CONNECT | November 8, 2017

APEC 2017: CSR as a powerful tool for socially responsible start-up enterprises in Viet Nam

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Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 11th September 2017 — Approximately 300 Vietnamese and APEC delegates gathered at the APEC Start-up Forum hosted by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Ho Chi Minh City today. The event was held in conjunction with the Small and Medium Enterprise Ministerial Meeting and aimed to inspire entrepreneurship in APEC, stimulate innovative business start-up and enhance business ethics.

Madelon Willemsen, TRAFFIC’s Head of Office in Viet Nam, took part in a panel discussion on the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as part of the proceedings. CSR is increasingly important for businesses particularly in countries, which continue to observe strong economic growth, such as Viet Nam, as CSR has been identified as an important strategic resource which may be responsible for a company’s success. Businesses who integrate CSR into their practices and policies routinely attract more investors and customers, while lowering their reputational risk and ultimately increasing their profit margins.

Since 2014, TRAFFIC’s Viet Nam Office has developed a positive reputation in the country for its work with civil society organisations such as VCCI, and others, in providing tools and resources to civil society organisations and businesses to integrate CSR for wildlife protection into their business strategies and operations. Under TRAFFIC’s Chi brand, which refers to the “inner strength of will”, a highly respectable trait in Vietnamese society, TRAFFIC and partners have provided capacity building, toolkits, partnerships and information to the networks of its civil society organisations partners in regards to relevance and practical integration of CSR.

VCCI plays a critical role in spreading the business value towards a zero-tolerance of consumption of threatened wildlife amongst its partners. Under its leadership, approximately 11,000 workers and managers from the transport, logistics, e-commerce and business sectors have benefited from the Chi CSR toolkit and training and social networking events. Events have included Master Trainer workshops, capacity building workshops and creative events such as Chi bike rides.

“The demand for illegal wildlife products, such as rhino horn, continues to drive the criminal activities of poaching, trafficking, selling and buying and consuming. Through Chi, we show that strength comes from within a person and strength is demonstrated by their leadership adopting CSR practices for the good of the company, staff and the environment,” said Head of Traffic in Viet Nam, Ms Madelon Willemsen.

“Our research has shown that business men are consuming and gifting of rhino horn, and are engaging in illegal activity. Business leaders understand that engaging in illegal activities (such as consuming rhino horn or intentionally or even unintentionally transporting rhino horn), can be of great threat to their enterprise’s reputation. By taking a strong stance against such behaviour and adopting a zero tolerance for the consumption of illegal wildlife in CSR policies and company codes of conduct, businesses show a clear message to their investors, staff and customers that this practice is no longer acceptable”, continued Ms Willemsen.

“It is important for VCCI to show enterprises how to responsibly grow and manage businesses. CSR is one of the ways our partners and networks can do this. Business men and women should feel that they can challenge traditional beliefs that animal products are a sign of success. Success comes from hard work, forward planning and understanding business practices. As more of our businesses enter the international market, we want our businesses and Viet Nam to have a good reputation, this means that Vietnamese businesses cannot be linked to the illegal practices of poaching, transporting or consuming endangered wildlife“, said Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vice Director, SMEs Promotion Centre, VCCI.

The start-up forum also focussed on discussing the APEC business ecosystem, APEC start-up community development, business start-up in technology-applied and innovative agriculture, start-up education and training, and finance for start-up companies.

For further information, contact:
Ms. Trinh Nguyen, Senior Program Officer for TRAFFIC in Viet Nam
Email:   trinh.nguyen@traffic.org

Ms. Alisa Blee, Communications Officer for TRAFFIC in Viet Nam
Email:  alisa.blee@traffic.org
About TRAFFIC
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a strategic alliance of IUCN and WWF. www.traffic.org

About VCCI
Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is an organization that represents and protects legitimate benefits of business communities. VCCI has a network of branches, representing offices and members nationwide.