Women Expand Businesses in Vietnam With Loans and Phones

Speeches Shim

Ho Thi Thanh My sells sticky rice at a local market.
Ho Thi Thanh My sells sticky rice at a local market.
Learning how to attract and serve customers triples profits
“I had no idea what to do and how to do things differently to improve my income. I felt trapped.”

April 2017—Living in southern rural Vietnam, Ho Thi Thanh My dreamed of a way to make money for her family. She bought fruits and vegetables from local households and then sold them in markets. Though she worked hard, her inventory was dependent on the season and output of her suppliers. At times, she had nothing to sell. Most days she only earned $2-$3 per day.

“My business was difficult but I had no idea what to do and how to do things differently to improve my income. I felt trapped,” said My.

After joining a savings-led microfinance program for women supported by USAID's Mekong Vitality Expanded Alliance in September 2015, she went on to receive advanced business training, where she learned about consumer psychology, including how to attract and better serve customers.

Following the training, My switched from selling agricultural products to selling breakfast foods. She used what she learned to select a good place to sell food, ensure food safety and hygiene, and display her products in the best way. She now gets up early in the morning to cook sticky rice for sale in the market.

While her profits were small initially, with the support of her group members, My has built a large customer base, selling a large quantity of sticky rice every day. With a smartphone provided by the project, she also accessed business lessons and took a loan from her savings group to expand her business. She now includes stewed corn and Vietnamese pancakes for sale in the morning and different kinds of sticky rice at night.

With these new products, My’s income has increased threefold and has improved her family’s life. “I have frequent customers who are my group members, my neighbors and my relatives,” she says smiling. “They call me any time when they have parties, weddings, etc., asking me to cook sticky rice for them. They have helped me earn more money.”

Since 2014, the Mekong Vitality Expanded Alliance has partnered with the private sector to provide women entrepreneurs over $1.2 million in microfinance loans and access to smartphones to take business training courses. In 2016, 15 percent of loan beneficiaries started a new business and 54 percent expanded their existing business, 77 percent of whom use the USAID smartphone technology to support business operations.


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