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Lao Startups Facing Challenges

Source: Vientiane Times

Lao startups are facing challenges in their efforts to help strengthen the national economy, including a lack of legislation that supports their set up and administration, with little incentive from the government.

Lack of a good definition of startups among the general public and the infrastructure required to support a startups ecosystem is still limited for example, in relation to the quality and cost of Internet usage in Laos.

This information was summarised as a priority issue during discussions on progress in public-private dialogue through the Lao Business Forum in recent months.

In contrast, it appears that neighbouring countries have shown great interest in and provided policy support for startups.

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The sumarise provided the example that, the Vietnamese government has announced plans to create a business enabling environment that is attractive to businesses with high potential growth, especially those that use new technology and intellectual property.

This can be seen in the “Vietnamese Prime Minister’s Instruction on the approval of policy support for the creation of startups enabling business environment and transforming the country into a startup nation by 2015”.

In addition, Thailand announced the “Thailand 4.0” policy to support and promote business innovation and new ideas using new technology, which includes several measures to promote startups including the National Startup Promotion Centre.

Since startups can bring potential benefits to a country’s development, the Lao government should play a central role in taking the initiative to provide a policy strategy and action plans to support the startup community.

The majority of startups use new ideas and innovation with a high risk of failure, but relatively high returns. Startups have the potential for economic growth.

For instance, job creation and new working styles add value to the economy, encourage new ideas and innovation and a variety of businesses and the use of new technology.

Business entrepreneurs proposed that the government should provide a clear definition of “startup”, agreeing on the following points:
To create public awareness of startups by providing a policy to support startup promotion, such as the Startup Nation in Vietnam, Thailand 4.0, and Startup India, Stand up India.

Such a policy should include specific measures to support and promote startups, including tax incentives, and a budget to promote the use of new technology and training, by involving private sector participation to collect feedback on the creation of a policy to support the startup community in Laos.

Incentives such as tax breaks, budgeting for activities to disseminate the results of new technology developments, and training, with the participation of the business sector in providing input into the formulation of such policies.

Establish and improve regulations and laws that can provide direct support to the starting a business procedure for startups, such as a regulatory framework to govern online businesses and e-commerce.

The Department of Technology and Innovation of the Ministry of Science and Technology has partnered with the Department of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to draft a Start-up Promotion Policy.