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Champassak weavers hit a snag in finding markets

 As he politely answered a customer’s question about the quality of the sinh woven by the Saphai Handicraft Weaving Group, which were on display at the That Luang festival in Vientiane, Mr Phoutsavanh said he hoped the fair would help promote products made by his group.
Mr Phoutsavanh, a member of the group from Saphai village in Xanasomboun district, Champassak province, said the group could make a wide range of items. But their greatest challenge was that members had no experience in distributing their products.
“The group, based in the south of Laos about 700km from the capital, does not have any knowledge of marketing, especially when it comes to selling our textiles in other provinces,” he said.
 “That’s why many of our sinh and other items cannot be sold. We sell only a small quantity each day,” he added.
 “For this reason, the income earned from weaving does not help us to improve our living conditions. The money we get is enough

Sinh made by the Saphai Weaving Handicraft Group on display at the That Luang festival earlier this month.

for our daily expenses but we still can’t think of saving for a better tomorrow.”
Weaving is proliferating around the country as the government is supporting the formation of groups to make products within the local community. Government schemes encourage women with experience in traditional weaving methods to make items for sale and earn extra money for their families.
However, these weaving groups are facing challenges in marketing their products. This is largely because some of them cannot engage business partners or agents to sell their products in other provinces.
In Champassak, customers can buy sinh from Mr Phoutsavanh’s group in Saphai village. Currently, the group has 100 members from Donkho, Saman, Saphai, Neua and Yong villages.
In the past, the women in this area only wove traditional items of clothing for their own use or to sell within their village. Mr Phoutsavanh saw the potential for earning an income from weaving sinh and asked his wife to persuade other women to form a group.
 “The establishment of the group five years ago made it easier for them to find markets for their sinh. It also made weaving a sustainable job,” he said.
Today, the group has a revolving fund of 800 million kip for weaving activities, including the purchase of raw materials like silk and cotton. Each member earns about 5 million kip a month. The cost of the sinh made by the group ranges from 150,000 kip to 800,000 kip depending on the design.
Mr Phoutsavanh believes the government should help the group with marketing so that the women weavers of Saphai can increase their incomes.
While exhibiting the group’s weavings at the One District, One Product zone during the That Luang festival in Vientiane earlier this month, he realised that the sinh were generating the greatest interest among customers. From October 28-31, he sold more than 30 million kip worth of sinh.
 “I would like to thank the authorities for helping our group to display our products during the festival. This was the first time we had exhibited them outside Champassak,” he said.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 18 , 2017 )

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