New territory This means that Cord Laos staff have work permits, enabling implementation of the development plans for the region. The signing ceremony was covered by local press (both Lao and English speaking) and marks significant progress in what is a complex time of change for the region. International trade, expansion of international investment and the opening of the country’s first stock exchange in 2012, are all positive indicators on the road to economic development. However, this is a time of huge transition for its people — and Cord’s immediate scope is the development of outreach workshops, ongoing coaching and advisory support. In this first year of work we will focus on two main headline activities. We will deliver an extensive coaching and advisory support programme through the Ministry of Home Affairs to raise the awareness of local organisations with the relevant district government staff and ministries. To complement this work we will work to strengthen the governance of local Lao organisations including running 6 workshops on both Fundraising and Financial Management, and work collaboratively with them to address issues of public concern. During this first year pilot with the Ministry of Home Affairs, we are looking forward to developing successful working relationships and are also still in talks with the Department of Agriculture, Extension and Cooperatives, with a view to supporting a wider group of organisations through ongoing coaching and peer-to-peer learning.