This year’s International Women’s Day celebrates both women and the concept of equality.

With the theme, #EachforEqual, it advocates that an equal world is an enabled world. This is especially true in the world of business, where women face a number of stereotypes and biases that may hamper their progress. As we celebrate women’s achievements each year, we also have a duty to recognize the hurdles they face, so that we can build the pathway to a more gender-balanced world.

This is why we invest in the Future of Business - a collaboration between Facebook, the World Bank, and the OECD to survey the millions of small businesses on Facebook around the world bi-annually. We share country-level data from this survey openly, providing policymakers, research institutions, and non-profits with an up-to-date, global view of online small businesses' challenges and expectations. This data was gathered in over 100 countries in late 2019 and focuses on issues that women in business face, including the reasons for starting their business, their access to credit, the size of their business, and whether they find social media helpful for their ventures.

In Vietnam the survey found that 34% percent of business leaders surveyed through Facebook were women with 9 percent saying they started their own business to avail of flexible working conditions, 30 percent said it was to pursue a passion or dream, and 33 percent wanted to be their own boss.These women also cite the important role that social media plays to their business, with 69% checking their Facebook Page weekly and 66% saying that social media is helpful to their venture.

However, women in business still face growth and financing challenges. Despite the fact that 43 percent have at least two years experience in their industry, our survey shows 64 percent of women leading businesses in Vietnam are leading firms with fewer than 10 employees, and that they operate smaller businesses than their male counterparts. Only 17% report having access to a loan or a line of credit.

At Facebook, we are committed to enabling an equal world by supporting women through initiatives that help address needs around coaching, mentorship, connectivity and community, which are all integral factors in helping women succeed at business.

We have programs such as #SheMeansBusiness, which enables women with opportunities to connect with each other and learn. Across the country, we have trained more than 10,105 small medium businesses across 55 provinces – 64 percent of whom are women entrepreneurs.

This year, we are also launching #TechbyHer, an initiative to provide more inclusive programming and support for women in tech across Asia Pacific. We are focused on supporting women by providing access to education and innovation, and help build a supportive community for them to interact and scale their businesses. Our programs include training and mentorship, opportunities to gain new skills, learn ways to build better products with our emerging technologies (Messenger, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality), and monetize on our platforms. We are also celebrating the successes and achievements of women innovators who are raising the bar all around the world.

Across our platforms, we have seen the positive impact that women have been able to create in their communities when they have a voice - from building businesses, to starting social movements, to empowering each other. We look forward to celebrating their success for years to come and contribute towards a more equal world.

Sandhya Devanathan, Head of Business for Vietnam