SWITCH-Asia networking event in Vietnam
Back to back with the conference on "Accessing Finance for Green Growth and Low Emission Development Strategies", on 14 March 2014 the SWITCH-Asia Network Facility organised the first networking event of the year in Hanoi on the topic of "Climate and Green Growth Finance for SMEs". The event brought together SWITCH-Asia projects from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines. Other participants included government representatives from Viet Nam, representatives of financial institutions and international funding agencies. The event provided opportunities for networking, discussion among projects about project implementation and sustainability, tangible project experiences and green financing examples.
The MEET-Bis Vietnam project, represented by Mr. Remco van Stappershoef, concluded successfully in 2013. The presentation gave an overview of how the project enabled green technology suppliers to improve their products and enlarge their markets in Viet Nam by building networks with business associations and other stakeholders. In terms of access to finance, the project explored the option of working with technology leasing companies, which could be a viable option also for other SWITCH-Asia projects. The experiences of the project will be replicated in the MEET-Bis Cambodia project, which just started in early 2014.
The SPIN project which was carried out in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos focused on capacity building for sustainable product development, project branding and marketing skill trainings for SMEs. Mr. Long Nguyen Hong presented how, as a result of the project implementation, more than half of all SMEs which apply the methodologies developed by the SPIN project are successful in expanding their markets in the three countries. Well received by the market and facing increasing interest from SMEs, the project will continue upon its completion in March 2014 by means of a recently set-up NGO. The Centre for Creativity and Sustainability will carry on the activities and business models developed by SPIN since 2010.
The SMART Cebu project was presented by Ms. Cora Conde from ADFIAP, and highlighted the successful experience of supporting local banks to provide financing for local SMEs. The project completed in 2013 and will carry over its successful experiences to the SMART Myanmar project which will work on sustainability in Myanmar's fast growing textile manufacturing sector.
The interactive discussions among participants shed light on a number of cross-cutting issues that influence successful project implementation and sustainability. One issue concerns the low market pull for sustainable products on the one hand, and strong price pressure on sustainable SMEs through unsustainable low-cost products on the other hand. Furthermore, the low level of trust of SMEs in business associations is a challenge for many projects reaching out to SMEs. Finally, lack of bankability of SMEs and low capacity to deal with loan applications were identified as major obstacles to access to green finance. SWITCH-Asia projects have developed various approaches to overcome these challenges, which were shared among project participants.
Additional thematic presentations were given by Mr. Nguyen Tuan Anh from Viet Nam's Ministry of Planning and Investment on the topic of SME finance programmes in Viet Nam. He outlined the development of Viet Nam's Green Growth strategy until 2020, which has a focus on SMEs and intends to set up a green SME support fund. Furthermore, green government procurement will become a major policy focus to promote the markets for green products.
Mr. Mikael Henzler from Adelphi Research introduced a recently completed study on climate finance in Viet Nam, which shows that the country is largely ready to access international climate finance. Mr. Octavio B. Peralta from ADFIAP introduced a number of regional climate and green growth finance programmes, which can be potential sources of finance for SMEs, including one's which have participated in SWITCH-Asia project activities. Dr. Michael Krakowski from GIZ Viet Nam provided an outlook on the ongoing macroeconomic reforms for green growth and finance in Viet Nam, which are expected to provide more support for sustainable SMEs.
The workshop was the first event in a thematic series that the Network Facility will organize in 2014. The topic of access to green finance will continue to be focus for the work of the SWITCH-Asia Network Facility throughout the year and beyond.
To view a photogallery of the event, click here.