Govt to give SMEs a big boost
With the aim of developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the government has stepped up its efforts to assist SME operators to conduct business in the regions as well as in border areas.
“The government is planning to open SME service centres across the nation. We have mainly targeted opening SME service centres in border areas,” said Win Aung, chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). He was speaking at a ceremony marking the launch of a free website for SME entrepreneurs held at the UMFCCI’s headquarter on Monday.
The SME service centres aim to provide technical aids, investment and market.
“We have already laid down the plans to open SME service centres across the country. It is very important to cooperate with other associations. The SMEs have three requirements: technology, marketing and investment. Regarding the investment sector, the government’s support is much needed. And then, we need the institutes that will distribute the technology across the nation. We must try by ourselves to penetrate the market. We urge other associations and business organisations to provide for the SMEs so as to create opportunities,” said Win Aung.
The Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank (SMIDB) will give loans, about Ks 100 million, to SMEs with an interest rate of 8.5 per cent per year. The SMEs must repay the loans over three years.
The bank aims to reduce poverty, create more job opportunities and improve SMEs.
At the end of September, the bank had given loans to 12 entrepreneurs from SMEs. It will also provide loans of Ks 10 billion to 62 businesses and will extend bank loans up to Ks 20 billion.
SME website launched
In addition to service centres in border areas, the UMFCCI recently launched a new website -- myanmarsmelink.com -- in a bid to provide local SMEs access to regional and international corporations.
“The SME owners can express their needs on the website, for example: capital, technology or investors. By this way they can seek for partnership. The website service is free of charges of course,” said an official of UMFCCI.
As the definition of SME is yet to be termed, anyone who is the member of any association may access the website, the official added.
The users will have their own page on the website to describe their profile, details and merits of the business to form partnerships, information and tap opportunities locally and abroad.
They can extend their reach by presenting their organisations on the webpage with many visitors.
Training course for use of the website will be provided shortly.
There are more than 120,000 registered SMEs in Myanmar, which makes up about 99 per cent of the local business sector, according to data of the Industry Ministry.
Economists have said that the SME operators have been severely constrained by a lack of access to credit. Expanding loans to SMEs will hasten and diversify economic growth, economists say.
The Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank is planning to borrow US$20 million from private financial institutions in Singapore and $30 million from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam to increase lending to Myanmar SMEs. The bank has earmarked Ks 20 billion (US$20 million) for lending to SMEs under a new programme that began in August that covers all states and regions.