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Catalyzing Social Enterprise In Yangon

NGOs discuss ethical procurement strategies and new approaches to add social value into contracts

On June 27th, staff from local civil society organizations (CSOs) met with staff from the British Council, Oxfam and Building Markets to discuss issues related to ethical local procurement strategies and best approaches for adding social value in a procurement strategy. In total, 19 participants engaged in the day-long, discussion focused training program.

Tristan Ace, from the British Council, gave a short talk on social enterprises and the potential for the expansion of this sector in Myanmar. In particular, Mr. Ace detailed the benefits of a procurement strategy that prioritizes ethical sourcing and social value. Ethical procurement practices ensure transparency and often specifically target social value. When sourcing from small and medium-sized enterprises, an ethical procurement strategy can embed socially responsible business practices during the nascent stages of a company’s growth.

We brought together 19 participants from local civil society organizations and international NGOs for the discussion and training

“Many CSOs and local NGOs are still at the early stage of a formalized procurement strategy and process,” said Emmanuel Maillard, Project Manager of Building Markets in Myanmar. “But, it’s never too early to focus on ethical and social impact, and to start building those values as a base for a locally-focused procurement strategy. It is about supporting local enterprises with purchasing priorities that are socially responsible. This benefits buyers, by optimizing their budget and giving them additional weight to raise funds. At the same time, this activity contributes to the development of a social business sector in Myanmar,” said Mr. Maillard.

Lin Thant Nyunt Hman, from Oxfam, gave a presentation focused on how Oxfam incorporates ethical procurement practices into their sourcing strategy. Local CSOs had the chance to learn recommended best practices that can be incorporated into their own respective procurement strategies.

Tea break during a day spent discussing social enterprises and ethical procurement strategy

Local organizations participating in the training exercise included Paung Ku, Better Life, Pann Dain Shin, KBC and Network Activity Group. Since Myanmar’s emergence as a more open and democratic society, CSOs have discovered significant freedom to grow and expand their operations. As budgets and activities grow, developing formal, ethical procurement strategies becomes ever more important for local organizations.

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