Opening remarks at the Launch of the Laos chapter of the Mekong Angel Investors Network

 
MS SOUPHAPHONE SOUANNAVONG (Nana):

Welcome to the launch of the Laos chapter of the Mekong Angel Investors Network, a program close to the hearts of all startups and Angel Investors in Vientiane. I would now like to invite the Prime Minister onto the stage to officially launch the network – please welcome.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Nana and it is great to be here at Naked Espresso, with – where is Pop? Oh there you are, good. This is a great example of an Australian trained barista who came back, who has come back to bring a touch of Australian coffee culture to Vientiane and of course it is a reminder too of the importance of the educational links between Laos and Australia. So many young people here, young entrepreneurs who have been educated in Australia, who have benefitted from scholarships to Australia and we will be talking a little more about them later in the morning. It is a very practical way in which our two countries become closer together and which we build up, we help build up working together, the vitally important human capital that is so essential to develop.

What I am launching here today is the Laos chapter of the Mekong Angel Investor Network and I want to compliment Nana and Pop and of course, Steve and all of the others that have been involved in this. We have Australians and Americans working together with local entrepreneurs, Asian Development Bank in all of the countries of the Mekong – Vietnam, Cambodia and today in Laos. This is critically important.

You see, we talked at the G20 about the critical significance of innovation and entrepreneurship and it is addressed at a national level by leaders of large industrialised economies, large developing economies and innovation is often seen through the prism of Silicon Valley, typically as something that is very much, if you like, a first world phenomenon. But here in Laos, here right throughout the world, the key to growth is entrepreneurship, investment, innovation. Innovation simply means doing something in a new way. It might be a minor change. It might be a development. It might be a tweak, just a tweak. Challenging the norm, doing something different. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a great technological breakthrough, the great new digital business that is going to be the next Google or Facebook. And so, changing the culture of business so that it is more innovative is as important for the development of Laos as it is important for the development of Australia or indeed with China or Vietnam.

I am really delighted to be here to launch the Mekong Angel Investor Network in Laos.