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“Sharing weal and woe in the pandemic” was a three-hour programme featuring a series of stories about the journey of sowing hope and empowering people or disadvantaged community groups to overcome the damage of the pandemic, ignoring the profit problem to pursue more sustainable value in the future.
|Spreading positive energy with sustainable business activities|
Assessing the role of businesses in carrying out their mission for society, Phan Duc Hieu, standing member of the Economic Committee of the National Assembly said, “We share for the sake of the situation, and this sharing has become a motto and business philosophy. In the future, such actions will continue to become an indispensable requirement for us to coexist and develop together.”
While the pandemic brought an economic downturn and many problems arising in society, at the same time it also provided an opportunity for each individual to see his or her cohesion in the community, to understand that no-one can exist alone, and businesses cannot succeed when the community around them fails. Therefore, building a cohesive environment and sharing responsibility seems to have become a new mission, and a direction that shows its own values that many businesses are pursuing.
This was also the philosophy that INSEE Vietnam, a pioneer in green building materials, has been carrying out for years. General director Eamon Ginley shared, “Caring for each other at such times is not only a social obligation, but we also believe it strengthens our business relationships for the longer term.”
INSEE has maintained salaries and medical care for all employees and ensured that key contracting partners have also had income and medical needs attended to. The company has also provided many medical supplies such as test-kits, thermometers, masks, oxygen meters, and more to employees, business partners, customers, and the community in general.
Like INSEE, European investors and businesses in Vietnam have also worked tirelessly to carry out their community missions by supporting Vietnam to fight COVID-19 through activities like “Breathe Again Vietnam”, which saw a donation of more than $1.35 million.
Representing more than 120 businesses, chairman of the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Thue Quist Thomasen reaffirmed, “Although life is returning to normal, the fight against the pandemic has yet come to an end. We are committed to accompanying Vietnam further in this war and are ready to support businesses that want to return here to do business in the near future.”
In addition to the support of manufacturing enterprises from Europe, Vietnam’s fight against the pandemic was helped tremendously through the assistance of retail and consumer goods distributors such as AEON Vietnam, Nestlé Vietnam, and SABECO. The contributions of these enterprises are not only recognised by the community but also highly appreciated by state management agencies.
Le Viet Nga, deputy director of the Domestic Market Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, admitted that never before has state agencies and enterprises, regardless of their size or stature, had such deep companionship and connection.
“We will review and report to the leadership of the ministry to promptly reward businesses that make great contributions to maintaining the supply chain, protecting the workforce, and contributing to price stability during these stressful times,” she said.
Meanwhile, Home Credit is one of the pioneers in environmental, social, and governance standards in Vietnam’s consumer finance industry, and has focused on a number of support activities related to the pandemic.
During the period of social distancing, the company launched the Home Love programme, contributing nearly $44,000 to the country’s COVID-19 vaccine fund as well as supporting more than 30,000 meals and necessities for 10 field hospitals, quarantine zones, shelters for orphaned children, the elderly, and needy people. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, the company also granted 300 gifts to children and families in quarantine areas as well as frontline doctors.
Noting his appreciation of businesses that have created new value and added positive energy to the prolonged pandemic battle, editor-in-chief of Vietnam Investment Review Le Trong Minh said, “Hopefully these good values will be multiplied in many circumstances so that more people can share and help further.”
Bui Thu Thuy - Deputy director-general Agency for Enterprise Development Ministry of Planning and Investment
Burdens that enterprises were facing during the second and third quarters have already been removed thanks to the sharp increase of vaccinations across the country, especially in industrial zones. Resolution No.128/NQ-CP from October promulgating safe and flexible adaption and effective control over the pandemic has been highly appreciated by the business community, and enabled most groups to resume production and manufacturing.
Moreover, Resolution No.105/NQ-CP in September on supporting enterprises, cooperatives, and business households has saved a lot of money for them during production and provided them with subsidies and cash flow relief, as well as simplified administrative procedures. This includes a centralised digital platform for pandemic prevention, free circulation of essential goods and materials, reduction in taxes and land rents, digital signatures for documents, safe customs processes, and reduction of contributions to the social insurance fund.
The ministry has been supporting enterprises in digital transformation. Some larger enterprises have agreed that digitalisation has saved them during the pandemic, and we have just launched a new project to support social impact businesses.
Le Viet Nga - Deputy director Domestic Markets Department Ministry of Industry and Trade
Along with the global economic rebound and our achievements in 2020, Vietnam’s macroeconomy remained steadfast and began to prosper in early 2021.
The ministry (MoIT) in tandem with other ministries, sectors, and local governments has presented and carried out a string of measures to remove obstacles in goods distribution for businesses and ensure a continuous supply for locals.
During the process, the MoIT has received active support from businesses and is now proposing that the government rewards firms, like AEON and VNPost, who have actively participated in ensuring continuous goods supply to people in the context that traditional wet markets constantly faced closures due to the pandemic impact.
As the market is continually unfolding, distribution channels play a crucial role in reaching the marketing targets of businesses.
A production firm creates value for its products and services, but other benefits like time and location are attached to these distribution channels. Hence, policies on supporting them have always grabbed the government’s attention and been enshrined by the MoIT in key plans and programmes.
Nguyen Hai Minh - Vice chairman European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam
The pandemic has delivered the most heinous consequences and put unprecedented pressure on medical facilities and and staff. Accompanying Vietnam during this challenging time, EuroCham launched the programme ‘Breathe Again Vietnam’ in August, aiming to call for donations from European investors and businesses in this country and throughout the EU.
