Micro-Businesses Dominate Laos’ Enterprises

Source: Vientiane Times

Laos, as a least developed country, is still largely dominated by microbusinesses, which account for 94.2 percent of all enterprises in the country, the results of the latest survey revealed on Tuesday show.

A total of 133,997 enterprises recorded their operations in 2019, an increase of 9,124 compared to 2013, according to the third economic census conducted by the Lao Statistics Bureau in 2019-2020.

The total figure comprised 126,168 microbusinesses, 6,600 small enterprises (4.9 percent), 954 medium enterprises (0.7 percent), and 276 large enterprises (0.2 percent), according to the survey.

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Larger numbers of all types of enterprise are to be found in the central region and cities. But there are fewer numbers of all types of business in the south and in rural areas where there is no road access. Most large enterprises are found in the major provinces of Luang Prabang, Khammuan, Savannakhet and Champassak, and the capital Vientiane.

The survey indicates that microbusinesses represent the smallest percentage in terms of access to finance from banks, even though they constitute the largest number of all types of enterprise.

Medium-sized enterprises were shown to have the most bank loans with 29.7 percent reporting a loan. This was followed by large and small enterprises accounting for 27 and 24.6 percent respectively. Access to loans by microbusiness represented just 8.7 percent of the total.

Wholesale and retail businesses make up the largest percentage of businesses registered in Laos, followed by car and motorbike repair shops with a combined figure of 61.2 percent. Processing plants account for 14.7 percent, while hospitality businesses constitute 10.6 percent.

According to the survey, these enterprises employ 490,373 workers, of whom females comprise 50.1 percent. Some 90.6 percent of all enterprises employ just 1-5 workers each.

The total registered capital of all enterprises was recorded at 649,000 billion kip. In 2018, these enterprises generated a combined income of 107,584 billion kip.

Head of the Lao Statistics Bureau, Mrs Phonesaly Souksavath, said she was confident that the survey would be useful and a good reference for policymakers, researchers, students and others during the course of their work.

The first economic census was conducted in 2006, the second in 2013, and the latest in 2019-2020.

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