Save The Children maintains what is probably the largest international humanitarian operation in Myanmar. We sat down with U Aung Kyaw Moe to ask a few questions about what they do and how they benefit from Building Markets’ services.
U Aung, why is local procurement important for Save The Children?
“We have nearly 1,000 local and international staff throughout Myanmar. We maintain 30 offices across many sectors. Our supplier needs are large. According to our policy, we prefer local procurement because we want to see the local market strengthened. We are also interested in decentralized procurement. We want to procure regionally and from local townships as much as possible and at a more local level than relying too much on one central hub. We want to see the local markets strengthened. We might source technological items from Yangon, but we know some construction materials we can source efficiently from local markets in the towns. Some items, such as medicines, we have to procure from abroad because Myanmar has too big a problem with fake medicines.”
How has Save The Children benefited from Building Markets services?
“Building Markets is really practical and suitable for our requirements. You specialize highly in local procurement and you know the local suppliers. We have used the business matchmaking services several times and found it very successful for us. We have relied on Building Markets to successfully identify medical equipment suppliers for some of our operations. Also, the monthly procurement experts breakfast is a really good thing. For a long time we wanted to have a place to gather and share knowledge about the INGO logistics and procurement sector, but before no one was able to organize such a meeting.”
What do you think about the Building Markets approach? How are we different from other INGOs?
“How Building Markets works is very interesting.You merge the non-profit world with the commercial and business side of things. Many are working to address humanitarian issues in Myanmar – WASH, education, etc. – but Building Markets works with businesses to grow and develop the local economy. This is important and it is something other INGOS are not focusing on.”
What do your local suppliers struggle with the most? How can they improve their chances of winning contracts from INGOs like Save The Children?
“Local suppliers in Myanmar are in the process of learning. They are learning how important quality and consistency are. For Save The Children, we must have supplies of an appropriately high quality with consistent and efficient delivery. Infrastructure problems, such as lack of electricity, can make operating a business in Myanmar more challenging, but quality and consistency are critical for us, no matter if the lights go off.”
Thank you, U Aung, for taking the time to speak with us.