COVID-19 Relief for Women-Led Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
The COVID-19 Relief for Women-Led Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Project is a sovereign grant that will provide $5,000,000 of grant funding to help female entrepreneurs in Viet Nam maintain access to finance during because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It is funded by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and will incentivize participating banks to restructure existing loans and to extend new loans. At least 500 women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs) are expected to benefit.
The project started in April 2021 and will run for up two years. However, given the urgency to distribute the funds to respond to COVID-19, the project is expected to close much earlier as soon as the funds can be allocated.
The project is being implemented in partnership with five of Viet Nam’s leading banks: Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Bank for Investments and Development of Viet Nam, Saigon-Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank, and Viet Nam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank.
Each of these five banks will design their own incentives for new loans and/or will use the grant to pay the interest for up to six months for existing loans.
The funds are available to the banks on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Banks that are more effective at identifying eligible clients will be able to claim more of the grant.
All eligible enterprises must qualify as small and medium-sized enterprises by either (i) borrowing for an original principal amount between $5,000 and $1 million or (ii) meeting 2 out of the 3 following sub-criteria: (a) between 10 and 300 employees, (b) total assets between $100,000 to $15 million, and (c) annual sales between $100,000 and $15 million.
Eligible enterprises must also qualify as women-led or women-owned businesses by either (i) being at least 51% owned by a woman or women; or (ii) meeting all of the following 3 sub-criteria: (a) at least 20% owned by a woman or women, (b) a woman as the senior or second most senior executive, and (c) at least 30% of the board members are women (where a board exists).
The incentives for new loans are only available to women-led/owned businesses that are first time clients of the bank. However, these businesses may have borrowed from other financial institutions or may have non-borrowing relationships with the bank.
Participating banks may add their own supplemental eligibility criteria.
Updates in 2022
On the first half of 2022, under the COVID-19 Relief for Women-Led Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (WSME) Project, ADB continued to incentivize participating banks to restructure loans and/or extend new loans to support affected WSMEs. By 30 June 2022, $3.9 million (79% of grant amount) has been disbursed to participating banks, and 454 restructured loans or new loans were granted to women entrepreneurs. The support from the COVID-19 Relief Grant Project and associated business counseling program have helped women entrepreneurs to cope with economic shocks, avoid bankruptcy, preserve jobs, and develop business skills needed to lead their businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. The attached graphic is on the grant funds usage by participating banks as of 30 June 2022.
As of 30 September 2022, cumulative disbursement was $4.54 million (90.8% of the grant amount). 521 restructured or new loans have been granted to eligible WSMEs. A survey on the impact of the grant support and associated business counseling were conducted for the clients of four participating banks. Close to 100 WSMEs participated in the survey. The results showed that 64% of the respondents reported an increase in sales or profits and that the support has helped the WSMEs hire more people. Across all of the respondents, 610 new employees were hired. The graph below shows the grant fund usage by participating banks as of 30 September 2022.