Women’s entrepreneur centre to empower female business in Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Lao government anticipates the Women’s Entrepreneurial Centre (WEC) will enable the incubation of new business ideas and the empowerment and growth of existing businesses owned by female entrepreneurs.

The centre recently launched its office at Nongbone village in Xaysettha district, Vientiane in the presence of Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms Valy Vetsaphong, US Ambassador to Laos Ms Rena Bitter, World Education Country Director Ms Colette McInerney and government officials.

Speaking on behalf of the government sector and its development partners, Ms Valy Vetsaphong told Vientiane Times yesterday that WEC will particularly focus on the two main objectives of enhancing the strength of businesses owned by female entrepreneurs and incubating new start-ups.

“We look at the empowerment of existing businesses and supporting women who are keen to build new businesses but we are also still in the process of revising the plan to make sure the business concept logically responds to the fund provider’s concept,” she said.

Ms Valy, said the establishment of the WEC is under financial support from the US government through World Education.

When asked about what the challenges are for Lao businesswomen, she said there are a lot of obstacles because female entrepreneurs are not yet widely accepted by men.

“In fact, there are so many successful businesswomen in Laos and this centre will also help to boost the role of female business operators in society.”

In a bid to promote both existing business and new start-ups, they will be professionally trained in several topics such as micro and small business management, financial literacy, website design, and English language for business communication.

Most importantly, they will be able to seek ways to access finance from a range of financial service providers through the Lao Microfinance Association.

Under cooperation between the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Lao Businesswomen’s Association, LNCCI, and its development partners, the Centre will play a fundamental role in driving social transformation and economic development.

It is hoped this will be a platform for many women in Laos that lack access to capital, networks and skills training to be united.

Meanwhile, the government also believes this will create opportunities for business establishment, innovation and business sustainability.

The project aims to reach around 600 female entrepreneurs over a three-year period and is funded by the US Department of State, East Asia Pacific Bureau.

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