Our Perspective

The Enterprise Sector in Myanmar – Status and Potential

23 Feb 2017

Myanmar is at a crossroads. With a democratically elected government, growing levels of foreign direct investment, rich endowments of natural resources and one of the highest rates of economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the future looks bright. However, as experience around the world shows, FDI and natural resources alone do not guarantee equitable economic growth. To achieve this, growth needs to be more broad-based with strong linkages to the local economy. The business sector, in particular small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, can be critical in promoting more equitable growth. SMEs have great potential for creating employment, including for youth. In Vietnam and Thailand, for example, SMEs account for 77 and 78 percent of total employment, respectively. SMEs can also play an important role in alleviating poverty in rural areas and provide local opportunities through agro-processing and other agricultural-based businesses. The creation of more businesses also means increasing the potential for tax collection and thereby creating more fiscal space to support increased public spending. In order to learn more about businesses in Myanmar, the Central Statistical Organisation and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have conducted the Myanmar Business Survey, a comprehensive study of businesses in Myanmar with at least one  Read More

40 Young Volunteers Travel to Celebrate Twenty Two Thousand Rural Women

26 Oct 2016


It is 9 o’ clock ona quiet Saturday morning in Yangon and 40 university students are gathered in the garden of the UNDP office, fervently waiting to know to which Myanmar state they are going to travel to the following week. The sun is shining and the UN blue umbrellas are not big enough to offer shade to such a cohort. It has already been one year! These fantastic students have been volunteering to teach rural women how to use mobile technology, to write theatre role plays that make it easier to understand the internet, and to record inspiring audio stories for rural women who cannot read.   One year ago on International Rural Women’s day, October 15th, 2015, the Myanmar first Rural Women’s National Network, May Doe Kabar, was officially launched. Few months later, May Doe Kabar’s very own iWomen - Inspiring Women App, an application co-designed by Myanmar rural women and young tech women, was released. The iWomenApp has now hit the 6,000 active rural women users mark.   One year on 22,000 rural women across eight states in Myanmar are getting ready to celebrate a triumphant first year packed with victories and achievements. 2016 saw May Doe Kabar  Read More

Learning Lessons, Finding Meaning

02 Oct 2016

My name is Lydia Mudryj,and I am privileged to be teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL), legal English and a range of law topics to various legal sector participants in Myanmar. I came to Myanmar in February 2015 through Australian Volunteers International, a not-for-profit organization which is committed to achieving positive economic and social development change around the world.I am seconded tothe UNDP Myanmar Rule of Law and Access to Justice Team,and my work is directly linked to UNDP’s objective of equipping justice sector actors with the knowledge and skills required to better perform their functions.   Upon my initial arrival in Myanmar, I was based in Taunggyi (Shan State) where I spent six months before moving on to Nay Pyi Taw (capital of Myanmar) for another sevenmonths. As of June 2016, I have been based in Mandalay (Mandalay Region).   In the year and a half that I have been here, I have had the opportunity to not only work in these cities, but also enjoy Myanmar’s diverse way of life and culture.   During my time here, I have had,and still have,the privilege of teaching a diverse range of students including:prosecutors from the Advocate General Offices (AGOs) in Shan  Read More


