Street Vending in the Greater Mekong Subregion

This is my abstract which has been accepted (and now awaits the full paper) for the forthcoming Handbook of Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries, which is going to be published by Routledge I think:

Street Vending in the Greater Mekong Subregion


One of the most visible and versatile means by which both women and men can pursue entrepreneurialism in the developing word is street vending. This is an occupation that can be seasonal in nature, flexible in working hours and communal in nature, although working conditions may be difficult or even exploitative. Street vendors can suffer from harassment from state officials and extortionists, as well as the casual indignities inflicted by customers and passers-by and the difficulties involved in working outdoors. Alternatively, some street vending operations are now sophisticated and profitable. Street vending brings cheap and fresh food to millions of workers to enable low cost export-oriented manufacturing to continue as well as making office work possible in otherwise expensive city centres. It also offers a means for farmers to obtain cash income and a reserve for workers unable to obtain work in the formal sector, as well as a means of linking the formal and informal sectors. This is particularly true for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMSR), which consists of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan province and Guanxi Zhuang autonomous zone of China. The GMSR has a number of countries entering or passing through the Factory Asia paradigm of production and fertile agricultural sectors mixed with continued poverty and heightening inequality. In this region, city streets offer an arena in which entrepreneurial individuals can achieve their goals, whether these relate to business success or just survival. This article draws upon studies conducted in all the GMSR countries to identify the various forms of street vending that are taking place, highlighting changes in market conditions and governmental responses to the practice. The scope for entrepreneurial activities is appraised and the contribution to the overall economies of the region considered. Finally, the streets in which vendors work represent the place where everyday politics occurs and this provides a different dimension to its practice.

Keywords: entrepreneurialism; everyday politics; Factory Asia; Greater Mekong Subregion; street vending;.

John Walsh, Shinawatra University

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Opportunities in Thailand

As the current inundation indicates, Thailand’s economy (which is now rated by the World Bank as being in the upper middle class bracket) remains dismayingly volatile to events in the external environment. There is the climate and its seemingly inevitable changes, as well as the financial crisis caused by greedy banksters and their crony politician pals, the kinds of problems and scandals that discourage tourism and so forth. The government, whenever it gets the chance to turn off (however briefly) from crisis mode, is urgently trying to come up with and implement ways of developing the domestic economy and reducing the reliance on the outside world – the Chinese government is also doing the same thing but from somewhat different starting conditions.

Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Thailand

At the time of writing, October 11th, 2011,most of central Thailand is flooded and Bangkok is threatened with the same fate over the next week, until the high-tide on the 15th, at least. As of yesterday, 261 people had been killed and more are expected. Then there is the economic cost: countless rai of paddy field rice have been ruined and numerous other agricultural areas inundated. Over the last couple of days, the levees in Ayutthaya were breached and the Rojana Industrial Estate is under up to 5 metres of water and more than 500 factories have had to stop work.

Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Opportunities in Cambodia

As Cambodia is entering into the factory age, there are clearly opportunities available in providing inputs for manufacturing, in addition to investing in factories themselves. At this early stage of economic development, there is a general lack of technical capacity and therefore a wide range of needs for training, management development, consultancy and research. To be successful in one of these fields, it is likely to need a local presence and a degree of local knowledge and awareness.

Some people will want to take management classes, and a resource for learning more is http://www.businessmanagementdegree.

Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Cambodia

It is going to take a long time for Cambodian society to recover from the depredations of decades of civil war, the Khmer Rouge rule, invasion and occupation and all the other troubles the suffering Khmer people have had to suffer. However, life does go on and, in recent years, Cambodia has entered into its own version of the Factory Age with workers being drawn into establishments manufacturing garments, primarily, with some other products also beginning to be made.

Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Opportunities in Laos

Currently and for the next decade or so, Laos is going to be a market which requires either a long-term perspective or the willingness to operate on a small scale. Neither of these factors would appear to be hugely compelling for an ambitious entrepreneur but, in the Mekong Region, the majority of businesses are organized and operated at the micro level. Operating at a small scale, in fact, can be an unavoidable but also reasonably attractive proposition for many people.

Online business programs are an option for those who want to learn more about business.

Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurship in the Mekong Region: Laos

Laos remains one of the poorest countries in Asia: it has been handicapped in the attempt to achieve economic development by the low density of population, the very difficult terrain (much of which is mountainous and forested) and by the land-locked nature of the country – it has become well-known that lack of access to a good seaport has become a serious negative effect for a country that wants to achieve development.

Read the full article here.