Vientiane, March 14, 2013 --- Ten young entrepreneurs received seed grants of up to $5,000 and business mentorship support in a competition co-organized by the World Bank.
“We believe that investing in young people’s entrepreneurial skills and potential is smart economics,” said Keiko Miwa, Country Manager of the World Bank’s Vientiane Office.
“Half of the population is under 20-years-old. One of the World Bank’s goals is to support the government in building the youth’s capacities. We’d like to encourage young people, particularly young women, to harness their entrepreneurial ideas and engage successfully in small business activities that can provide income for their families, employment for their communities, and the economic growth of the country,” she said.
Meet the 10 winners of this year’s competition, 90% of whom are women. They come from Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Province, Luang Prabang, Champasak and Savannakhet:
Manufacturing sesame oil
Ms Kaesone Norsouvanh
Sesame oil can be used for many things, from cooking food to massage therapy. Kaesone was inspired to make sesame oil after it healed her mother’s paralysis. She now wants to expand this homegrown business idea through the entire country. “Family and friends have enjoyed our sesame oil in the past. By widening distribution, this business will generate more income for our family,” says Kaesone.
Traditional thatch roofs
Ms Alee Senethichack
Traditional Lao houses have thatch roofs. While there aren’t many producers of thatch roof tiles left, Alee noticed a growing demand. “My family was building our house and we made our own thatch roof tiles. We use a special technique to make it more environmental friendly and durable. Many people were interested and asked us to make their roofs,” says Alee. She aims to produce 1,000 pieces of thatch roof tiles per day with the seed money that she won and will expand her business in the future.
Making organic strawberries more available
Ms Vanhde Phengsathip and partner
Food can be more nutritious when it is organic. Vanhde plans to grow strawberries using herbal feticides instead of chemical pesticides. Her business will be located in Huay Thong located near Luang Prabang, a northern town with a cooler climate that’s ideal for farming strawberries. Her farm is not far from the local market and is near the area where vegetables and fruits are traded.
Selling recycled art
Ms Malavong Maniseng
Recycled Art is a year-old experiment which transforms office paper waste into three dimensional craft work that look like wood. Malavaong says that waste is one of the biggest problems in Laos’ growing economy and she wanted to do something about it. She hopes that her enterprise will inspire Lao families to generate income from making handicrafts out of recyclable materials and selling these as souvenir items.
Ms Manothip Siripaphanh
Handbags produced under Manothip’s NAREE brand are made from local textiles and have a modern, chic design. She says that her vision is to see her customers using more products that are made in Laos. “I want NAREE to add value to the textile industry and also promote Lao culture,” Manothip says. 10% of her revenues will go to a social fund to help disadvantaged women.