The business fraternity expects to meet new partners and customers at the various parties and receptions they attend, but most don't take these chance meetings seriously, except for members of the Young Entrepreneur Association.
The association, which operates under the umbrella of the Lao People's Revolutionary Youth Union, on Friday held its first reception at the Mercure hotel in Vientiane, aiming to create opportunities for young entrepreneurs to meet and socialise.
More than 200 young entrepreneurs from around the country attended the reception, where they met not only like-minded people interested in possible business cooperation, but also bankers.
“We invited bankers so we could discuss investment plans and loan arrangements,” association President Ms Valy Vetsaphong said in an interview with Vientiane Times at the reception.
She said difficulty in obtaining bank loans is a major barrier for young entrepreneurs in growing their business and she hoped the reception would enable would-be business leaders and bankers to discuss the issue.
Bankers could also use the occasion to learn about young entrepreneurs' business and investment plans, which was important information for bankers in approving investment capital for businesses, Ms Valy said.
According to the World Bank's Business Climate Assessment, loan accession is one of the issues that Laos needs to address to create a better business environment. Most of the loans issued go to major businesses and construction firms, not to SMEs, according to the survey.
Ms Valy said the reception gave business operators the chance to discuss their experiences with others and to build up a network of associates so they were in a stronger position to tackle growing competition.
She said businesses in Laos would face stronger competition when the country opens its markets to Asean exports in 2015, in line with the Asean Free Trade Area agreement.
The manager of a company involved in property rental and purchase, Mr Houmphan Salyalath, said he paid 300,000 kip to attend the reception. He considered the event very helpful as he was able to meet with other business operators with whom he could explore cooperation possibilities.
“The reception gave me the chance to meet up with people in other lines of work. This will make it easier for me to make contacts when I'm in need of their services, such as the installation of electricity or a connection to the water mains.”
Mr Houmphan said it was very important to set up networks in today's business climate in order to expand operations.