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Gendered Impacts of MSME Policy Responses to COVID-19 in South East Asia (Vietnam)

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Gendered Impacts of MSME Policy Responses to COVID-19 in South East Asia (Vietnam)

Gendered Impacts of MSME Policy Responses to COVID-19 in South East Asia (Vietnam)

Gendered Impacts of MSME Policy Responses to COVID-19 in South East Asia uncovers the outcomes of micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) policy responses to the pandemic in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. It draws on fieldwork conducted from July 2021 to January 2022 in each of the three countries, analysing the varied experiences of in the MSME sector. It also examines how women and men have been consulted in policy design; the extent to which policy responses included gender analysis in design or application; factors influencing priorities in designing policy; the gender breakdown of beneficiaries of the policy support; the types of support measures which benefitted women the most; and the lessons or recommendations that could be drawn from these three country case studies. 

This country report focuses on men- and women-owned/led MSMEs and the COVID-19 policy responses in Vietnam. It aims to assess MSMEs policy responses in Vietnam and examines gender-based differences regarding the impact of the pandemic and MSMEs survival strategies. It also proposes practical and specific recommendations for policymakers and the donor community on ways to improve their policies and practices that strengthen gender responsiveness for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. 


  • The Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the number of months that firms opened and operated at full capacity by 36%. Most of the women-owned enterprises faced difficulties in business activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • Women SMEs are more likely than non-women SMEs to face challenges brought by ‘inadequate digital skills need in online business’, ‘tax payment’, and ‘disruption of production’.  
  • Compared with non-women SMEs, women SMEs also tend to face more difficulties with having a ‘reduction of opportunities to meet new clients’ and ‘accessing trade finance or supplier credit’. 
  • Strategies to cope with the pandemic include deferred firm investments, reduced firm expenses, cancelled contracts with suppliers, reduced employee wage/salary, laid off employees, utilized own fund/retained profits to maintain business, leveraged online selling. 
  • Nearly 30% of firms (both women SMEs and non-women SMEs) are engaged in online selling or e-commerce. 
  • Some female business leaders had difficulties in balancing work and taking care of their families and children. Women who are managers faced more challenges in balancing household care (housework, childcare) and work than men.  
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, around 14% of firms were consulted by the government about the responses to maintain business, and 2% of firms were consulted by other organizations about the firms’ needs. 


  • Executive Summary
  • 1 Introduction 
  • 2 Background  
  • 3 Data and Sample 
  • 4 Definition of women-owned/led MSME  
  • 5 Obstacles and Challenges Faced Due to the Pandemic 
  • 6 Business Survival Strategy during the Pandemic  
  • 7 Support from the Private and Government Sector  
  • 8 Policies Needed to Support Business  
  • 9 Views of Senior Management on Policies 
  • 10 Digitization Strategy since the Pandemic  
  • 11Findings from the Qualitative Study 
    • 11.1. Impacts of Covid-19 on enterprises 
    • 11.2. Coping with the Covid-19 pandemic 
    • 11.3. Policies for women-owned enterprises 
    • 11.4. Women-owned enterprises’ proposals to government agencies 
    • 11.5. Assessment of state agencies, associations  
  • 12 Conclusion 
  • References  
  • Appendix  

This report was originally published on the Monash University website. 

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