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Interview with Khin Thet Maw Secretary General of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA)

Name : Khin Thet Maw

Position : Secretary General of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA)

Daw Khin Thet Maw is the Secretary General of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA). MYEA is a non-profit association that aims to empower Myanmar entrepreneurs in creating a robust start-up community in the country. They have organized and participated in numerous events and activities with a variety of organisations both locally as well as internationally


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do at MYEA?

I’m the secretary general of MYEA and as for my own business, I’m running Printing and Publishing business and also Microfinance institution. What is MYEA’s mission in Myanmar? Our mission is “ Leading Institution for the Entrepreneurs’ Development.” We aim for the emergence of entrepreneurs and startups and we give support for the emergence of skillful entrepreneurs.

What is the biggest challenge MYEA faced when established?

How did MYEA meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge we faced is gathering entrepreneurs to form MYEA. In 2008, there was an initiative between ASEAN and China to form the ASEAN China Young Entrepreneurs Forum, where the leading young entrepreneurship associations from ASEAN and China would come together for the development of entrepreneurship in the region. At that time, Myanmar did not have a representative organization to participate in this initiative. Due tothis, under the guidance and support of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry(UMFCCI), the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Group was formed in November 2009. However, we can’t recruit new members a a group so we tried to register as an association. After 3 years, we got permission from government to form an association and Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association emerged.

How have you recruited people with technical and industry know-how?

Or, how do you train them? There are four types of members, honorable members who are professional experts, alumni members who are over 45 years old, ordinary members who are business owners and associate members who are willing to start up a business. Now our association has over 600 members and we arrange seminars and workshops regularly for them.

What are your current and future activities?

At present, we are helping businessmen get international business networking. For our members we have internship programs, both long term and short term. For those who want to be entrepreneurs, we have entrepreneur development training classes where basic knowledges required to start up a business are taught. For our associate members and graduates, we have been holding job fairs for nine years. We will continue to help entrepreneurs to get connected with good networking and also provide training programs. Not only in Yangon but also in other regions, we will persuade people to join our association and give business information. We are also planning to hold inspirational talks at business management schools. Now our association has over 600 members and we arrange seminars and workshops regularly for them.

How does MYEA give support to young entrepreneurs who join the association?

As they join the association, they get networking with successful businessmen. They can also attend entrepreneur development training programs where they can get counselling and coaching directly from successful businessmen regarding the business they are establishing.

What government policies do youthink hinders entrepreneurs?

How would you change it? MYEA is planning to hold the Entrepreneurship Summit around the end of October and the start of November. We are currently in the middle of preparing entrepreneur survey report with the help of consultants. We plan to submit the survey report to the government at the upcoming Summit. In the report, we will include interviews of entrepreneurs and startups regarding their experiences, difficulties, advantages and disadvantages while doing their businesses. We are also trying to include the voices of entrepreneurs not only from Yangon but also from other regions. As a representative of young entrepreneurs of Myanmar, we will lobby the government concerning the rules and regulations for the development of entrepreneurs through this survey report.

What are some ways in which young entrepreneurs from Myanmar have contributed to the growth of the country?

To ASEAN region? In 2014, Myanmar was the host country of ASEAN Summit. At the same time MYEA also became the host of ASEAN-China Young Entrepreneurs Association. So as a host, we formed AYEA, ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Association, to be able to cooperate not only with China but also with other nations. We finished forming AYEA last year and are working proudly under ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

Any current plans of MYEA?

We are currently running entrepreneurship development training program RISE Camp. We are also planning to provide a basic knowledge training program when starting a business in collaboration with ADB Bank. MYEA Incubation Centre also is in the process. We are also preparing Angel Investment Network for entrepreneurs to get investors.

Where does MYEA get its funding?

How does the government and UMFCCI provide support to MYEA?

We get funds from member fees and fund raising activities like job fairs. Our association is pure NGO and we do not receive government support. We rely on self-funding and activities. As for UMFCCI, we are not connected in any ways. We have a relationship only as affiliated associations.

What advice would you give to people thinking of starting their own business?

Our country is currently facing a problem of lack of jobs for employable citizens. And workers are often unskilled and do not meet the requirements of hiring companies. To become an entrepreneur, you need to be skillful. Skillful here does not mean having a degree. You must be knowledgeable about what you are willing to do. Do not follow what others do and you must make sure that you are skillful and have great interest in the business you are starting.[/paypal]