- Magdalena Parkhurst
The Laos Business Environment Activity Supports Digital Solutions for SMEs
The IBI team implementing the USAID-funded Laos Business Environment Activity continued its work to support digital opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Lao by convening a workshop on the Challenges and Digital Solutions for Lao PDR SMEs in the COVID-19 Era on October 28, 2020. The objective of the workshop was to increase awareness in Lao about the important opportunities that digital transformation offers SMEs in the current global economic environment – especially in the context of COVID-19. The workshop included discussion of digital tools tailored to the needs of SMEs, from financial payment solutions to social media marketing and e-commerce platforms.
The workshop was an opportunity for the IBI team and Government of Lao (GOL) and private sector partners to exchange information on GOL interventions to support SMEs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, practical digital tools, and success stories from SMEs in the region who have used digital solutions to successfully grow their businesses during COVID-19.
Attendees included representatives from USAID, GOL ministries, private sector organizations such as the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and donor partners including the World Bank, GIZ and the Asian Development Bank.
"COVID-19 is having a transformative effect on how businesses around the world– particularly SMEs – conduct their operations,” said Mr. Michael Ronning, USAID Country Representative to Laos. “In the post-COVID-19 era, being a fully-digitally enabled SME will be an essential prerequisite for continued growth and competitiveness.”
Through the Laos Business Environment Activity, IBI continues its work to respond, quickly and creatively, to COVID-era issues that are affecting SME development. IBI believes the Laos Business Activity’s strategy of focusing on digital opportunities for SMEs, learning from early successes, and working closely with local partners will support SME growth in Lao even during these difficult times.