- Magdalena Parkhurst
Laos Business Environment Activity: Continued Excellence During COVID-19
IBI began work on the USAID/Laos Business Environment Activity in October 2019. A five-year project, the Laos Business Environment Activity seeks to improve the economic development of Laos through increasing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Currently, IBI is focusing on improving the competitiveness of targeted SMEs in the information and communication technology and eco-tourism sectors. These sectors represent important, under-tapped, high-potential markets in Laos. The focus on technology and domestic eco-tourism also reflects our current COVID-centric world and seeks to innovatively continue SME development. Working closely with the Government of Laos, IBI will enable SMEs to become more productive and capable of accessing domestic and international markets.
As the project continues, IBI will expand the selection of targeted sectors. A flexible approach will enable the project to include sectors that are increasingly significant for the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public/private collaboration will move to the forefront and support the GoL’s efforts to improve the business enabling environment. In addition, the project includes a Laos Business Ecosystem Grant Fund (LBEGF) which will support partnerships with a variety of market actors in the project’s two target provinces, Champasak and Vientiane.
As the project’s Chief of Party Melvin Spence noted, “The project’s launch in the midst of a global pandemic presents very complex implementation challenges; however, there are also unique opportunities to reconfigure project activities and develop innovative approaches to address the significant impact of COVID-19 on SMEs in Lao PDR.”