AVPN Global Conference 2023 | 20 - 22 June 2023


Advancing the Growth of Women-Led SMEs in Vietnam: A Gender Lens in Policy & Investment

By Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)


New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City


Vietnam and Online

Date & time

(GMT +7)

18 April 2022



18 April 2022


About this event

Register to join in-person.
Register to join online.

With the growing recognition of how women-led SMEs contribute to Vietnam’s economy, stakeholders across the sectors of policy and investment have been continuing their support throughout the COVID pandemic. As we look back on which solutions worked best and how to improve as we move forward, Investing in Women and AVPN will partner to host an event convening these stakeholders.

This event will launch the policy report supported by Investing in Women and conducted by Monash University in Australia and the Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN) in Vietnam. Coming up on a year into the crisis, the study will take stock of economic relief measures to foster SME resilience to Covid-19 and analyse the extent to which women have been involved as beneficiaries or in decision making; and the extent to which responses have met the needs of women’s SMEs. The research is intended to assist policymakers and donor agencies understand the best solutions for assisting women’s SMEs through the recovery response to Covid-19.

In addition, this event will showcase the best practices and collaborations of investors and development finance institutions in advancing women’s SMEs in Vietnam.

Join us to learn more about practical and specific recommendations to strengthen gender responsiveness for the SME sector, and to hear from the key stakeholders leading this work in Vietnam!

Guest-of-Honour giving Opening Remarks (virtual) by:
Ms. Robyn Mudie
Australia’s Ambassador,

Ms Mudie is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently the founding Executive Director of the Diplomatic Academy.

She has previously served overseas as Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives; Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva); First Secretary, UN Permanent Mission, New York; and Second Secretary, Hanoi. In Canberra Ms Mudie has served as Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy Branch; Assistant Secretary, Information Resources Branch; and Director, Strategic Policy Section.

Ms Mudie holds a Master of Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Hull; Bachelor of Arts (Honours), from the University of Adelaide; and a Graduate Diploma (Foreign Affairs and Trade) from the Australian National University. Ms Mudie is a Vietnamese speaker who has studied Vietnamese at the RAAF School of Languages (1992), the Foreign Languages School, Hanoi (1993) and the Diplomatic Academy (2019).

Ms Mudie is married with two sons.

Joining as Guest-of-Honour in-person:
Ms. Sarah Hooper

Ms Hooper is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and most recently led DFAT’s Western Australia State Office. She has served overseas in New Delhi and Jakarta and as an exchange officer in Brunei.

Ms Hooper holds an Executive Master of Public Administration from the University of Western Australia and a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) from the Australian National University.

Ms. Mary Tarnowka
Executive Director,
American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam

Mary Tarnowka joined AmCham Vietnam as Executive Director in August 2019. Under her leadership, AmCham Vietnam has been revitalized to achieve AmCham’s long-term mission to strengthen the U.S.-Vietnam trade and investment partnership and serve as the “voice of American business” in Vietnam. First established informally just after the trade embargo was lifted in 1994, AmCham Vietnam is one of the largest, most diverse, and inclusive foreign business associations in Vietnam. Its network of active committees and extensive range of events provide members opportunities for professional networking, business intelligence, advocacy, and business promotion. As one of the most strategic and influential business associations in Vietnam, AmCham drives innovation and sustainable growth and helps its members succeed.

Prior to joining AmCham, Mary served as the U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City. As a career diplomat and member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mary has decades of experience in Asia, including postings in Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai, and Taipei, as well as at the State Department’s China Desk and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Before joining the State Department, Mary worked as a CPA and Tax Manager at KPMG’s San Francisco Office. Mary also serves as a Director on the Board of VInaCapital GS Energy. She enjoys yoga, kayaking, gardening, and exploring the ever-changing, dynamic country of Vietnam. She has two daughters, one a high school student in HCMC, and the other, a young professional thriving in San Francisco.

Joining as Guest-of-Honour in-person:
Mr. Simon Fraser
Executive Director,
Australian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam

Simon Fraser is the current Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam and is located in Ho Chi Minh City , Vietnam. Simon has been living and working in Vietnam for 14 years in General and Operations Management across media, BPO, RPO and Recruitment industries. He has spent almost 18 years working across the Asia Pacific region and has a deep cultural understanding of living and doing business in one of the most populated regions on the globe.

