On November 22, DID and the Cooperative Bank of Vietnam (Co-opBank) officially launched the implementation phase of the Strengthening the People's Credit Funds Network (STEP) project along with the People's Credit Funds (PCFs) of the North of Vietnam. Similar ceremonies will be held with PCFs of the Center and South regions on December 12 and 15, respectively. This ceremony followed the formal approval of the project by the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Phúc.
Over 150 people attended the ceremony, which took place in Hanoi. Speeches were given by representatives of Co-opBank, the State Bank of Vietnam and the ICD Corporation, the Embassy of Canada in Vietnam and DID.
The STEP project is funded by Global Affairs Canada and will extend to March 2021. Its goal is to increase financial access for Vietnamese men and women in rural and agricultural areas by a more integrated and better performing PCFs network and Co-opBank.
More specifically, the project aims to increase capacity of Co-opBank to supply support and oversight services to PCFs and to develop financial products and services that are adapted to the needs of rural and agricultural clienteles and that are provided by the PCFs in a profitable and secure manner. Capacity building activities will first involve 75 pilot PCFs in 14 provinces across Vietnam, in areas such as credit management, risk management, IT solutions, governance and products and services development. After this pilot phase, Co-opBank will be supported to deploy the strategies into the 1,177 PCFs. Strategic interventions will be gender-responsive and environmentally-sensitive.