Once known as the sleepy capital of Laos, Vientiane is in the midst of transformation: the city is experiencing a boom in construction, real estate, and other industries—most notable, tourism and technology—and is set for hyper-growth in the coming months and years.
And for entrepreneurs looking to launch digital products/services in the lucrative Southeast Asian market, this city can’t be beat; here are 7 reason why Vientiane is ideal for launching a tech startup venture.
7. Relaxed policies for working/staying and re-entering the country.
Multiple-entry business visas (valid for 30 days) are easily obtainable with a sponsoring agency in Laos and can be extended by up to a year, allowing holders to enter/exit the country as many times as they wish.
6. A stable finance sector and significant investments from abroad.
The city of Vientiane has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, mostly spurred by foreign investments. The Lao Securities Exchange (LSX) opened in 2011 with two listed company stocks, in partnership with South Korea.
5. An rapidly increasing ASEAN economy still accessible to early movers.
According to the Asian Development Bank, the Laotian economy doubled in size since 2006; that said, its GDP is still under $12 billion—the smallest in the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Laos continues to offer up a wealth of opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs looking to dive into the ASEAN market.
4. Stronger business law enforcement and intellectual property protection by the government.
Recent developments have made the enforcement of copyright and business rights violations a more streamlined, clear-cut affair. Laos notified its accession to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks on December 7, 2015; this has been effective since March 7, 2016, so businesses benefit from international trademark registration after that date.
3. A strategic location in the heart of Southeast Asia.
Laos is a busy crossing point for land-based trade routes between its ASEAN neighbors—for example, Bangkok to Hanoi. This makes Vientiane one of the most important land-linked capitals in the region.
2. An e-commerce boom is sweeping the local market.
While online shopping may be routine to western consumers, it’s only just begun to take off in Laos—popular items such as clothes, handbags, and cosmetics are commonly sold via websites, Facebooks pages, and WhatsApp. In fact, according to Google and Temasek, the Southeast Asian internet economy is projected to surpass US$200 billion within a decade.
1. The emergence of a local tech startup ecosystem.
A local tech startup ecosystem has emerged—with leading players already making their presence known across the region. For example, the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Startup Accelerator Program—run by the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)—accepted three innovative tourism startups into its program earlier this year.
In short, Vientiane might just be the perfect locale for starting up—especially for firms looking to gain a foothold in the Southeast Asian market. For more tech innovation from Laos’ capital, check out these 7 Superb Startups from Vientiane You Need to Know About in 2017.