Fostering regional ties via YEN-D
Scheme helps young entrepreneurs to network.
Hatsavanh Haemany, chief executive of Shichida Child Academy in Laos, is eager to find Thai partners to invest in a 50-room hotel in Vang Vieng, a small popular town north of Vientiane, over in the next two years.
He is confident this ambitious investment plan would become viable through his participation in the Thailand-initiated Young Entrepreneur Network Development Programme (YEN-D).
"We are looking to partner with Thai businessmen who are good at design," says Mr Hatsavanh. "Once we make many connections here, I think it will become much easier."
Mr Hatsavanh owns and runs Shichida Child Academy, a Japanese school franchise that focuses on creating well-balanced children. He now runs two schools in Vientiane with 250 students, which he expects will reach 300 this year.
Mr Hatsavanh is developing a third school in the Lao capital, and looking for child products to sell at his schools, which he describes as in strong demand.
Mr Hatsavanh says the YEN-D programme has benefited him greatly. It introduced him to child product producers, teaching and learning material and equipment providers as well as producers of feeding bottles -- contacts that could supply his schools.
Launched in 2015 to encourage Thai entrepreneurs to invest abroad and gain a better understanding of the regional market and the trade and investment regulations of Thailand's neighbours, the YEN-D programme features not only familiarisation trips but also special training courses for young business people in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand to help them understand better each other's cultures and regulations.
To be selected for the scheme, Thai entrepreneurs have to be under the age of 45 and come from business families. Governments in other participating countries have similar criteria.
The participants take part in courses on business management at Thammasat University. Eight classes have already been held with around 560 young entrepreneurs.
This year the scheme aims to provide four classes to 240 young entrepreneurs, 120 Thais and the rest from neighbouring countries.
"Fostering a better relationship between young entrepreneurs in the five countries will create a new business potential for the region," said Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department.
The department held a business-matching event for young Thai and Lao entrepreneurs from YEN-D programme in Vientiane on May 5-6 and is scheduled to hold a similar event in Cambodia on May 27-28, and in Myanmar on June 8-9.
According to Mrs Duangporn, the YEN-D programme is expected to raise trade to 2 billion baht in value this year from more than 1.7 billion last year. The government aims to raise border trade to 1.8 trillion baht this year from 1.47 trillion in 2016, driven by the growing economies of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.