Trade and Investment Facilitation

With support from the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD), Mekong Institute (MI) has successfully conducted a one-week training titled “Commercial Banks’ Lessons on the Promotion of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)” from October 31 – November 4, 2016. The training aimed to share experiences and lessons learnt from commercial banks in supporting the SMEs and to provide knowledge and practical skills relevant for the SME development to the target stakeholders. Challenges and opportunities faced by SMEs, including an effective SME financing mechanism were also addressed at the training. 

A total of thirty participants attended the training of whom twenty participants came from Lao PDR and ten participants from Thailand. The participants were from the Department of Energy Business, Foreign Affairs Department, the Department of SME Promotion, the People’s Supreme Court, Bank of Lao PDR, Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL), Lao Development Bank, LAOVIET Bank, Savannakhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lao PDR, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), and the Debt Coordination Centre of Thailand. 

“The training will provide different topics pertinent to improved understanding of the managerial, operational, financial and external contexts that SMEs operate in an emerging economy and strengthened connections among the participants through mutual-learning and collaborative actions in SME promotion and development, eventually to boost the inclusive regional growth in alignment with the national scenarios. The participants are requested to share experiences and learning from each other. It’s important to complement each other with relevant knowledge and skills, which can be applied into the respective workplaces effectively” said Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, Executive Director of the Mekong Institute during the opening remarks. 

The participants gained knowledge and skills supported and facilitated by in-house resource persons and external experts covering three interrelated modules including: i. ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and SMEs’ Roles and Importance, and challenges and opportunities faced by SMEs, ii Commercial banks’ Support to Business Development and SME Lending Practices and iii. Banking services to SMEs and Productivity through technological innovation. 

Interface session with entrepreneurs and executives from the hospitality industry, the real estate sector, export businesses and banks/financial institution were also organized to share experiences on business successes, problems and emerging opportunities. A member of the discussion panel recommended that,“Providing related information on access to finance and business development, logistics and marketing services; forming and developing strengthening entrepreneur groups/business associations and enhancing business networking are the key elements to providing additional input in assessing loan applications by the banks, as they also strive for serving clients who offer the opportunities of long term business cooperation with the commercial banks.”

As part of the training, the participants prepared and developed sector-wise action plans to disseminate the knowledge and skills they gained during the training, which are to be transformed into concrete activities for a diverse SMEs and Bank’s officer beneficiaries. These activities in turn will facilitate the SMEs/banks/financial institutions in both Laos and Thailand toward an enhanced understanding of SMEs in the context of financial literacy, managing risks and liquidity and contribute to an improvement of the overall “CAMELS” rating system.

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