Myanmar Entrepreneurship and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Support

SMEs are one of the largest sources of job creation and growth in developing economies around the world. They can not only generate jobs but can also be a source of innovation, wealth creation and poverty reduction, making significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.

A Kayan woman weaving in Bagan, Myanmar - © ILO
From 2014-2017 the ILO carried out two projects to support entrepreneurship and Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) development in Myanmar with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). These projects aimed to support MSMEs in both urban and rural areas to start-up and grow through business management trainings. By their completion in October 2017, these projects had trained a network of 1000+ trainers via 400+ partners organizations and over 20,000 entrepreneurs.


In November 2017, the second phase of this work began under a single project funded by NORAD and SECO, and conducted under the ILO Global SCORE project. Through this project, the ILO plans to expand support to MSMEs throughout Myanmar.

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Our Approach: Technical support to BDS providers

In Phase II, the ILO will continue to support partner institutions, business development service (BDS) providers and larger private companies or financial institutions that assist MSMEs in Myanmar. In addition, it will support policy makers in the design of a suitable MSME regulatory and structural framework. Specifically, the project will focus on developing the following services for MSMEs:

SIYB Training of Trainers and Entrepreneurs

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The Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) is one of the largest global management training programmes for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The programme focuses on action learning and provides practical business skills to entrepreneurs which they can apply in their business right away. All SIYB training materials have been adapted to the Myanmar context and translated into Myanmar language. Our specialized team and master trainers have developed a robust network of trainers who provide trainings to entrepreneurs throughout Myanmar.

SCORE training for food processing SMEs

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SCORE is a global enterprise training programme that teaches cutting-edge practices to increase product quality and production efficiency, reduce costs and improve delivery to customers. The global SCORE programme has been adapted to meet the needs of SMEs in the food processing industry in Myanmar. The training process combines classroom training with on-site consulting, to meet the individual needs of each company.

SCORE HoCo training for hotels and restaurants in the tourism sector

The ILO has also developed a version of SCORE which is tailored to the needs of hotels and restaurants in the tourism sector. This training package is based on materials from ILO’s SCORE for tourism and Swisscontact’s adaptation of this, called HoCo. These materials have been adapted into a new package, called SCORE HoCo, which is tailored to suit the needs of hotels and restaurants in Myanmar. This training combines classroom training with on-site consultancy to improve their productivity, competitiveness and sustainability.

Tailored Business Trainings: Coca Cola Leht Li Business Skills Training Programme

The project looks for opportunities to partner with large companies or business associations to organize and train entrepreneurs in their supply chain or sector. One example is the Coca Cola “Leht Li” Business Skills Training curriculum. This is a training programme which the ILO has developed for SMEs in Coca Cola’s retailer network. The programme trains these retailers in essential skills for managing a small business effectively, including marketing, accounting and inventory management. After basic training, participants can keep learning more advanced skills. In total 15 short training modules have been developed.

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Business Start-Up Campaign

The project carries out business start-up campaigns, in collaboration with partners and local business communities. Promising young entrepreneurs are identified and supported through a rigorous preparation process to successfully launch their business. The support includes coaching and feedback on their business plans by successful entrepreneurs from the private sector.

Training for rural entrepreneurs: ‘Business Eye Opener’

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The project provides trainings which target entrepreneurs carrying out farming and other income-generating activities in rural areas. The ‘Business Eye Opener’ training raises awareness about what business skills are and how important they are if entrepreneurs want to move from production-led income generating activities to running successful businesses. The ‘Business Eye Opener’ also helps stimulate an interest among rural entrepreneurs in participating in further training to develop their business skills.

Value Chain Development

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The project carries out activities to develop selected value chains with high potential for generating MSME growth. In the seafood sector, the project is working to develop mariculture value chains around Myeik. This follows on from a value chain analysis conducted under the previous phase of the project which identified strong opportunities for these value chains, as well as the key constraints that need to be resolved to promote growth. The project is now working to promote the development of these value chains with an emphasis on supporting hatcheries to increase their production capacity and productivity, and facilitating the development of training and advisory services for out-growers. In the tourism sector, the project applies a highly participatory form of value chain analysis. This involves supporting key stakeholders from the sector to carry out a rapid assessment of the target value chain, then supporting them to identify and implement practical activities to unlock the constraints they identified during the analysis.

Project Advisory Committee (PAC)

To promote effective collaboration with government counterparts and private sector stakeholders, the project is guided by a Project Advisory Committee, which meets twice a year. The Project Advisory Committee provides a platform for informing key stakeholders about the project’s recent activities and future plans, gives stakeholders an opportunity to provide guidance about the future strategy of the project and acts as a key forum for dialogue about policies related to SME development.

The Project Advisory Committee includes high level representation from the key government agencies related to the project’s activities. This includes the Director Generals of the SME Development Department, under the Ministry of Industry; the Directorate of Hotels and Tourim, under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism; the Department of Consumer Affairs, under the Ministry of Commerce; and the Department of Fisheries, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. The Project Advisory Committee also has high level representation from the private sector. This includes sectoral associations, such as the Myanmar Tourism Federation and Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA), as well as relevant companies that engage extensively with SMEs, such as United Amara Bank, the newly created Tourism Bank and training providers as AAT Business Park or The Academy for Skills and Knowledge.