May 20, 2017 01:00 By VIENTIANE TIMES ASIA NEWS NETWORK VIENTIANE
LAO BUSINESSWOMEN have seen an increase in opportunities to expand their businesses this year as they continue to connect with foreign business partners, sector officials suggest.
Executive member of the Lao Businesswomen’s Association (LBWA) Vidaly Chanthaphasouk said that businesswomen have been more widely open to doing business with international partners, which makes it easier to get investment.
Businesswomen across the country have seen the chance to shake hands with foreign business partners from countries like Thailand and South Korea through connecting and networking, which has resulted in an increase in sales.
However, businesswomen have also said they now lack sufficient supporting policies, which will result in slower decision-making on investments.
The LBWA surveyed 300 businesswomen in 10 provinces in cooperation with the Mekong Business Initiative and support from the Australian government and the Asian Development Bank from July-August of last year.
The LBWA reported on its survey during a meeting on SME strategy development, concluding that even though the government had issued many policies supporting businesswomen, the environment still does not meet regional and international standards.
The Benchmark Tool for Women Entrepreneurship Policy, a pilot study conducted in Australia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam by the Mekong Business Initiative, reported last year that Laos was behind all the countries involved regarding the promotion of businesswomen.
The LBWA said businesswomen play a very important role in driving the social and economic development of Laos, of which 51 per cent of active businesswomen create over 200 million kip (Bt840,000) per year in revenue.
Businesswomen also run over 75 per cent of their operations on their own and appear to interact with their customers better than their male counterparts, according to another survey carried out last year in the production and service sectors.
This survey also showed that 63 per cent of businesswomen find it more difficult than male colleagues to access sources of finance while also receiving higher rates of interest from banks, which are still challenging women making the decision to start a business.