Ecorys project has positive impact on firms’ competitiveness in Lao PDR
Since May 2019, Ecorys has been implementing Pillar C (improving firm-level competitiveness) of the Lao PDR Competitiveness and Trade (LCT) Project.
The project is managed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, with support from the World Bank and a multi-donor trust fund including contributions from DFAT, USAID and Irish Aid.
Empowering local enterprises
Pillar C comprises the Business Assistance Facility (BAF II), which has been providing local private sector enterprises with:
- pro bono guidance and mentorship services to local enterprises
- matching grant funding support for bespoke technical assistance, provided by third party business development services (BDS) providers
To date, BAF II has provided guidance to well over 500 Lao firms of different sizes across a multitude of sectors – from handicrafts and manufacturing to ICT, food and beverage, hospitality and tourism, agribusiness and more – and disbursed over 350 grants. Evidence is emerging that BAF II has had a strong and positive impact on the wider LCT project as well as on individual firms that have been beneficiaries.
Measurable benefits and satisfaction
With under a year left of project implementation, an independent interim impact assessment conducted in August found that BAF II grants had a “statistically significant benefit to the client firms, increasing their sales growth about a quarter each year compared to their non BAF II peers”. The assessment also found BAF II supported firms to have been very satisfied with the services received, with 94% of firms reporting the quality of the general advice and guidance provided by the BAF II team as “high” and 96% of respondent firms saying that they would make use of the BAF II programme again if it were available.
BAF II has also successfully engaged and supported women-led enterprises. As of end-June 2023, 59.5% of the 2,084 advisory sessions provided by BAF II and 63% of the 456 approved matching grants have been to women-led firms, far exceeding the project target of 40%.
20 September 2023
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