07 Aug 2016

၂၀၁၂ ခုႏွစ္တြင္ ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္၏ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ လုပ္ငန္း အစီအစဥ္ကို ျပင္ဆင္ခ်ဲ႕ထြင္ရာ၌ ပထမဆံုး ေဆာင္ရြက္ရသည္မွာ “ထိေတြ႔ဆက္ဆံေရး မဟာဗ်ဴဟာ” ကို ျပင္ဆင္ျခင္းပင္ ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ကၽြႏ္ုပ္သည္ ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္ (ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ) ၏ ၫြန္ၾကားေရးမွဴး တာ၀န္ကို လတ္တေလာ ရယူထားသူ ျဖစ္ၿပီး၊ အစည္းအေ၀းမ်ားတြင္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ အေပၚ သံသယ ၀င္သူမ်ား၊ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းေရးျဖစ္စဥ္သည္ “အႏွစ္” မပါ၊ “အကာ” မွ်သာ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ေျပာဆိုသူမ်ားႏွင့္ ေတြ႔ၾကံဳခဲ့ရပါသည္။ အခ်ိဳ႕ကမူ အကယ္၍ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈသည္ စစ္မွန္ေသာ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ ျဖစ္သည့္တိုင္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ အစိုးရသည္ ျပဳျပင္ ေျပာင္းလဲေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ႏိုင္မည့္ အရည္အခ်င္း ရွိပါမည္ေလာ ဟု ဆိုၾကသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ၏ ရလဒ္ကို မသိႏိုင္ေသးေသာ္လည္း ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔သည္ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ၏ ဦးတည္ခ်က္ကို သတိႀကီးစြာ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခဲ့ၾကပါသည္။ ၾကံဳေတြ႔ရမည့္ စိန္ေခၚမႈမ်ားကို ေလွ်ာ့ မတြက္ဘဲ အျပဳသေဘာ ေဆာင္သည့္ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္ ထားရွိကာ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံတြင္ ဒီမိုကေရစီ ျမွင့္တင္ေရး၊ ဆင္းရဲႏြမ္းပါးမႈ ေလ်ာ့ပါးေရးႏွင့္ သဘာ၀ ပတ္၀န္းက်င္ ေရရွည္ တည္တံ့ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ရန္ “ကုလသမဂၢဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးမႈ အစီအစဥ္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးေရး လုပ္ငန္း အစီအစဥ္သစ္” အား ပံုေဖာ္ ေရးဆြဲခဲ့ပါသည္။ ထိုစဥ္က ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အာဏာရ ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ား၊ အတိုက္အခံ ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားသည္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ျပဳျပင္ ေျပာင္းလဲေရးတြင္ အေရးပါေသာ ကိစၥရပ္မ်ားကို ကိုင္တြယ္၍ ေျပာင္းလဲမႈကို ဦးေဆာင္ရန္ လိုအပ္ေသာ စြမ္းရည္မ်ား ျဖည့္တင္းကာ ေဆာင္ရြက္လိမ့္မည္ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းကို ကၽြႏ္ုပ္တို႔ အနည္းငယ္မွ်သာ သိရွိခြင့္ ရခဲ့ပါသည္။ ၂၀၁၅ ခုႏွစ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံေရး အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈ ျဖစ္ေပၚၿပီးေနာက္တြင္ ဦးတည္ခ်က္ ပိုမိို ျမင့္မားေသာ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္မ်ား ေဆာင္ရြက္ရန္ အေျခအေန ေပၚထြန္းဖြယ္ ရွိသည္ကို ေတြ႔ရပါသည္။ သို႔ေစမူ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္၏ စြမ္းရည္ကို သံသယ၀င္သူမ်ား ရွိလာဦးမည္ ျဖစ္သည္။ အတိုက္အခံ အျဖစ္ ကာလ ရွည္လ်ားစြာ ရပ္တည္ခဲ့ရာမွ အုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ေရး တာ၀န္ကို လႊဲေျပာင္း ရယူလိုက္ေသာ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ႏိုင္ငံကို ေကာင္းမြန္စြာ  လည္ပတ္ႏိုင္ပါမည္ေလာ ဟု သံသယ ၀င္သူမ်ား၊ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ျပည္တြင္းႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာမွ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္ကို မည္သို႔ ျဖည့္ဆည္းမည္နည္း၊ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ ေအာင္ျမင္မႈႏွင့္ အတူ ပူးတြဲေနေသာ တာ၀န္မ်ားကို မည္သို႔ ေဆာင္ရြက္မည္ ဟု ေမးခြန္း ထုတ္သူမ်ား၊ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႔သစ္သည္ ႏိုင္ငံ အတြင္းရွိ လူမ်ိဳးစု အုပ္စုမ်ား၊ ဘာသာေရး အုပ္စုမ်ား အားလံုး အတြက္ အမ်ိဳးသား ၀ိေသသ လကၡဏာႏွငင့္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ရရွိေရးကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ ႏိုင္ပါမည္ေလ ဟု ေမးခြန္းထုတ္သူမ်ား ရွိေနမည္ ျဖစ္သည္။ ထို ေမးခြန္းမ်ားသည္ ယုတၱိရွိေသာ ေမးခြန္းမ်ား  Read More

Myanmar’s democratic momentum

31 Jul 2016

When the United Nations Development Programme resolved to step up its work in Myanmar in 2012, the first task at hand was to design a new engagement strategy. As the recently arrived country director, I recall meeting many sceptics within and outside the country who were questioning whether Myanmar’s declared transition was genuine and if the reforms were going to be more than cosmetic. And even if they were real, would the government have capacity to implement the reforms? Back then we were cautiously optimistic about the direction of the change, if not yet of its impact. Although we did not underestimate the challenges ahead, we built this optimism into UNDP’s new country programme for Myanmar, aiming to promote democracy, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Little did we know that in a few short years the leaders of this country – those in power and in opposition – would tackle real issues, going well beyond the cosmetics, and build the capacity to lead change. Even more ambitious reforms are possible following the landmark 2015 elections and the smooth political transition. But barely has the new government taken the reins and similar sceptical voices can be heard again. Will the new government  Read More

Building a community of practice for social cohesion

06 Jul 2016

image A new Community of Practice is born: the group at the conclusion of their final planning workshop in Mandalay

