Laos organic shampoo maker aims for domestic recognition

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Lao government is determined to promote small and medium-sized enterprises as well as push new business start-ups that are crucial for economic growth.

Thaan Fun Organic Garden, a group of local organic shampoo and dish-washing liquid producers from Pakngum district, Vientiane, displayed their environmentally-friendly products at a recent expo.

The group’s manager, Ms Phonesouphanh Diyangvay, told Vientiane Times while attending the Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo 2019 in Vientiane that the group was set up to create job opportunities for villagers in her community.

“Our group of over 20 families in Donsangphay village, Pakngum district, aims to work together to make organic shampoo and dishwashing liquid,” she said.

Ms Phonesouphanh is a postgraduate with a major in social and rural development. She said her field of education inspired her to think of ways to help rural people earn more and reduce the number of students who drop out of school to find work in Thailand.

The community-based production group was formed a few years ago. Their products were formally manufactured a year ago after US$5,000 was provided by a foreign investor.

“We prioritise sustainable development and the production of environmentally-friendly items. The bottles of shampoo and washing liquid are refillable and most of the raw materials are sourced from home-grown bergamot and a chemical-free processing method is used,” said Ms Phonesouphanh.

She said the next step is to get the products registered in line with government policy and to distribute them to provincial markets. She also wants to sell them to foreign expats living in Luang Prabang province to get their feedback and endorsement.

The Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo featured 54 exhibitors from Laos and the Mekong region who showcased their products, services and initiatives over the two-day event.

The exhibitors represented several categories relevant to the theme of the event: Eco-friendly hotel supplies, handicrafts, organic food, initiatives and projects, as well as responsible tours and accommodation.

They were able to introduce business owners to their environmentally-friendly cleaning products, toiletries and plastic-free packaging.

They also offered locally-made substitutes for imported food and beverages. Some booths focused on technology like wastewater treatment systems, solar energy and water conservation equipment.

Business operators learned how they could benefit by supporting and contributing to community development and social initiatives.

The second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo was organised by the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism with support from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Lao Association of Travel Agents, the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Small and Medium Enterprises Service Centre operated by the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Department of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (Ministry of Industry and Commerce), and the Regional Economic Integration of Laos into Asean – Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED) project implemented by the Lao-German Development Cooperation.