VIENTIANE • Born in a rustic village in Laos' Vientiane province, Ms Somsavath Khemsuliyajack is one of the most successful businesswomen to emerge from her homeland .
She is regarded as one of the most outstanding young entrepreneurs in Laos. She made her fortune in real estate in her home country and launched her SK Herbal brand of cosmetics in Myanmar.
One of seven daughters born into a family of farmers, she moved from her village to live with a relative in the city, where she focused on her education and graduated with a Diploma in Business from the Europe-Asia Business College.
She worked with a private company and in 2003, at the age of 23, made a name for herself as a property developer.
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That year, she started her own company, Lao-Foreign Consultant, and spent the next 14 years helping hundreds of investors navigate the Lao property market.
Three years ago, as Myanmar's economy opened up, she became the first Lao female entrepreneur to create a significant enterprise in the country.
Her SK Herbal range of cosmetics has become a recognised brand in Myanmar and its products are sold in more than 2,000 stores in the country.
To capitalise on her brand's rapidly growing momentum, she debuted her line of cosmetics in Laos early last year.
"When I first started to work in Myanmar, I had no reputation and few connections," she said.
"Now that SK Herbal is growing rapidly in size and reputation, more people and businesses are interested in working with us, which brings the opportunity to collaborate with better partners than ever."
She added that she wants to expand distribution throughout Asean by the end of next year.
"I feel quite optimistic that the Asean Economic Community will provide more and better opportunities for Lao people to significantly increase their business activities in the region."
Besides expanding her business in the region, she is currently working with people from Europe, Korea, China and Thailand, among other places.
THE VIENTIANE TIMES/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK