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Young businessman celebrates decade on air with Lao Star

Amid a strongly growing economy, the number of enterprises is on the rise in Laos, a land-locked country with a population of almost 7 million people.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth ranging from over 6 percent to 7 percent annually in recent years is one of the key factors in boosting the number of businesses along with domestic and foreign private investment.

Laos' GDP growth is considered one of the greatest in the As ia Pacific region, especially in the Association for the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and many Lao private-owned enterprises are key drivers of that steady growth.

Mr Sulaphet Keoviengkham is the man behind Lao Star TV.

Despite unavoidable business competition in the era of globalisation, Lao Star Television Company Limited is one of those local firms contesting changing technologies rather than its competitors.

The company's President & Founder Mr Sulaphet Keoviengkham told Vientiane Times recently that thanks to the Party and government's policy, the private sector was now playing a major role in the nation's economic development.

“The establishment of Lao Star TV, the country's first ever private TV station, is because the government considers private investors as key contributors to socio economic development,” he said.

Born with a talent and love of the media, Mr Sulaphet Keoviengkham, 45, a Vientiane Secondary School graduated in the 1990s has selected his own path to success.

His education didn't involve any art courses but the gifted chap was able to turns his talents video-cutting, graphic design and running his own music studio over the past years.

“That's my experience in the media sector and it gave me the confidence to build my own TV station,” he said.

The company formed in 2007 with investment capital of over US $3 million and Mr Sulaphet had to overcome many questions from his family members whether his company would outlive its first few months.

“At that time, a lot of questions were thrown at me again and again by my family and friends because they wanted to know what was I thinking,” he said with a wry smile.

But a decade later Mr Sulaphet said the early tough times were just like a dream now never imagining his company would celebrate its 10th anniversary today.

The now successful businessman promised not to rest on his laurels by improving TV programmes as well as adapting more new production techniques and technologies.

“Lao Star TV is already 10 years old and has come much further than some people expected. We have to keep moving as there will be more challenges in front of us,” he said.

However, Mr Sulaphet noted there were multiple ways of becoming successful in business in Laos with investing in hotels, restaurants and other parts of the service sector among popular options for entrepreneurs in the region.

“Choosing a different path is a super challenge and TV production has to deal with a lack of creative personnel and producers as Lao people have limited existing skills in the media sector,” he said.

“I accept that the television business is a tough challenge because the development of human resources is a crucial priority to ensure employees are well equipped with up-to-date techniques and new technology devices,” Mr Sulaphet noted.

Since its establishment, Lao Star TV has already gone through three major technological upgrades costing the company over US$1 million each time for new equipment and training or its staff.

“At the heart of TV are techniques. TV, as part of print and broadcast media like newspapers and radio has to keep improving all the time alongside with the development of society,” Mr Sulaphet explained.

Now he is a key person in the establishment of the Public Security television channel (PSTV) and an FM Radio station under the Ministry of Public Security.

“Besides the challenge of human resource development, many TV stations in Laos still lack skilled personnel who understand the importance of mass media and its creative content,” Mr Sulaphet said.

Mr Sulaphet success has been achieved with a hands approach as many of the station's creative programmes have been created and directed by him.

The Lao government is currently working on preparations for ‘Visit Laos Year 2018' and Lao Star TV will play a major part in promoting the nation's tourism attractions across the whole country.

“In tourism promotion, Laos has two big selling points; the natural tourist attractions and its fine traditions. We will try to promote our country's tourism and traditions through various TV programmes,” he explained.

In a bid to speed up Asean's economic progress, the development of human resources was a priority for his company to ensure the Lao business sector was progressing alongside its neighbouring Asean partners, according to Mr Sulaphet.

By Bounfaeng Phaymanivong
(Latest Update August 8, 2017)


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