Myanmar: Overview & Impact

Launched
2012

Country Context

Population: 53.7 million (World Bank, 2014) 

Languages: Burmese (Official)

Monetary unit: The Kyat 

Main Exports: Natural gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice, clothing, jade and gems 

GNI per capita: US $1,270 (World Bank, 2014) 

ODA received: $3.9 billion (World Bank, 2013) 

Human Development Index ranking: 150 out of 187 (UN, 2014) 

Estimated GDP growth: 8.5% (World Bank, 2014)

A Land of Opportunity

Myanmar is one of Asia’s last untapped markets. With a population of 54 million, largely cut from consumption for decades, and world-class natural resources, the country shines as an attractive destination for business. 

The peaceful elections in 2015 have brought increased international attention to Myanmar. The easing of sanctions and the recent adoptions of new laws and regulations to improve the business environment, and facilitate investment in particular, have dramatically increased the volume and scope of international investment and aid entering the country.

Still, Myanmar remains one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. The peace process is in continuous progress since 2011, but a nationwide ceasefire remains elusive, with armed conflicts still happening in various locations.

Products & Services

3,074
689
$19.76M

Building Markets is uniquely positioned to accelerate Myanmar’s job growth and economic potential. For over three years and across three cities (Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine), the organization has developed deep market knowledge, an extensive network of local SMEs and partners, and designed tailored services that address barriers to SME growth in the region.

Bringing Visibility to Local Firms and Markets

Building Markets has collected nearly a million data points on over 3,000 Myanmar SMEs. This information is used to connect businesses to new opportunities and undertake market research through the following activities:

  • Verified online Myanmar Business Directory with over 3,000 listed businesses, in addition to job vacancy announcements, classifieds, upcoming events, and open tenders;
  • Leveraged the SME network to undertake research on the IT needs of local businesses for Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and HP at the US ICT Council;
  • Conducted in-depth market research on sectors with high potential for international investment;
  • With the International Growth Centre (IGC), conducted a survey on the woodworking sector that provides useful insights to connect exporters to foreign buyers.

Building Capacity

Building Markets has an in-house training facility, a network of external experts, and an HP-Life e-learning computer center in Myanmar. Regular training topics include sales and marketing, customer service, human resources management, procurement, and financial skills and literacy.

  • Trained over 680 SMEs and operated the Champion Program to provide small groups of SMEs with 2-3 months of intensive mentoring in specific fields;
  • Provided tailored training to suppliers of multi-national corporations in key areas, including anti-corruption practices, labor rights, environmental awareness, and health and safety protocols.
  • Organized regular information sessions on Corporate Social Responsibility and assist SMEs in joining the UN Global Compact.
  • Official host of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Myanmar in 2015 and 2016, organizing dozens of events across the country designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • Created the country’s first Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) to leverage GEW successes year-round.

Connecting SMEs to Supply Chains and Investment

Building Markets integrates local SMEs into supply chains and connects them to investment by making valuable information available to suppliers, buyers, and investors through the following activities: 

  • Disseminated over 4,250 tenders to interested SMEs through the online business directory, email, and SMS. This increases suppliers' access to opportunities, expands buyers' pool of applicants, and creates more transparency in contracting;
  • Sourced compliant and socially driven local contractors for multi-national corporations, including identifying SME and providing capacity support to selected firms to ensure their success;
  • Provided matchmaking services to connect NGOs to local suppliers, including Save the Children, IRC, Oxfam, Pact, Action Aid, WWF, UNOPS;
  • Organized regular networking functions and annual SME Forums, gathering hundreds of delegates from the private and public sector.

Donors and Partners