The Global Entrepreneurship Network announced its opening of a new affiliate in Myanmar during Global Entrepreneurship Week, to promote entrepreneurial growth and help entrepreneurs start and scale new businesses.
Emmanuel Maillard will serve as the managing director of GEN Myanmar as it brings together the key stakeholders in the country’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. Maillard is project manager for the Sustainable Marketplace Initiative at Building Markets, the host organization for Global Entrepreneurship Week Myanmar.
GEN Myanmar is a year-around, nation-wide initiative, which is open, accessible and inclusive. Covering a wide range of sectors – including technology, agriculture, food and beverage, fashion, and social enterprise – GEN Myanmar is keen to engage with all the stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem; from entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and corporations, to universities, NGOs and government agencies.
“We’re very excited to support this initiative and help establish GEN in Myanmar,” said Winnie Khine, head of education at Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association. “GEN is not only supporting the local startup ecosystem, it's also connecting it to the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
GEW Myanmar celebrated its fifth anniversary this year, led by Building Markets, an award-winning non-profit organization that creates jobs and encourages economic growth in developing countries by finding, building, and connecting competitive local small and medium-sized enterprises to supply chains and investment. It partnered with more than 50 local organizations to bring GEW to all regions and states this year – with a total of 60 events and more than 8,000 participants. Sponsors of the Week’s celebrations included Myanma Awba, Coca Cola, GIZ and Yangon Food Tours, among others.
GEW Myanmar is also hosted and funded by USAID which also provided a grant for the initial phase of establishing the Global Entrepreneurship Network affiliate in the country.
The Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 launched on Nov. 14 – coinciding with the national holiday of Tazaungmone – with a series of talks on how to build the Myanmar entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging local entrepreneurs and global partners. USAID and Myanma Awba, GEW Myanmar’s main funding partner and diamond sponsor respectively, gave the keynote speeches during the launch.
USAID's funding is essential in this initial phase of establishing the Global Entrepreneurship Network in Myanmar and Awba is supporting ventures in rural areas to join GEW and GEN. Local entrepreneurs, U Ngwe Tun from Genius Coffee, and Pyone Thet Thet from Virya Couture, presented their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of starting and running a business in Myanmar. Global corporate partner, Coca Cola, delivered the closing remarks.
GEW Myanmar expanded to six new states and regions in 2016: Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Sagaing, Magway and Taninhtaryi. In the state of Kayah, there were three events focusing on women in agri-business, traditional ethnic handicraft and youth entrepreneurship. GEW Myanmar event partner in Chin State, Green Hakha, aimed to connect public institutions and the local community by starting a dialogue on entrepreneurship in today's democracy. Myanmar Entrepreneur SME Institute and Myanmar Business Executives Association took GEW to different cities by hosting a series of events on business leadership and social entrepreneurship, respectively.
Partners in Myanmar's remote areas, such as Myitkyna, Lashio, Thandwe, Hakha and Myeik and local communities in smaller towns (Yesagyo, Mayung, Kyait Lat) hosted a variety of GEW events that were inclusive and participatory and highlighted the role of women in entrepreneurship, youth groups' initiatives, social enterprises and startup ecosystems. In Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, visitors participated in workshops on public relations, open houses at city's co-working spaces, and youth forums.
GEW Myanmar 2016 also hosted the country's largest scavenger hunt and a street food fair. The scavenger hunt involved teams of up to five people to explore Myanmar's entrepreneurial ecosystem during the whole week of GEW. 100 guests led teams to use existing products and services of local startups and enterprises, engage with entrepreneurs and business owners and learn skills one needs to become an entrepreneur.
Yangon Food Tours, a sponsor of GEW Myanmar Food Fair, is a social business that takes in-bound tourists and expats on an exciting alternative to explore local food in Yangon City. YFT takes tourists and expats to places so they can eat like a local. YFT aims to reduce poverty and help victims of human trafficking through job creation and education by supporting Micro Empire through 10 percent of their profits.
GEW Myanmar 2016 also had a number of tailor-made initiatives hosted by partners and sponsors. For example, Coca-Cola partnered with the NGO Pact in Myanmar on the women’s empowerment initiative “Swan Yi,” which has reached more than 31,000 women in the country through capacity building and entrepreneurship training.
Another long-term GEW Myanmar partner, German Agency for International Development, fosters the private sector development of rural areas in Myanmar, with projects for strengthening mango value chain, tea clusters and the overall empowerment.
For more information on GEN Myanmar, please visit their online platform.