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Alms giving inspires vendor to raise income via sweet treats

Variously stuffed sticky rice boiled in banana leaf, the sweet and sticky Lao treat khaotom is increasingly proving a sustainable source of income for Ms Thongsouk and her five children as they live and thrive above the poverty line.
The popular favourite is made of coconut infused rice with banana and fillings with variants including khaotomphat, khaotommou, khaonomnaeb and khaonomthien.
Her business has been growing quickly thanks to her delicious wares.
Her customers include the increasing numbers of people who work at government and private offices, busy with their daily work

Sticky rice with ripe banana ready for wrapping.

without time to make it for themselves or their households.
Many also buy khaotom as an offering when giving alms at the beginning and the end of Buddhist lent and on other Buddhist feast days.
Today, khaotom has become a key income source for Ms Thongsouk and her five children who work on the task diligently to support their mother whenever they get the chance. 
The living standard of Ms Thongsouk’s family has been improved, but this happy story didn’t occur by chance.
It happened thanks to the patience, diligence and solidarity among family members over more than 10 years in the trade.    
Before making khaotom as a business, Ms Thongsouk made it solely for family members and use in alms-giving activities.
The taste of her khaotom was always warmly welcomed by family members and their friends.
She had the idea to make the product for sale in 2005 when she noticed by chance so many people buying khaotom for the giving of alms to monks.
She took her idea to her family and after consultation they agreed to start producing khaotom as a business in 2005.
Despite her low income, she began her business by buying main raw materials including 12 kg of sticky rice, banana leaves, pork, peas, onion, pepper, salt and sugar.
It was a pilot business so she bought a small quantity of raw materials initially. 
She and her children did this every day and sold the product at many markets in Vientiane attracting passersby and regular clients alike.
She also sold khaotom from her home in Sikhaythong village, Sikhottabong district to customers who could not get to market.
She tried her business for one year and found that making and selling khaotom brought good profits.
Since then the number of regular customers has also been on the rise.
She observes that the trade could become a primary source of income for her family.
Over time she has increased her volumes.
Today, she buys about 36 kg of sticky rice each day to produce khaotom.
If there are more customers’ orders, she will buy as much as 72-84 kg of sticky rice and more banana leaves, pork, peas, onion, salt and sugar.
She spends about one million-1.5 million kip each day to buy raw materials.
She earns about 700,000-one million kip of daily profit after expenses.
In addition to selling at home, some customers also make orders for parties on occasions of birthdays and weddings.
She has happily realised that selling khaotom has increased her family’s income gradually.
Their living standard is better than before running this business in 2005.
In future, she plans to teach the technique on how to make khaotom to children and grandchildren for maintaining their family income.
However, there are some challenges, especially competitors active in the same business.
“We have to produce in good quality of products to compete with other vendors,” Ms Thongsouk said. 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 17 , 2017 )

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