Three-stage SME plan: Research, access to finance, training

By May Thet Hnin
Yangon city officials announced plans over the next year to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises at the Issues and Solutions Forum on 29 July.
Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said the plan will include a survey of local SMEs to determine their needs and collaboration with the financial sector to determine the best way to provide SMEs greater access to capital.
The plan will also include coordination with technological universities in Thanlyin, Hlinethaya and Hmawby townships, and the University of Computer Studies, to develop curricula more relevant to SMEs’ requirements.
According to the Central Statistical Organisation, 98 per cent of Myanmar’s approximately 120,000 registered enterprises are SMEs. The CSO also reports that 83 per cent of Myanmar’s 21.9 million workers are employed in the informal economy.
Dr Htain Lynn, director of Myanmar Trade Promotion organization, said that there are so many reasons why some enterprises do not participate in registration process, including arbitrary taxation policies and burdensome regulations.
The forum also focused on challenges local SMEs face as they attempt to expand their businesses amid Myanmar’s difficult technology and infrastructure landscape. Several participants noted that the government should seek more international assistance for SME development in order to rationalize taxes, eliminate black markets and streamline administrative overheads for entrepreneurs.
Dr. May Pyae Sone Kywe, an executive committee member of Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association, said there are inadequate policies for start-ups and no facilities to help them compete with larger or more established businesses. Furthermore, start-ups are also discouraged by Myanmar’s lack of an intellectual property law.  The poor regulatory structure for SMEs leads most local entrepreneurs to set up informally and avoid registration altogether said Dr. May Pyae Sone Kywe.
Entrepreneurs at the forum also called for implementation of insurance to offset investor risks in Myanmar’s sluggish agricultural and manufacturing sectors, particularly at the state and region levels.

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