Myanmar’s Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), launched by Building Markets in 2016, is a nation-wide platform that builds on the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) by connecting entrepreneurs to initiatives and resources, year round. The global Network includes 160 member countries, 20,000 partners and 10 million people. In Myanmar, opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups are continually increasing as the country’s economy expands and faces new, global markets. However, many people lack the resources that allow them to take advantage of these opportunities. By creating a year round initiative to supply aspiring and established entrepreneurs with these resources, GEN is able to:
This past March, Building Markets leveraged its partners and donors to sponsor a Myanmar delegation to attend the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nine people, including three Building Markets staff and six entrepreneurs, attended the three-day global meeting. On the final day of the meeting, Myanmar was awarded with one of the top honors, GEN Country of the Year. Myanmar was recognized specifically for its efforts to support all elements of the entrepreneurship system in the country during the year 2016. Other countries in the running for this award included Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Vietnam, and Moldova. While Building Markets has hosted GEW in Myanmar since 2015, this was the first year ever for the Myanmar GEN and the first year that the country was able to send a delegation to GEC.
The 2017 Congress brought together 8,400 delegates from 173 countries for presentations, workshops, matchmaking, and awards ceremonies related to Global Entrepreneurship Week and Global Entrepreneurship Networks in 2016. Delegates learned about digital disruption, agri-entrepreneurship, starting up and scaling up, investments, and much more.
To build on the experience, the delegation turned the trip to GEC into a Study Tour of African startups, meeting with businesses throughout Johannesburg, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya to learn about the skills, infrastructure, and networks that have made them successful. Delegates enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours and 1-on-1 meetings with founders and company executives and worked side-by-side with local entrepreneurs in co-working spaces and at community events. Prior to the Study Tour, delegates mapped the startup ecosystems in Yangon, Johannesburg, and Nairobi, and identified entrepreneurs, startups, co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, mentors, angel investors, VCs, creative companies, professional service firms, regulators, policy makers and media outlets they would like to meet. Building Markets used their suggestions to create a tailored itinerary. The Study Tour was a success for the delegation, and will be replicated in other regions, specifically, upcoming tours that will study Israel Innovation, Singapore Fintech, and Indonesia E-Commerce.
Global Entrepreneurship Network in Myanmar is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the Global Entrepreneurship Network, visit http://genglobal.org/