The funds generated will be utilised to acquire critical medical equipment to aid hospitals and frontline medical personnel. The campaign has raised more than $761,000 and handed over many pieces of medical equipment worth a total of over $511,000 to hospitals nationwide. EuroCham members have contributed more than $1.36 million to assist Vietnam in combating the pandemic.
According to our business climate index survey, a sizable proportion of alliance members stated that they aimed to continue or even raise the investment amount in Vietnam this quarter. This is feasible since government has sent more hopeful signals, resulting in the growth of the business confidence index.
In the short term, we believe that several issues have been resolved, particularly those pertaining to standardisation. However, Vietnam’s foreign benchmarking policy should be simplified to make it more convenient.
Vu Dinh Anh - Economic expert Price Market Research Institute
The authorities are making efforts to support the business community to overcome difficulties. Notably, a lot of bailouts were promulgated on time and other supporting policies approached almost all business difficulties. At the same time, we see businesses’ efforts to share woes with the government.
The hardship caused by the pandemic has yet to have a precedent. There were two large economic crises for enterprises in the previous two decades. However, at the time, businesses were only concerned with finance. This time, they face comprehensive chaos, including lack of capital and supply chain disruption. The biggest difficulty is the lack of a labour force, which is the key factor to ensuring stable operation, and simultaneously the country’s biggest advantage.
However, in the pandemic, we can see that enterprises’ weal and woe share is the strongest ever. Notably, businesses have supported each other to immigrate damage. They led in fulfilling the vaccine fund and contributed a large volume of money for medical equipment, at the same time accompanying the government in the search for vaccine sources.
Le Quoc Anh - Deputy general director Vietnam Post
Historical foundation and development have created common values for Vietnam Post to successfully perform its mission to accompany the government to serve people, develop the country, and spread the best values to society.
Based on our advantages like supply chains and multi-services such as post, logistics, finance, insurance, and public administration, Vietnam Post has contributed to maintaining thorough goods circulation during the pandemic and social distancing in recent months. At the peak of the disruption, about 1,000 employees of the company in all bureaus across the country were infected by the coronavirus, and tens of thousands of people were involved.
However, Vietnam Post is still one of the very few postal businesses that can maintain the operation of the supply chain and transport goods, documents, and essential supplies, while others cannot.
Around 3,400 mobile points of sale have been developed to deliver essential goods to people in the areas of pandemic outbreaks, delivered almost 1,000 tonnes of rice to difficult locations. Vietnam Post also contributed about 10,000 computers and laptops to a government programme for students.
Khuat Quang Hung - Head, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Nestlé Vietnam
Nestlé Vietnam is proud to aid society to overcome the current tough time, with the total financing for pandemic prevention standing at $2.86 million. In March 2020, we developed a strategy that aims to ensure employee safety and health, business and production continuity, and provide support for the government and our stakeholders.
We seek to maintain employee welfare in times of hardship, with no layoffs and promoting perks for our frontline staff. Along with providing health advice and safety practices, we organise virtual training sessions on mental exercises for our employees. We also maintain internal communication activities via online meetings to keep our staff informed about the company’s operational progress and honour outstanding individuals.
To ensure business and production continuity, we established an internal pandemic prevention and safety committee comprised of department representatives that meets daily to review pandemic-related information in cities where Nestlé Vietnam has manufacturing and operating activities.
We also created a campaign to assist small businesses during the pandemic in 2020, while focusing our support this year on frontline staff, nurses, and the armed forces.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue - Manager, Strategic Human Resources AEON Vietnam
Sustainable values are not only the guidelines that AEON Vietnam pursues, but these values also play an important role in adapting and recovering from the crisis.
We often get asked how to do business sustainably during the pandemic. Admittedly, all that AEON Vietnam has done in the past is not a temporary job but is our business motto. However, at each stage, AEON Vietnam will offer different solutions in line with its orientation. AEON has carried out many activities to support the community, such as contributing to the national vaccine fund, supporting vaccination sites, and donating support packages to disadvantaged and vulnerable people.
Identifying people as the most valuable and sustainable asset, AEON Vietnam has been trying to ensure jobs and income for nearly 4000 employees for nearly two years. What makes us most proud is that the staff is always ready to contribute to the community. All the initiatives that AEON launched during the pandemic, such as the mobile vending car model, were then replicated in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and are initiatives coming directly from AEON Vietnam employees. Wherever AEON is present, we will continue to strive to fulfil our retail mission and act as a corporate citizen.
Eamon Ginley-General director INSEE Vietnam
Care and communication are certainly two of the practical activities we have been focusing on. INSEE has had to implement a lot of changes to how we operate to ensure the goals of pandemic control and business development. The most important factor of that is caring for our people, partners, and customers.
We ensure that people’s basic living conditions can continue to be met in times of such extreme uncertainty. This includes daily meetings to understand the rapidly-changing situation with the pandemic in Vietnam and the impact on our people and business, but also ensuring we remain connected to our people and partners through webinars to help convey detailed medical information, share business recovery ideas, and ensure people maintain a sense of connection, wellbeing, and balance through such a difficult time.
Our employees and contractors continue to keep our production facilities operating while observing strict 5K compliance, and are very inspirational in doing so. I believe we played our role to ensure care for them and for our business partners, customers, and community through doing what we could to alleviate their immediate health issues and concerns.