SMEs start feeling effects of virus outbreak

Some small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have started suffering from the effects of coronavirus outbreak, business owners say.

“It has already affected the country’s economy very much. Especially, hotels. As they have lost customers, they have no money to pay for their employees’ salaries. Restaurants and shops are facing difficulties also. Many SME businesses are now relying on delivery apps and messengers but this is not extensive enough to make up for lost walk-in customers. People don’t dare to go outside,” said U Min Banyar San, secretary of the Myanmar Ethnic Entrepreneurs Association (MEEA).

Ko Khine Zaw, founder of a company that makes the OBO brand of instant Mohinga, said sales of food has increased, recently.

“As my business is supplying food, there is no obvious impact but some SMEs are facing difficulties as their employees have returned to their hometowns,” said Ko Khine Zaw.

Currently, sales for small businesses involved in making cosmetics and cleansers have also seen a rise as many people are rushing to buy hand sanitiser,” said Ma Khin War, the owner of one such business.

“I originally planned to run a small garment business, but now I have to wait and see the situation due to the coronavirus outbreak. People will spend their money on food rather than clothing these days. As sales of clothing has declined already, it would be a bad time to start such a business,” said Ma Moh Moh, an entrepreneur in Mandalay.

Ko Naing Phyo Aung, the owner of Dream Walk, a shop specialising in women’s shoes, said he is seeing no sales currently and has had to suspend a plan to launch a new product.

“This disease has occurred during a time that would normally have been good for business. In some areas, people travelled until cases were found. Now, all travel has stopped totally,” said Ma Mon Mon, owner of the Shwe Lan Nyun tour agency.

She said only some larger travel agencies have been able to give refunds to their customers, but smaller agencies do not have the resources to do the same and have to suspend tours.

The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) announced on March 29 that it will help businesses affected by the virus outbreak via low-interest rate loans from a K100 billion fund set up by the government. The UMFCCI said applications for the loans will be accepted from now to April 9. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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