions to strengthening the locals’ capacity and poverty alleviation in the district.
For the last 4 years CECAD has worked together with people and local authorities to establish a quality assurance system with participation (Participatory Guarantee System – PGS) for organic products including vegetables, fruits (pomelo), pork and chicken with participatory monitoring of all components of the value chain, such as: producers, traders, stores, consumers, local authorities, etc. Marketing, design, packaging, labeling, branding and market and consumption channel development in major cities such as Hanoi has been simultaneously implemented. CECAD has been a bridge to help the Muong people in Tan Lac district, Hoa Binh province connect and market their products in organic food shops in Hanoi, such as Uncle Tom, Tam Dat, and AVNMart, contributing to cultural preservation and environmental protection, stable livelihoods, increasing incomes and added value of goods through ensuring the operation of the value chain so that local people can be assured in production and conversion from conventional farming to organic farming.
In 2014, CECAD has been granted an award to implement the project “Improving Forest Governance for Climate Sustainability in the Poor Ethnic Minority Communes of Hua Pang and Chieng Hac, Moc Chau District, Son La province” by the Fund for Local Cooperation (FLC) of the Embassy of Finland in Ha Noi. The project aimed to contribute to sustainable use of natural resources and socio-economic development of the poor ethnic minority communes of Chieng Hac and Hua Pang, Moc Chau district, Son La province. The project had successfully developed the agro-forestry model, and the cooperative groups’ model to promote the cooperation of households. Members of the animal husbandry and fruit tree plantation models have increased their income from organic pig raising and fruit selling, thus minimizing the pressure on natural forests and at the same time contributing to poverty alleviation. More importantly, the cooperative groups’ model has promoted the cooperation between households, thus strengthening solidarity within the community.
Dr. Le Thi Van Hue has been working at CECAD as Project Coordinator. She has led or been involved in research projects and development projects funded by a range of different donors. She has been working very closely with her partners in Moc Chau, including the Moc Chau District Women’s Union, Sub-departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Planning and Economics, Forest Protection Sub-Department of Moc Chau; Members of ethnic minority-led community-based organizations (CBOs) of those who have the same interest in forest protection and management in Hua Pang and Chieng Hac communes. Dr. Hue will be Project Coordinator. She will work closely with Dr. Nga, Dr. Thanh and Dr. Minh during the entire process of implementing the project to make sure that the project will be successfully implemented.
V. PROJECT EVALUATION
The project evaluation will be conducted at the 5th and 11th month of the project implementation. We will examine to what extent we have supported the Thai and Hmong ethnic minority women to improve their voices, awareness and business skills, as well as their access to the market and participation to the decision-making process of local socio-economic development policies. We will use survey, personal interviews and site visit to collect qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness, efficiency, impacts and sustainability of the project implementation. The evaluation will follow a four-step procedure: (1) we will carry out evaluation planning, including defining stakeholders and survey design. After we conduct the evaluation to gather evidence (2), we will analyse the data and draw conclusions (3). All stakeholders and partners will also meet on-site or online to discuss the findings on the project progress and achievements, along with suggestions for improvement or solutions. Finally, progress and final report will be issued and sent to key stakeholders, including CECAD personnel, Women Startup Club, and the funding agency. Indicators of progress and performance of the project will be marked ‘To do’, ‘In progress’, “Completed’ or ‘Not Completed’. Impacts and sustainability of the project will be also assessed and discussed, especially in the final report.
Sustainability of the project will be evaluated with the participation of the local stakeholders. The Women’s Startup Club will be the main partner to ensure the sustainability of the project. Their knowledge and skills, organizational and financial, will be monitored to examine whether they are able to function independently after the project ends. Impacts of the project will be inspected with selected indicators to examine how the project contributes to long-term goals of improving women’s capacity and power.
- Objective 1
- Needs Assessment of Thai and Hmong ethnic minority women
- Objective 2
- Establishment of Women Startup Club
- Number of club members trained on business planning, marketing and management
- Objective 3
- Establishment of electronic communication channel
- Number of club members trained on accessing and updating the channel
- Frequency and information amount that club members access and update on the channel
- Objective 4
- Number of local enterprises, authorities participating in the seminar
- Cost of the project implementation
- Knowledge of trainees on business planning, marketing and management
- Skills of trainees in communication channel management
- Plans on finance and organization of the Club after the project completion
- Capacity of club members to access agricultural market
Potential risks associated with your project:
- Local authorities are not interested in the project because they are too busy with their own schedules
- The local community will not be interested in participating in the project because they do not see benefits right away
- Ethnic minority women hesitate to participate in training courses due to cultural and language barriers