Skill & Capacity Building for Entrepreneurs
There is still room to build skills for entrepreneurs: technical skills, financial skills, strategy, proposal writing, pitching skills, etc.. Although there are many classroom training programs and seminars, they do not necessarily lead to changes in business practices. Non-financial support providers should focus on long-term training approaches to ensure that lessons learned last and have real impact. For an in depth review of the existing research about the effectiveness of different intervention approaches to support firm growth, see A Research Agenda for the Small and Growing Business Sector: Summarizing the Current Evidence and Research Needs.
Role of Educational Institutions in Building Entrepreneurial Skills
Educational institutions should combine theoretical training with practical entrepreneurship training that promotes a culture of entrepreneurship. As the government’s Sustainable Development Plan, which includes education reform, is being implemented, developing an entrepreneurship curriculum that is entrenched in the education system starting from elementary education could yield immediate benefits for the ecosystem.
A specific part of entrepreneurs’ education that is lacking is the education on business documentation. There is room to support entrepreneurs’ document preparation, bookkeeping, and their continued, consistent use of proper business documentation practices early on to improve their credit worthiness. This, combined with improved access to finance, will allow more people to both be eligible for and receive financing.
Myanmar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders should engage in more coordinated, cooperative efforts; greater collaboration will reduce fragmentation and the number of players operating in silos, thereby creating a more effective network. Increasing the frequency of ecosystem convenings and ensuring that these convenings are action-oriented could facilitate this effort.
Match-making platforms that successfully match entrepreneurs to relevant support, opportunities, and investments should be designed and made available to Myanmar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This would expose entrepreneurs to development programs that are best-suited to their needs and minimize the likelihood of entrepreneurs hopping from one entrepreneurship development program to the next.
Increase SME Loans & Long-Term Financing
There is an immense opportunity for growth as we make financing more accessible to entrepreneurs combined with better preparing entrepreneurs to seek financing. To make financing more accessible, financial institutions can start providing affordable capital for small and growing businesses by reducing interest rates and the collateral needed to access financing.
Research and Information Sharing
There is an increased need for more research in the ecosystem on what works and what does not. To achieve this, entrepreneurship development practitioners should conduct measurement and evaluation practices in their daily tasks and be willing to share successes and failures. While it is often difficult for practitioners to measure and manage their impact, given resource and capacity constraints, partnering with local academics would serve a mutually beneficial role in improve the research base while strengthening the ecosystem.
Access to Funding for Early Stage Entrepreneurs
Early-stage risk capital should be made available to aspiring entrepreneurs in the ideation and early stages to improve their ability to develop their business ideas into commercially viable products. This will encourage more innovative and opportunity driven entrepreneurship. It would also ensure a more inclusive environment for entrepreneurs from more vulnerable populations in Myanmar, including women and youth, two groups that are often alienated in the financing market.
Breaking Market Barriers for Vulnerable Entrepreneurs & Localize Support Programs
The majority of support programs’ offices are concentrated in Yangon, limiting market access for entrepreneurs in rural areas. Increasing capacity development programs’ physical presence in other states and regions will help more vulnerable and aspiring entrepreneurs access support more easily, and change the perception that entrepreneurs have to be in Yangon if they want to start or grow a business. In addition to creating access, localized support programs would better cater to the needs of those entrepreneurs outside of bustling Yangon.
Public Private Partnership
As a measure to increase electricity connectivity and infrastructure improvement, the government should continue incentivizing energy investors to invest in the sector to achieve their Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2030. Both the government and private sector should collaborate to attract more supporters to the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem.