Closing meeting of Vietnam-Belgium credit project phase III and introduction of the Credit Support Fund

On the afternoon of December 19th, 2012, the closing meeting of the Vietnam-Belgium credit project carried out by the Vietnam Women’s Union in collaboration with the Belgian Development Cooperation Agency, was held in Hanoi.

The conference was attended by Mme. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, member of the Party Committee, President of the Vietnam Women's Union and Chairman of the Project Steering Committee, and Pierre Dulieu, Head of Belgian Development Cooperation Agency, in addition to numerous leaders of the VWU departments/ units, delegates of State Bank and the Office of the Government, as well as representatives from international organizations and media agencies.

After 15 years of development and through three stages of implementation, the Vietnam–Belgium Credit Project, o­ne of the major microfinance programs in Vietnam, has provided financial services to more than 52,000 poor women, and business development support services to 52,500 women across 17 provinces and cities. The repayment rate of the project over the past 13 years is 99.98%. With starting support from the Belgian Government at 27.6 billion VND, the project has used efficient turnaround, bringing the total in the last stage of the Project to 45 billion VND. The project established mechanisms to provide regular loans and assist women in completing the payment and starting savings, in addition to diversifying training o­n business skills and holding group activities to enhance knowledge.

In stage III, grasping the trend of the microfinance industry (MFI)’s development, the project changed from a direct lending strategy to the pilot indirect lending – the Credit Support Fund model. From the first loan that was disbursed in March 2010 until now, the pilot Credit Support Fund has given loans to 8 organizations, totaling $44.5 billion VND, reaching 16,000 poor women. Concurrently with the loans, the Fund has organized 7 training sessions and capacity building for 175 managers of 22 MFIs.

Speaking at the meeting, VWU President, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa shared that although the number of women who have benefited from the project (50,000) may not appear to be substantial, the project activities and results have been very significant. Establishing mechanisms to provide regular loans and assist women in repayment and starting savings, in addition to offering business skills training and holding group activities, the Project has helped with poverty reduction and capacity building for women in the community. Moreover, women’s union staffs have benefitted from the Project through knowledge enhancement, and as such, the quality of the women’s union in the project area has been improved. President Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa expressed her pleasure with the project results and acknowledged the efforts of the entire project staff, as well as support from the government of both countries. She especially appreciated that the project has introduced a new model in microfinance, the indirect loan model, to microfinance programs associated with technical support for organizations and the capacity building of micro-finance projects, to promote the development of the microfinance industry in Vietnam. She confirmed that the Vietnam-Belgium credit project closed after the third period, but that the achievements of the project will be maintained and developed by the Vietnam Women's Union, through starting the credit support fund to create a more professional, efficient, and attractive model.

On this occasion, the Vietnam Women’s Union presented medals “For the development of Vietnamese women” to the Head of the Belgian Development Cooperation Agency Pierre Dulieu, and the project senior advisor Vincent Wierda.