Empowering Lao PDR Women Entrepreneurs to Leverage Trademark Advantage

Khon Kaen, Thailand – Mekong Institute (MI), in collaboration with the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Regional Trade for Development (RT4D) Facility, Lao PDR, launched a program aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Lao PDR in trademark development. This initiative focuses on enhancing their competencies in areas such as packaging design and registration to bolster their competitiveness in both local and global markets.The program commenced with a 3-day inception workshop held at MI’s Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen, Thailand, from June 17-19, 2024. The workshop attracted 26 participants representing various industries including pepper, honey, herbs, oil palm, coconut, silk, cotton fabric, handicrafts, shampoo, wine, and natural water-weed, from 11 provinces of Lao PDR. Officials from the Department of Intellectual Property also participated in the event.

Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director of MI, opened the workshop, emphasizing the vital role of trade in regional development. He highlighted the growing significance of e-commerce and stressed the importance of enhancing product design, branding, marketing, and intellectual property to fortify the competitiveness of entrepreneurs in Lao PDR. “Embracing intellectual property rights (IPR) is crucial for creating value-added products that transcend local markets. Equipping entrepreneurs with knowledge in trademarks and branding will significantly drive economic growth for Lao PDR,” Mr. Suriyan remarked.

Ms. Sianong Phomkong, Country Manager of RT4D, elaborated that the workshop is part of the 2023-24 Economic Cooperation Work Plan under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) Implementation Support Program, managed by the RT4D Facility. Since 2023, the program has been dedicated to fostering trademark development among women-led enterprises to enhance their local market presence and facilitate entry into global markets. The workshop supports this goal by equipping participants with practical knowledge directly applicable to their business operations.

Mr. Xaysoomphet Norasingh, Director-General of the Department of Intellectual Property, explained how women entrepreneurship drives the country’s economic growth. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to promoting products under the ODOP (One District One Product) initiative and encouraging the use of IPR among MSMEs, particularly those led by women. “Enhancing cooperation among stakeholders, both nationally and internationally, has proven instrumental in supporting entrepreneurs in successfully commercializing their products,” Mr. Xaysoomphet added.

The workshop featured interactive sessions led by experts from Khon Kaen University Science Park, Thai-ASEAN SMEs Promotion Network Organization, and MI’s Trade and Investment Facilitation Department. Participants engaged in modules covering entrepreneurship, small business trademark development, product design, packaging, branding, marketing, trade event promotion, and market intelligence.

Participants visited prominent institutions, top-rated community enterprises, and SMEs in Khon Kaen, including the Central Laboratory for product analysis and the Industrial Promotion Center 5. The center provides advice and information services, technology design and development, business incubation, and industrial prototypes at the local level. It links operations with the Provincial Industrial Office. Participants also networked with members of the Thai SMEs Confederation, gaining insights into business development strategies, management practices, technology, and innovation within Thailand’s economy.

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