The Department of SME Promotion (DOSMEP) under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC), supported by the Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED) Project of the Lao – German Development Cooperation, ADB and World Bank, organized a Seminar on the International MSME Day and the Dissemination of the SME Development Plan 2016 – 2020 on 27 June 2018 in Vientiane.

The objectives of the workshop were to mark the celebration of the International MSME Day 2018 and to disseminate the policies of the Five-Year SME Development Plan 2016-2020 at the central level for their further actions in view of its implementation. More than 200 delegates, including senior leaders, from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, relevant line ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, development partners, the National Assembly, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of Laos (YEAL), business associations as well as companies participated in the event.

Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce, highlighted during her opening remark that MSMEs were a major force in terms of generating income and employment and in improving livelihood. MSMEs cover more than 90 percent of the world economy and generate more than 70 percent of the world employment. Therefore, the International MSME Day was marked and celebrated each year on 27 June to highlight the strong contribution of the MSMEs worldwide and the need to support MSMEs on the way to their success, she said.

Khemmani Pholsena proposed herself to the relevant line ministries to translate the relevant SME policies in coherence with their mandates into their respective prioritized action plans and to implement them to help Lao SMEs to continuously grow and penetrate the ASEAN and the international markets.

Christian Olk, Head of Development Cooperation at the German Embassy in Vientiane, stated that the German Development Cooperation was very proud to support the SME development in Laos. The German “Mittelstand” was proverbial in English language and a worldwide success model, he mentioned. Furthermore, he considered the SME Development Plan 2016 – 2020 an excellent tool to prioritize, coordinate and monitor efforts to strengthen the development of Lao SMEs. At the same time, the success of the SME Development Plan 2016 – 2020 depended on its effective implementation by all relevant public and private sector stakeholders.

The seminar covered five main parts. During its first part, the seminar introduced the seven policies with 43 measures of the SME Development Plan 2016-2020. The second part focused on its implementation at the provincial level. In preceding workshops held between January – March 2018, relevant provincial departments deliberated the development and implementation of Provincial SME Development Plans 2018-2020 in the Centre, North, and South of Laos.

The third part of the seminar focused on the implementation of the SME Development Plan by the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and the establishment of SME Services Centres at the provincial level. In the fourth part, delegates of relevant line ministries (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Sports) and the Bank of Laos presented their commitments in realizing the top five prioritized measures of the SME Development Plan in 2019.

The final part of the seminar was dedicated to Lao young entrepreneurs, as this year’s MSME Day commemorates the contributions of youth entrepreneurship with the slogan, “The Youth Dimension”. Young entrepreneurs representing Bizgital and Lao IT Development presented their best practices and shared their business experiences in the areas of innovation and adoption of technology by SMEs in Lao PDR. “Her Works” shared their experiences in quality enhancement in the ethnic handicraft business, whereas, representatives of Smart Math showcased their creative services and market development strategy in the smart education sector. Lao Specialty Products featured their market access approach in the coffee sector. Xayyaloun Steel Formworks and Shore Rental Service Shop reported their experiences with access to finance. Finally, MeAsia shared their innovative and new service delivery for SMEs.