In January 2015, UNDP and Search for Common Ground (SFCG) launched an 18-month process to increase capacities for social cohesion among local-level actors in Myanmar. The six-day foundation course that came out of this has reached 1350 people from government, non-state actors, and civil society in six states. It has increased their abilities to bridge gaps and improved the way they themselves work together. At the heart of this process are 40 trainers and six Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners from Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan States, that make up the project’s Community of Practice (CoP). In their day jobs they are diverse community members—CSO presidents, state Planning Directors, and Ethnic Liaison Officers, amongst others. This mixture itself makes them a unique group in Myanmar, where mistrust between government, ethnic organizations, and CSOs runs deep and there are few examples where these groups build peace together. What is a Community of Practice? The term is attributed to an informal group of people who come together around a shared craft, skill-set, or interest and continue learning through regular contact. CoPs usually serve as platforms for people to share knowledge in order to influence practice, with the act of learning itself  Read More

Digital Financial Services in Myanmar

21 Jun 2016

In 2013,UNCDF and UNDP jointly conducted a nationwide survey (MAP) to establish a diagnostic of the state of financial inclusion in the country, defined as the access to affordable and appropriate financial services for all segments of the population. This report showed that only 30% of the adult population have access to such financial products in Myanmar. Recent 2015 data on mobile phone usage reported that 40% of the population owned a mobile phone (reaching 83% in Yangon area), and 41% of those without were planning on getting one. With 66% of phone-users owing a smart phone rather than a keypad phone, Myanmar is both the first smartphone-based and the fourth fastest growing market globally. Using personal phone as an alternate tool to get access to financial services can therefore be a huge opportunity to increase their spread among the population, especially for the rural and low-income segment.   In this regards, the Central Bank of Myanmar recently released, on 30th March, a regulation allowing non-bank institution to provide mobile banking services. With this new guideline, eligible companies will allow their customers to cash money in and out their mobile wallets through agents, and use this electronic channel to pay their  Read More

A Sovereign Wealth Fund for Myanmar?

12 Jun 2016

As foreign investors continue to show interest in Myanmar’s oil and gas industry and explorations continue offshore the future looks bright for the country’s petroleum sector. With the increased importance of the extractive industries both in terms of the contribution to economic growth as well as government revenue the question arises of how to protect Myanmar from the resource curse?  Myanmar is not alone in facing this challenge. It has affected many low income but resource rich countries. For any country endowed with natural resources the question is how to turn its wealth into human development, employment creation and poverty reduction. Over the years the UNDP has engaged with numerous governments across the world to help them utilise the full potential of their natural resource towards this end. One of the tools available for addressing some aspects of the resource curse is a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) established with the revenues from the extractive industries. Such a fund could have a number of potential benefits for Myanmar. For one, it could ensure that public expenditure is not significantly affected by fluctuations in world prices. This is a frequent problem for countries which depend on revenue from extractive industries. Public revenue plunges  Read More

Parliaments: Fit for Purpose for Sustainable Human Development?

18 Feb 2016

The United Nations Development Programme works to strengthen parliaments in around 70 countries.  This is done in association with our support for Inclusive Political Processes: civic engagement, constitution-making, the elections cycle, political party development, and women’s political participation and leadership.  Agenda 2030 brings a new focus to ensuring that these processes, and the institutions to which they give rise – above all parliaments - are “fit for purpose” to ensure that people see the benefit of the sustainable development goals. Within the general rules set by the law and the constitution, all parliaments should now be considering the adequacy of their rules and procedures. The responsibility for this task rests with all parliamentarians, all political parties and other groups from which members are drawn, and with the senior members of the parliamentary administration.  It requires them to consider a number of questions, including the following: * Is parliament able to play a role in resolving conflict and promoting national dialogue and inclusiveness? * Can parliament defend the public interest and pursue the common good above all else?  For example, can it ensure that individual interests do not exercise excessive influence in its deliberations?  Do members disclose as a matter of course  Read More

A Parliament Geared to Go

02 Feb 2016

Yesterday saw a significant moment in Myanmar’s history: Members of Parliament, chosen by the people at the landmark elections in November last year, took up their posts in the expansive parliamentary complex in Nay Pyi Taw. For the first time in half a century, the people of this glorious land – and the world – witnessed a transfer of power from one elected Hluttaw to another. The staff at the Hluttaw worked hard to ensure the power transfer runs smoothly and the Parliamentarians had a positive experience from the very start of their term. The Hluttaw’s first week has been planned in detail, beginning from the first task to choose a Chairperson in each chamber to facilitate the election of the Speakers. They will in turn oversee the election of the President and Vice Presidents. After this, the Hluttaw will be ready to start its five year term. To help the new Parliamentarians settle in to their roles, the Hluttaw staff prepared a Members Handbook and guidance on the available critical services such as research and ICT. UNDP is proud to have partnered with the Hluttaw, to make sure that these services, which were not available to the Members of previous  Read More