- Magdalena Parkhurst
USAID/Laos Business Environment Activity Works to Empower Women
In honor of Women’s History Month, IBI is pleased to highlight one of the ways the IBI-implemented USAID/Laos Business Environment Activity is working to empower women and create sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Lao. This March, the Activity organized a two-day “Strengthening and Promoting Women’s Business” Seminar.
The goal of the seminar, which was put on in partnership with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), was to empower women entrepreneurs seeking to grow their small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Topics ranged from Gender Integration and Women[‘s] Challenges in Leading in the Modern Era to Opportunities for Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The seminar emphasized the importance of digitalizing business operations as a path to success during COVID-19 and discussed the various challenges small businesses and, in particular, women-owned SMEs, are facing.
One common challenge for women in the business sector is the smaller size of their business sector networks, when compared to men in the same field. The seminar gave the 150 attendees an opportunity to directly address this issue by networking and collaborating with other attendees, including businesswomen from across business sectors, members of the Lao government, educational institutions, and international donor agencies.
Lao has taken great steps to include women in the country's economic success and women-owned businesses are growing quickly. However, these women-owned businesses are still smaller and have lower sales compared with men-owned businesses. The USAID/Laos Business Environment Activity seeks to directly address these issues and empower women in business for sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Lao.
In the upcoming year, the Activity will continue its work to create a more gender inclusive business environment by focusing on growing the digital capacity of women-owned SMEs. This work is made possible, in part, by the outputs of this seminar, which will help the team to ensure that gender considerations are fully reflected in the design and implementation of future digital skill activities.
A video produced by the the LNCCI, showcasing the “Strengthening and Encouragement Women’s Business” event.