SME Dept to team up with MWEA to empower rural women

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Employees work at the small garment factory in South Dagon Township, Yangon.  Photo: Phoe Khwar

The SME Development Department will soon be working with the Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Association to help rural women turn into entrepreneurs and raise their standard of living.
“Women who are illiterate or semi-literate believe they cannot become successful entrepreneurs. We will work to change that mindset. We plan to empower women living in rural areas by giving them entrepreneurial training. We want to encourage them to participate in politics and business,” said Daw Aye Aye Win, the director-general of the SME Development Department. She was speaking at the Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Conference which was held at the Inya Lake Hotel yesterday.
“The SME Development Department will be joining hands with the MWEA to conduct programs to empower women in the long run,” she said. The two agencies will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding and work out a cooperation mechanism.
“Under the ASEAN strategic action plan for SME development, Myanmar has been tasked to promote entrepreneurship and develop human capital. The government is working to develop entrepreneurship through capacity-building programs across the country. These programs include activities to empower women socially and economically, and promote women’s education,” said Daw Aye Aye Win.
The SME Development Department is sending women entrepreneurs to Malaysia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. It will arrange to send more women entrepreneurs to European countries over time, she said.
The MWEA has been providing loans to women for home or agricultural businesses in rural areas. So far, it has covered over 3,200 rural women in 36 villages in the Ayeyawady Region and Thanlyin and Mingaladon townships in Yangon Region, lending over Ks150 million.
The agency lends support to women, and educates them about financial management and marketing. The MWEA’s education programs have covered 10,000 girls, said Daw Hnin Wai, secretary general of the MWEA.
“Both men and women entrepreneurs experience similar challenges in terms of capital, technology, and market share. However, women opt to run businesses while continuing to perform household chores and other domestic responsibilities. Therefore, support from their partners is critical to the success of women entrepreneurs,” said Daw Sandar Tun, the joint secretary of the MWEA.
The MWEA has branches in Mandalay, Taunggyi, Bago, Pyay, Pathein, and Kyaiklat. There are plans to set up more branches affiliated with the MWEA and organize more programs to empower women.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is observed on 19 November every year. It is celebrated by 144 countries and around 100 colleges. The Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Conference was inaugurated to mark the WED this year. At the conference, leading businesspersons and staff from the SME Development Department held panel discussions on‘women and SMEs’, ‘women and branding’, and ‘women’s entrepreneurship movement’.

By May Thet Hnin

(Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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