With its primarily agriculture-based economy, Laos remains among the least developed and poorest countries in Southeast Asia, and women make up an overwhelming majority (93%) of the labour force in agriculture. CESO will be building and establishing a new presence in Laos through partnerships that focus on supporting the most vulnerable populations, such as women, people with disabilities, ethnic minority groups and the rural poor. 

CESO’s interventions in this sector will involve building the capacity of farmers’ associations, helping farmers sell their harvest to the private sector, and training farmers in agribusiness skills (such as numeracy, market analysis, product development, market penetration and measurement tools). These efforts will help support the country’s overall economic growth while improving food security and reducing poverty.

Persons with disabilities, particularly women, are among the most marginalized in Laos. They are often less educated, face widespread discrimination and are less likely to be employed—while also more likely to be paid less for doing the same work done by others. These challenges are exacerbated by poor healthcare services and a lack of inclusive education and training.

CESO’s experiences in working with women and people with disabilities makes us a natural fit to drive change for these populations. In conjunction with our local partners, we will improve quality and access to mental health services, and we will deliver vocational training (in areas such as in marketing, finance, business development, management and leadership), in order to increase employment prospects and enhance economic empowerment for these individuals.