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Hard work, thriftiness - jewellery entrepreneur’s secrets of success

One of the country’s top jewellery shop owners, Mr Phouvong Phamisith, certainly believes in the merits of hard work and saving having often put in 15 hours a day to earn a living. 
Mr Phouvong’s long journey to success began in his birthplace of Pakxe district, Champassak province, before growing up in Xayaboury province where he began a goldsmith business.
After finishing primary school in Xayaboury, he went to a secondary school in Luang Prabang province before continuing his secondary education and university studies in Vientiane.
During his time at university, Mr Phouvong learned goldsmith skills from his brother while dreaming of becoming a gold shop owner and helped pay his way by teaching French, maths and physics.

Mr Phouvong Phamisith with his best SME award.

After graduation from the Vientiane Pedagogy University in 1982, he tried to establish himself as a goldsmith and open a jewellery shop but he failed realise his dream in Vientiane.
In 1983, following his disappointment, he decided to move back to Xayaboury where he got married in 1985 and started up as a goldsmith there.
“I worked very hard to save money to open a gold shop, meaning I had to work about 14-15 hours a day,” Mr Phouvong said.
In 1990, Vientiane’s Talad Sao (Morning Market) opened its doors and he opened a jewellery shop there. But his lack of investment capital and the unfamiliarity of his shop among local people meant that the business struggled.
However, he worked to overcome this problem for over three years and finally his shop became well known.
“In the meantime, the government announced a prohibition on traders selling ‘green’ gold products (low quality gold) so I decided to sell 100 percent pure gold products,” he said.
He was also very proactive and creative, producing many decorative gold designs causing his shop to become popular with customers.
In 1994-1995, Mr Phouvong studied goldsmithing in several overseas countries and introduced new technology to improve his production methods.
The improvements meant that his competitors began producing quality gold items during that time, he said proudly.
Mr Phouvong was chosen to be President of the Morning Market in 1998 and President of the Lao Gem and Jewellery Traders Association in 2005.
While chairing the Morning Market, he partnered with the association to write a curriculum and plan to build a vocational school for goldsmiths.
But the project wasn’t as successful as hoped because the subject didn’t appeal to students. Instead, they preferred to study IT, accountancy and English in the hope of becoming their own boss after graduation.
“After 20 years of hard work I opened the Phouvong Jewelry shop. If you have goal in life, you will be not tired in chasing your dream,” he said.
Following successful operations in the capital, he has expanded Phouvong Jewelry to outlets in Champassak and Xayaboury provinces, selling a plethora of designs made from gold, silver, diamonds and other precious gems.
“We place a priority on the quality of our products, believing that our customers are valuable and not to be exploited,” said Mr Phouvong.
“Phouvong Jewelry also believes in constant innovation in the rapidly changing and competitive jewellery industry,” he added.
These qualities were regionally recognised in September as the firm represented Laos at the Asean Business Awards (ABA) being awarded Most Promising Asean Enterprise Special Recognition for exhibiting great potential in becoming a business leader in the country.
Phouvong Jewelry was among 47 awardees and 68 finalists to receive a specially-crafted trophy from the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We were very happy to receive this honourable award from the ABA, presented by President Duterte,” Mr Phouvong said.
“We promised that we would continue to develop our organisation and staff after receiving this award,” he added.
The firm is a previous winner of the Asean Jewellery Design Competition 2015 and a winner at the Lao Business Awards in 2016.
In addition, Phouvong Jewelry was honoured at the Best Small Medium Enterprise Awards 2017, held on October 26 in Vientiane in recognition of its contribution to national socio-economic growth.
This year marks the 34th anniversary of Phouvong Jewelry and they plan to hold a lucky draw in December to repay customers for their loyalty with a big prize of 34 baht weight of gold.
Phouvong Jewelry annually runs a corporate social responsibility programme by funding the construction of schools and hospitals as well as providing assistance to poor people in rural areas and households who have been affected by natural disasters.
“Besides that, we are establishing other businesses such as apartments and the floral garden (Suan Pheuksa) in Dan Si village, Naxaithong district,” Mr Phouvong added.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 28, 2017 )

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