LAOS is now seeking ways to increase the number of businesswomen as part of the government’s effort to promote female entrepreneurship and offer opportunities for them to showcase and share achievements of women-owned businesses.

To this end, the SME Service Centre (SSC) under the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) last week kicked off a series of quarterly information and business networking events under the theme of “SSC Breakfast Talk”.

The networking events not only benefit aspiring female talents by providing access to successful female business leaders and role models but also offer a great opportunity for all Lao women entrepreneurs to exchange information about doing business, capacity building and business expansion.

The Breakfast Talk is a new SSC signature event, where members and non-members alike can come for a meet-and-greet in the morning while listening to industry experts share their outlook, recommendations, opinions, success and failure stories, as well as relevant updates on economic developments in Laos.

Events are designed in a panel discussion format to trigger a fruitful exchange of viewpoints between the moderator and selected panellists.

The first SSC Breakfast Talk took place in the month of International Women’s Day, and the SME Service Centre itself as a key business consultancy and business advisory centre also used the panel discussion as a platform to promote female entrepreneurship and celebrate key achievements of women-owned businesses.

The event was attended by LNCCI vice-president Valy Vetsaphong, who also addressed the session and talked about the important role of women in business and their contribution to the nation’s economic growth.

“In Laos, the business sector is a vital element for supporting women’s empowerment, as opportunities for their participation in the local economy have steadily increased over time,” she said.

Participants included representatives from various business sectors in Laos, ranging from IT to hoteliers who shared their experiences on successful operations and failures of entrepreneurship.

The Lao businesswomen’s community was invited to talk about their ideas and achievements, to reflect on their struggles and obstacles, and to share what they have learned by starting their own companies in a rather challenging business environment.

The integration of gender awareness into private sector development is essential for achieving pro-poor growth and long-term, socially equitable, sustainable development.

According to a recent report by the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognised sources, female employment rates are already comparatively high with over 70 per cent in 2017.

They were considered as an active part of the workforce, predominantly in agriculture, textile manufacturing as well as services sectors such as retail and tourism.

Additionally, the remainder either partially or fully own or run businesses nationwide.

The female business community plays a pivotal role in driving social transformation and economic development but many still lack access to capital, networks and skills training. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK