Entrepreneurial Women in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

It has arrived: Southiseng, Nittana and John Walsh, “Entrepreneurial Women in Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” in Mehrangiz Najafizadeh and Linda L. Lindsey, eds., Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Gender Equality (Routledge, 2018), pp.248-56.

Abstract

Women have long occupied entrepreneurial niches in the Lao economy and have helped to bridge the divide between subsistence agriculture and market-based activities and institutions. Recent research indicates that more women are entering into the formal or semi-formal business sector as owners or operators of micro or small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). In addition to the usual problems relating to work-life balance and social pressures facing women in the labour market, Lao women also face problems of lack of support in terms of business services, lack of capital and business technique awareness. This paper investigates the situation facing Lao women in the workplace through a variety of case studies ranging from street vending, agriculture and manufacturing to services so as to develop a picture of a complex series of issues facing them. It is shown that women entering the labour market can have their familial and social relations significantly reconfigured and that survival and success require various interlinked strategies.

Keywords: entrepreneurs, labour markets, Lao PDR, social relations, women

Advertisements

SIU Journal of Management, Vol.8, No.1 (June, 2018)

Welcome to the Vol.8, No.1 (June, 2018) issue of the SIU Journal of Management.

CONTENTS

Volume 8, Number 1, June, 2018
Editor’s Introduction

SPECIAL ISSUE: FOOD INSECURITY IN LAO PDR, MYANMAR, THAILAND AND VIETNAM

1. Introduction to the Project – John Walsh
2. Food Insecurity in Lao PDR – Nittana Southiseng
3. Food Insecurity in Myanmar – Myat Thander Tin
4. Food Insecurity in Thailand – Petcharat Lovichakorntikul
5. Food Insecurity in Vietnam – Nancy Huyen Nguyen
6. Methodological Issues for the FAO’s Food Insecurity Experience Survey – Aimee Hampel

PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH ARTICLES

1 Relocation and Integration of Internally Displaced Children into Public Schools in Nigeria: Some Policy Issues – Subair S. Tayo and Aliyu M. Olasunkanmi
2. An Empirical Study on Organizational Justice and Turnover Intention in the Private Commercial Banks of Bangladesh – Popy Podder, Md. Sahidur Rahman and Shameema Ferdausy
3. Justice and Righteousness in Amos 5:21-27 and Its Implications for Nigerian Society – Oluwaseyi Nathaniel Shogunle

 

BOOK REVIEWS

1. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates – John Walsh
2. No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics by Naomi Klein – John Walsh
3. Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy by Jochen Wirtz and Christopher Lovelock – John Walsh
4. High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia by Will Doig – John Walsh (8.1.Doig)

CALL FOR PAPERS

AUTHOR’S GUIDELINES

ABOUT SHINAWATRA UNIVERSITY

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Entrepreneurial Women in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

My paper with Dr. Nittana:

Southiseng, Nittana and John Walsh, “Entrepreneurial Women in Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” in Mehrangiz Najafizadeh and Linda L. Lindsey, eds., Women of Asia: Globalization, Development and Gender Equality (Routledge, 2018).

Is now avalailable for pre-order via Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/toc/1138208787/ref=dp_toc?_encoding=UTF8&n=266239). Other book selling options are also available.

Abstract:

Women have long occupied entrepreneurial niches in the Lao economy and have helped to bridge the divide between subsistence agriculture and market-based activities and institutions. Recent research indicates that more women are entering into the formal or semi-formal business sector as owners or operators of micro or small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). In addition to the usual problems relating to work-life balance and social pressures facing women in the labour market, Lao women also face problems of lack of support in terms of business services, lack of capital and business technique awareness. This paper investigates the situation facing Lao women in the workplace through a variety of case studies ranging from street vending, agriculture and manufacturing to services so as to develop a picture of a complex series of issues facing them. It is shown that women entering the labour market can have their familial and social relations significantly reconfigured and that survival and success require various interlinked strategies.

Keywords: entrepreneurs, labour markets, Lao PDR, social relations, women

Cluster Formation for Lao SMEs in Three Sectors

erit

This research paper, by Nittana Southiseng, Santisouk Vilaychur and myself is available at the ERIT website here (ERIT is the Economic Research Institute for Industry and Trade and is part of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of the Lao PDR government).

Abstract:

A cluster is, simply defined, a supply chain in close geographical proximity. A supply chain is a series of activities that cause an upstream resource (i.e. raw materials) to move towards downstream consumers (i.e. retailers). Different parts of the supply chain add different levels of value to the process, usually in an inequitable manner so that some members benefit more than others. States wishing to promote rapid economic development (like Lao PDR) benefit from clusters because all sections of the value chain occur within their borders and so they can influence the distribution of benefits with a view to enacting long-term developmental goals. In Lao PDR, the agricultural sector remains of central importance and is likely to be so for the foreseeable future. When it comes to identifying potential clusters, therefore, then the agricultural sector should be the first one to be considered. Within agriculture, high value products should be sought because most production in the country is of commodity items which are marketed on cost basis alone. Such commodity trade is subject to sometimes rapid and intense price fluctuations in response to changes in demand and supply conditions. Added value can be found in processed goods, in goods for which there is special demand and goods for which a premium can be expected. This study adopts three of these sectors for study as potential clusters. Two of these are organic vegetables and organic rice, which are products already being grown in Lao PDR but which could be marketed more widely and more astutely to try to attract more of a premium price through better quality and consistency, as well as raising awareness among consumers of their benefits. The third potential cluster is white charcoal, which is known as bintochan in Japan, where it is valued for its properties in barbecuing. The purpose of this research project is to investigate these three sectors with a view to identifying whether they can offer genuine developmental opportunities for the country as a whole, as well as the communities, individuals and organizations involved in their production.

Promoting Cluster and Value Chain Development in Three Agricultural Sectors in Lao PDR

top-icls-5

I attended the 5th International Conference on Lao Studies held at the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University here in Bangkok. The conference went quite well – I was only able to attend the second day, although of course everybody was being careful about what they were saying. More information on the conference is available here.

I could not present my paper on special economic zones but I was able to present (with co-author Nittana Southiseng, who was not able to attend):

Promoting Cluster and Value Chain Development in Three Agricultural Sectors in Lao PDR

Abstract:

Research was conducted into three agricultural sectors in Lao PDR to determine the extent to which clusters of complementary activities had been forming and how value chains were performing. The sectors were organic rice, organic vegetables and white charcoal (bintochan). Organic agriculture is a potentially important area for Lao PDR, a low income country, since many farmers operate on a de facto organic basis anyway, although certification is not available domestically. In common with white charcoal, organic produce will mainly be intended for export, primarily to or through partners in Thailand since Lao PDR is a landlocked country and one at a disadvantage, therefore, concerning export prices. The three sectors studied are at a comparatively early stage of development and each has some significant production issues yet to overcome. Respondents within production groups continue to focus on personal relationships and group management issues, while also acknowledging lack of access to markets, skills and capital that are common to small businesses around the world. Government agencies lack resources and technical capacity necessary to help link production groups to markets on an advantageous basis and the limited nature of the domestic market means that few well-equipped entrepreneurs have been attracted to take a role. However, some small private networks have been created in the white charcoal sector to move the products to Japan and Korea, where they are greatly valued as fuel for barbecues in the restaurant industry. For vegetables and rice, it will be necessary to establish cross-border relationships with operators in neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and China, where there are large domestic markets, preferably on an equitable basis. It is not clear how this should best be approached from the perspective of public sector agencies, which tend to feature people who are suspicious of private sector organizations and of the potential for market relations to exert a form of neo-colonialism over what are considered to be national interests. Recommendations are made at various levels as to how networks can be established and existing ones strengthened. Adding new and more profitable stages to value chains, through issues such as packaging and branding, is also discussed.

Keywords: agriculture, clusters, Lao PDR, organic agriculture, value chains

Nittana Southiseng, SME Development Advisor, GIZ-RELATED project, Vientiane Lao PDR

John Walsh, Director, SIU Research Centre, Shinawatra University, Thailand

This research project was supported by a grant from the Economic Research Institute of Trade of the government of the Lao PDR.

Cluster Formation for Lao PDR SMEs in Three Sectors

This is the version of our report for ERIT that will appear in the Lao Trade Research Digest:

Cluster Formation for Lao PDR SMEs in Three Sectors

Abstract

Research was conducted into the current presence of and potential future benefit of clusters in three agricultural sectors in Lao PDR: organic rice; organic vegetables and white charcoal. Producers, business leaders, government officials and other relevant stakeholders were interviewed. It was found that these sectors offer potential for growth both domestically and internationally but that producers faced difficulties common to many small and medium-sized enterprises, including access to knowledge, markets, technology and capital. Most producers were more focused on the supply side of production and emphasized the need for harmonious group management and maintaining good relationships, while having less awareness of the needs of the demand side. There is a role for public and civil sector organizations to promote the distribution, marketing and market access elements of these sectors, in addition to enhancing technical competences and skills of local producers. There is also a need to develop market conditions within Lao PDR so that consumers have more opportunity to make purchasing decisions based on a range of product attributes in addition to price. Recommendations and implications are drawn from the research.

Nittana Southiseng, John Walsh and Santisouk Vilaychur

Some more details about the project are here.

Cluster Development in the Organic Rice Sector of Lao PDR

top-icls-5_0_0

The second paper I have at the 5th Lao Studies Conference is presented together with Dr. Nittana Southiseng.

Abstract:

A cluster is, simply defined, a supply chain in close geographical proximity. A supply chain is a series of activities that cause an upstream resource (i.e. raw materials) to move towards downstream consumers (i.e. retailers). Different parts of the supply chain add different levels of value to the process, usually in an inequitable manner so that some members benefit more than others. States wishing to promote rapid economic development (like Lao PDR) benefit from clusters because all sections of the value chain occur within their borders and so they can influence the distribution of benefits with a view to enacting long-term developmental goals. This paper reports on research conducted in cluster development of organic rice in Sangthong district, Vientiane capital of Lao PDR. The status of the development of Santhong organic rice is analysed, as well as its prospects for contributing to export growth. Problems identified include low levels of capital and technology, lack of capacity in technical issues and limited market development. Some recommendations are made to hope to improve the overall quality of cluster development and to derive lessons for other parts of the economy.

Keywords: clusters, Lao PDR, organic agriculture, organic rice.

The conference programme is now available online here.