Mekong River Weed Products

Published on June 20, 2014 um 16:42

Summary of your idea

River weed or rock algae grows in Mekong River that runs through Chinas Yunna province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Lao people, especially those from Luangprabang province, collect and process river weed into seasoned dried sheets which is called khai-paen for consumption and sale. Although khai-paen is very popular among local people and tourists due to its scrumptious flavour and good nutrition, it is still produced in a small-commercial scale by traditional production process that does have good food hygiene standards. As a result, the existing product from river weed is usually found in unattractive packaging and not widely available at markets in other provinces or overseas. Our business objectives are (1) to provide quality standard products that meet customer satisfaction and demands, (2) to ensure that our products are produced in compliance with good business practice and (3) to promote local delicacy and improve its competitiveness in regional and international market, particularly after the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. As we are determined to establish our business in a form of social enterprise, we believe that our business will be able to contribute significantly to sustainable development in economically, environmentally and socially responsible ways.

Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

It is expected that our business idea will have a wide range of positive social, environmental and economic impacts. Socially, our business can impact the quality of life by providing employment opportunity to the nearby locals. A large scale-commercial production will require our business to establish a manufacturing factory which can create jobs for local communities. This will help prevent local labor migration to neighbouring countries. Moreover, by giving priority to young and adult women for employment, our business ensures to strengthen their roles in society and narrow gender gap in line with the National Socio-Economic Development Plan. To be more concrete, women will play more important and active roles in earning income for the families. Environmentally, due to the fact that river weed only grows naturally in the flowing river, our business will cooperate closely with local authorities such as Water Resources and Environment Administration under Ministry of National Resources and Environment and The Agro-biodiversity Initiative under Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to provide environmental knowledge for local communities living along and nearby the river so that they would help preserve freshwater ecosystems by engaging in environmental preservation projects. Economically, establishing manufacturing factory will inevitably increase productivity and productions. Consequently, there will more products available in markets, which in turn will help generate income for all stakeholders. To understand the impact of our business and determine whether it is successful, business operation assessment will be conducted. Hence, we will need to identify some measures or indicators such as a number of female employees, percentage increase of their incomes, a number of households that involve in our environmental preservation projects, product quality and packaging, availability of our products at local and regional markets, sales and profits, supports from local authority, feedback from customers, etc.

Plans for implementation and sustainability

In order to achieve our business objectives, we would like to run our business in a large-commercial scale that meet food safety standards such as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). This large operation scale will enable us to lower cost per unit of output, which in turn lower product cost for our customers. River weed will be processed into a wide range of products such as non-seasoned and seasoned dried river weed sheets for cooking, toasted river weed snacks with different flavours, etc. that are suitable for health conscious customers and made available in environmental friendly and attractive packaging. Financing source for our business will be capital from interested investors and loans from the governments SME Fund through Lao Development Bank. In order to ensure sustainability, our business will seek to collaborate with local chain of convenience stores so that our products can be reached nation-wide. We will also seek close cooperation with local authorities including Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Promotion and Development Office (SMEPDO), Lao Womens Union, Provincial Tourism Authority and the Agro-biodiversity Initiative (TABI) to help promote our products in the regions, find labor or even provide feedback on our business operation.

Your profile

Vatthana Atanaphone is from Vientiane Capital, Laos. He obtained his Bachelor of Economics from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia under Australian Development Scholarships (ADS). Upon the completion of his study, Vatthana returned to his home country and started to work in the public sector for World Bank financed projects and later in the banking and financial sector. During the past years, Vatthana has participated in various cultural exchange and leadership programs, taking on different roles such as a participant, a group leader, a facilitator and a coordinator for environment and corporate social contributions discussion topics. In addition to this, he has truly tried to involve himself in a variety of volunteer activities. For instance, he led students in making donations of food and money for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise in cooperation with a local corporation. Currenlty, Vatthana is pursuing his MBA study in Japan under the Japanese Government (MEXT:Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology) Scholarship.

Stage of Idea

planning stage

Your idea has a positive impact on

environment, food security, poverty reduction, sustainable trade, empowerment of women, youth

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July 7, 2014 16:49

applaud an idea from Cambodia and Mekong region!

June 27, 2014 14:53

Sounds like a great idea for making use of an underutilized product. Wishing you success and prosperity!