Originally from Melbourne Australia, Simon was educated at University of Melbourne and holds a Degree in Business Management & Marketing. He commenced with AusCham Vietnam in May 2019 with a focus on sponsorship, memberships, engagement with local and Australian business by open dialogue and communication.

Mr. Michael Kokalari
Chief Economist,

Michael Kokalari, CFA serves as VinaCapital’s Chief Economist, where he is responsible for providing thought leadership and technical acumen on a wide range of global and local macroeconomic issues with a view towards maximizing the firm’s investment performance.

Mr Kokalari has worked in Vietnam for over 10 years, prior to which he was a derivatives trader in Tokyo & London where he ran multi-billion dollar trading books for JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse First Boston, Lehman Brothers, and Paribas. Mr Kokalari co-authored the CFA guide to Credit Derivatives, and co-authored “Risk Management: Foundations for a Changing Financial World”, with Nobel Prize winners Myron Scholes of Harvard University and William Sharpe of Stanford University.

Mr Kokalari holds Masters Degrees in Business, Engineering and Mathematics from Stanford University, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at the Harvard Business School.

Mr. Trung Xuan Hoang
Research Fellow,

Trung Xuan Hoang earned Phd in Economics from Deakin University, Australia in 2012. He specializes in applied economics, labor economics and health economics. Now, he works as a senior research fellow at Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences and a research fellow at Depocen in Vietnam.

He has published in leading-refereeing journals such as Journal of Development Economics, Health Economics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, World Development, European Review of Agricultural Economics.

Ms. Yen Do
Senior Investment Associate,
Beacon Fund

Yen has almost five years of experience in impact investing in Southeast Asia. She has been a key investment team member on numerous deals, working end-to-end from origination, to execution of the transaction, to portfolio management. She worked closely with Patamar’s Partners in leading one of the first gender lens investing funds in the region and in building the fund’s impact measurement and gender lens strategies. Prior to Beacon Fund and Patamar Capital, she had stints at a VC-backed fintech startup and in the investment banking sector. Yen started her career as an investment banking analyst at Vietnam’s top brokerage firm, Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation (HSC).

Yen has a strong passion for social impact which led to her involvement in a number of non-profit volunteering and mentorship programs. Yen graduated cum laude from North Central College, Illinois where she pursued a B.S. in Finance and B.A. in Global Studies.

Mr. Donald Lambert
Head of Private Sector Development Unit,
Resident Mission Vietnam, Asian Development Bank

Mr. Don Lambert is Head of Private Sector Development Unit in Viet Nam Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank. His current work focuses on promoting the role of the private sector in Viet Nam’s economic development. Previously at ADB, he worked on financial sector development in India and Sri Lanka, served as head of the corporate recovery unit, and was a credit risk management specialist covering ADB’s financial institutions portfolio.

Employment prior to ADB included with the US Federal Reserve and as a US Army officer. Mr. Lambert holds a master’s degree from Harvard University, a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, and is a CFA® charterholder.‎

Mr. Alex Downs
Business and Investment Officer,
The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (SNV)

Mr. Downs is the investment officer with the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, with SNV. The DFCD is a Euro 160 million development fund, focused on Climate Change adaptation.

Mr. Downs is responsible for Originating (sourcing and developing) investments across the AsiaPac region, with a strong focus on frontier and emerging markets.

Ms. Christina Ameln
Vietnam Advisor,

Christina Ameln believes in the power of connections to maximise sustainable impact.

Ameln is the Vietnam Advisor for AVPN and is also a Sustainability Strategist and Advisor at Purple IVY, a consultancy that helps companies to future-proof by integrating sustainability into their business models. She has over 20 years experience working with corporates; multilaterals and not-for-profit organizations across various markets.

Ameln has an MBA from Nottingham University and a BBA from the University of Kent at Canterbury. She recently completed an online course with Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership on Business & Climate Change: Towards Net Zero.

She sat on the Board of Advisory for LIN Center for Community Development from 2018-21, an AVPN member. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Global Girl Project working on leadership for girls in the Global South. And she writes regularly on sustainability on various platforms including www.SustainableVietnam.com; was profiled in July’s issue of Forbes Vietnam; and is author of the Aya & Bobby illustrated children’s books on travel and discovery.

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