28. mai 2014

Supporting female entrepreneurs in Myanmar

Work by the Partnership for Change (PfC) organisation to train and advise businesswomen in Myanmar is being supported by Norway’s Kavli Trust.
An oppressed military dictatorship until a few years ago, this south Asian country has very few entrepreneurs – and that applies particularly for women. PfC wants to do something about that.
With offices in Norway, the USA, Myanmar and South Sudan, the organisation’s goal is to build a sustainable civil society and business community in countries making the transition to democracy.
“This programme helps Yangon’s intelligent, innovative and energetic female entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas,” says Barbara Bauer, who heads PfC in Myanmar. “We want it to become a model for the way businesswomen can be supported throughout the country.”

With backing from the Kavli Trust, PfC has begun training women who have a good idea which they want to develop into a commercial concept.
Through 16 workshops staged over six months, they are taught how to use computers, speak English, maintain customer relations, develop a business, market and manage.
“Women often lack female mentors or networks to provide support, unlike most male businessmen,” explains Allison Morris in the Project Hub Yangon centre where the courses take place.

Ma Hsu and Ma Thiri want to start a business to serve the growing flow of tourists to Myanmar. The programme will give them tips on how to find partners among the big tourist agencies, use social media for marketing and analyse potential customers.
Ma Thazin hopes to learn how she can develop sauces and ready-made spices for sale in an international market. She has built a cooking classroom and is researching different methods for packing spices and sauces.

The programme’s goal is for 10 women to establish a new business, and for seven of these to remain operational after five years. A competitive element is also included, in that one of the women will receive USD 5 000 in seed capital for her enterprise.
The project supported by the Kavli Trust has two components – one for newly established companies and the other for further development of existing female-led enterprises.
Established entrepreneurs will receive courses in English, marketing and strategy as well as advice from other experienced businesswomen. This part of the project has yet to kick off.
The Kavli Trust wants to support education which can provide young people with jobs, and its supporting vocational training in South Sudan, Benin, Gambia and Bangladesh as well as Myanmar.
Established in 1962 by Knut Kavli, the trust owns Norway’s Kavli food group and is charged with distributing the group’s profits in line with its founder’s wishes.
The trust made grants totalling NOK 28.3 million to humanitarian causes, cultural activities and research work in 2013.

Swe Swe wants to establish
the Thanakha Gardens Restaurant.
Ma Nang Phoo Pyi Mon aims
to start a translation business.


Ma Thazin is keen to begin
exporting local cuisine.
The programme has already attracted
great attention in Myanmar.