By Khine Kyaw
The programme, Education for Entrepreneurs, was developed by Standard Chartered in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the British Council Myanmar. The programme aims to help enhance the financial and business knowledge of local SMEs so that they will be better equipped to manage the growth of their companies.
The programme kicked off with a workshop on Tuesday in Yangon in which experts from the bank started training nine British Council trainers. The bank will also provide education materials. The trainees will then begin delivering the education sessions to local entrepreneurs in October.
Tina Singhsacha, Standard Chartered Bank Myanmar’s chief representative, told a press conference held at the British Ambassador’s Residence late yesterday that about 300 small businesses from Mandalay, Mawlyamyine, Taunggyi, and Monywa will receive training in the first phase this year.
“We chose these four cities as they are the cities outside Yangon and the next big economic cities in Myanmar. We think it is very important to reach out beyond Yangon,” said Singhsacha, adding that the programme will cover a wide range of topics including cash flow management, budgeting, accounting, and business planning.
She added that the bank has yet to select 300 small businesses, and the selection criteria will be decided by the British Council.
“We hope to complete this by year-end. I just want to stress that 300 is only the first phase and we hope to do more. We are also committed to this programme in the long run,” she said.
“We are fully aware that there are about 127,000 SMEs in Myanmar. Through the first phase, we believe trainees will train other people in their community. Actually, 300 is part of the 5,000 that we have committed to train as entrepreneurs in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East within five years.”
On the selection process, the bank’s country head said, “Basically, we will see the interest of the entrepreneurs to fill in the survey about the size of the company, the challenges, what they want from us. Interestingly, when I went to Mawlamyaing last week to introduce the programme together with the British Council, some entrepreneurs proposed the criteria because they did not want to miss out. I think we need to learn anything new in Myanmar. We will take it step by step.”
When asked if the bank has planned to provide loans to local SMEs, Singhsacha said, “As the Standard Chartered in Myanmar is still a representative office, we are not allowed to do banking onshore yet. Yet, we want to contribute to the community in many ways.”
The bank has launched such programmes in many countries, including Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, since last year. During the press conference, Singhsacha expressed her belief that providing access to financial services education can boost job creation, raise income, and reduce financial vulnerability.
Kevin Mackenzie, British Council Myanmar’s director and cultural attache, said that the project would help to create better conditions for enterprise, innovation and growth through professional input into SMEs and the creation of networks of business practitioners.
“Engaging with business communities in provincial areas of Myanmar builds on our work with social entrepreneurs. We are providing our trainers for this programme. Our trainers will be receiving trainings from master trainers. As our trainers are Myanmar people, training will be in the local language,” he said.