Progress for local entrepreneurs, but challenges still exist

Trust and relationship building between investors and entrepreneurs is really important to grow a start up or a business.

Daw Thiri Thant Mon, Myanmar representative for the UK’s development finance institution CDC Group said entrepreneurs should see investors as a partner.

“Try to ensure win-win situations, good partnerships will help not just finance, access to know-how, and technology, but people will help you along your journey,” said Daw Thiri Thant Mon.

“Entrepreneurs should rethink why investors do not invest in their business. Ideas and dreams of business success cannot go anywhere without capital and other technical assistance” she added.

Myanmar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem faces many challenges including access to finance, markets and expertise. The other factors include fulfilling human resource needs, and overcoming bureaucratic red tape said U Ye Htut Htake, managing director of Mya Ayer Group of Companies, the first producer of coconut oil and products in the country.

The Mya Ayer Group was a family business that became one that generates US$2 million yearly turnover business after receiving a US$1 million grant from the private sector development programme DaNa Facility and the UK’s Department for International Development.

Another factor that has to be overcome is education in the country.

“Education has to be greatly improved to raise a generation of smart consumers and entrepreneurs. Even my own father did not believe in the viability of coconuts as a business for 30 years,” he added.

Mya Ayer Group produces organic coconut product such as coconut vinegar, coconut sugar, coconut juice, jelly and others.

‘‘Basically you need to be passionate about what you do, more people will be interested in you and your business if you have a clear, strong business concept that has been built into a realistic business plan” U Ye Htut Htake added.

Myanmar also does not have a proper value chain because of a shallow manufacturing pool until now.

Take local supermarket chain City Mart Holdings. “When we started City Mart, it was difficult to find suitable local products with the right quality, packaging, presentation, and supply chain to put on our shelves. Initially we had to rely on imports,” said Daw Win Win Tint, CEO of City Mart Holdings.

“Now supply chain developed greatly compared with past. New Myanmar brands are coming into the market, and the reception from local consumers has changed so much,” she added.

City Mart is trying to serve every level of society and sees a need to shift from imported products to local goods.

Now, 50 pc of the supermarket chain’s sales come from local product compared with just 10 years ago, when Myanmar products accounted for less than 20 pc of City Mart’s sales, said Daw Win Win Tint.

She added that women entrepreneurs have extra hurdles to clear in Myanmar.

“As a female entrepreneur, you are being judged all the time whether you really have capability or not. It will take time to build confidence and to prove yourself. Female entrepreneurs will get challenged and have to be patient and work to improve themselves,” she added.

Source: Myanmar Times

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