Myanmar is a country in transition. After emerging from decades of relative isolation, Myanmar is becoming an important economic actor in Southeast Asia.
With funding from Canada and MCIC (Manitoba Council for International Cooperation), MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is implementing a five-year project in Myanmar aimed at increasing women’s participation in the country’s evolving economy and becoming active, respected and empowered economic actors and leaders.
Through the Improving Market Opportunities for Women (IMOW) project, MEDA has launched an innovation fund that will deliver business assistance and matching grants to micro, small, and medium enterprises, as well as larger companies. These matching grants can “jump-start” innovation or add commercial value to a business, including access to new markets, technology upgrades, and enhancement of brand value and reputation. Business growth is intended to increase opportunities available for women and women small producers and/or improve a firm’s capacity to better serve women, including small producers, employees, customers, and suppliers.
MEDA is a global leader in the development of business solutions to poverty. Highly focused on harnessing the power of the private sector to change the lives of those living in poverty, MEDA has been using matching grant mechanisms for many years with great success in countries such as Ukraine, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Bringing this approach to Myanmar in an appropriate format is innovative in a country where a healthy, competitive private sectors are still in its infancy after decades of isolation and military control.
MEDA is excited to announce that the first two grant recipients have been selected.
- Ecoma Organics Consultancy Limited is a leading organic produce exporter in Myanmar. Since its formation in 2014, the company has adopted its joint venture experience in organic food sourcing, processing and export in Myanmar. Ecoma is working with small farmer organizations in the ginger, chilli and turmeric-growing sectors in Shan State. With funding from MEDA, Ecoma will expand its supply chain outreach to women farmers.
- Harmony Myanmar Agro Group was founded in 2013. The company offers high-quality fertilizer products to smallholder farmers in Myanmar. Harmony now has 61 outlets across the country. With funding from MEDA, Harmony will expand its sales outreach to women farmers and establish women-run franchise shops in Kayin State.
After years of relative isolation and military control, Myanmar has the potential to become a local economic leader. By including women in the conversation, success is on the horizon.
Cavelle Dove, Country Project Manager of IMOW, has over 20 years’ experience in international and local community development. On May 3, Cavelle will be speaking about the project at Bergmann’s on Lombard (620-167 Lombard Ave.). The public can pre-register by email at email@example.com. More information here.