Bachelor of International Business, RMIT University
Australian trained Souphaphone Dangmany with practical skills in international business to become a Co-Founder and Business Partnership of STELLA. She graduated with Bachelor of International Business at RMIT University.
STELLA is a common space for Lao youth’s development. It provides soft-skill training, small grants called ‘returning home’ for community development, especially for Lao students from different provinces. What inspires me to establish STELLA are that I understand that Lao teenagers have their creative ideas, but it may be difficult for them to put those thoughts into practice. There is no common room for youths to showcase their talent and share their knowledge to others. While I was working in one of NGOs in Laos that supported youth learning, some of my co-workers asked if I could have my own organization to provide training/workshop about capacity building for Lao youths. When I contemplated these ideas with my friend Khouanfa Siriphone, one of Laos Australian alumni who also shared the same vision in strengthening Lao youth’ competencies. Then we decided to quit our current job and established this foundation STELLA in 2015 to bring positive impacts to Lao society as well as providing space for youth’s development/networking and their career development.
Despite positive responses from the public, we experienced challenges because STELLA is quite new. In the first year of setting up STELLA, my salary was 50% less than that of what I used to earn. However, with strong efforts, Khaunfa and I decided to keep running STELLA. Additionally, my family support played an important role to inspire me to pursue my professional goals.
I was raised to understand gender equality since I was a child, so that my prior comprehension towards women was that there were no serious gender issues. However, when I grow up, I recognize that there is a gender gap in society.
While working at STELLA, I had a chance to attend Women in Leadership Program supported by the Australian Government. It was an interesting program that results in mind-opening experience. I could say that it was beyond my expectations. This program not only broadened my knowledge in leadership and gender equality, but also enabled me to better understand myself as well as my goals in life. The most important thing gained from this program was that I could enhance networking and make new friends who came from different background. This was really a great opportunity for me as I even could get a job from them.