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Kamayut Twp, Yangon, Myanmar

Tel:       +95-0940003953


Web:    www.opportunitiesnow.org

News Report

 Business opportunities for young people grow in Myanmar

A recent survey found that 37% of the country’s workforce is unemployed, and this number may go up as high as 70% in certain minority groups. While the country is attracting increasingly substantial FDI and the economy growing at a fast pace, these benefits are not immediately translating into job creation.

Young people are increasingly interested in establishing their own businesses but face significant start-up barriers, private business education providers say.

The rise in interest has been spurred by political and economic liberalisation in Myanmar.

With few technical schools, ineffective university education and non-existent informal education youth are unprepared to enter the workforce and often spend years after high-school without participating in the economy, experts say.

Mr Ryan Russell, the Executive Director of Opportunities NOW, a business school in Kamayut township for young people, said the economic liberalisation taking place meant there were new areas for young people to show their innovation and creativity through entrepreneurial ventures.

“It is often the young people who are the most innovative and willing to take risks with new ideas in business. In order for the market to develop in Myanmar, there will be a need for new products and new services, which young people will be able to create and develop. Young people can bring new breakthroughs to the Myanmar market,” Mr Russell said. “They are perfect for testing new small business ideas.”

Mr Russell also stated that young people are increasingly starting to be interested in business opportunities, but have some difficulties.

“They are interested in business but have difficulty getting an idea of how to start so they go overseas to find opportunities instead.”

However, he said only a small minority of young people were in a position to start a new business, and most still lacked stable, long-term jobs and the necessary skills and education.

In response to this demand, a number of business schools and vocational training centres have set up in Yangon in recent years.

U Myo Min, the director of PS Business School which is a for-profit business school located in the Myaynigone Plaza of Sanchaung township in Yangon, agreed that there are still many disadvantages for young people looking to enter the business world. These disadvantages include such as entering into a field in which there is not a strong business model and there are many more experienced professionals.

On the plus side, he said they usually “know the environment” they are entering and have a strong determination to create opportunities for themselves.

PS Business School is accredited by the Association of Business Executives (ABE-UK) and is also the first PgDip accredited college in Myanmar. It offers graduate diplomas in Business Management, Human Resource Management, and Marketing and provides routes to master degree programs worldwide.

Lack of economic opportunities for young people is a serious issue in many countries, and was cited as a major driving force behind the uprisings in the Middle East. Speaking at the International Labour Conference in Switzerland on June 14, 2012, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called attention to the need to create jobs and training for the young people of Myanmar.

“It is not so much joblessness as hopelessness that threatens our future. Unemployed youth lose confidence in the society that has failed to give them the chance to realize their potential,” she said.

“Vocational training linked to job creation is imperative if we are to safeguard the future by giving our youth the capacity to handle effectively that responsibility that will inevitably fall to them one day.

U Aung Chit Khin, the head of for-profit business institute Strategy First located in Pan Chan Tower of Sanchaung township specialises in marketing and Western culture training for working adults, said that he was confident there would “be more choices for young people in the future” as Myanmar’s economy develops.

“Education is becoming more valuable,” he said, adding that “business is one of many fields that young people will be able to choose from.”

He said Strategy First provides practical knowledge and hands-on experience that often results in graduates attaining better positions and higher salaries. As a business school, Strategy First specialises in training students in corporate strategy, entrepreneurship, and brand and marketing management discipline and awards diplomas through accreditation with the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM). 

At Opportunities NOW, dedicated to providing “creative solutions for young entrepreneurs”, students learn practical business skills through courses taught by both local and foreign professionals.

During the business training, students undertake 6 weeks of intensive lessons and coursework and are encouraged to use their critical thinking skills through case studies and real-life scenarios. They are connected with a local business to gain experience through a one-month internship. At the completion of the course, they have the opportunity to receive a $500 micro-loan to start a small business and will be mentored during the duration of their loan repayment, Mr Russell said.

Opportunities NOW is a not-for-profit business school supported by development agencies, churches, and foundations. It currently offers four courses: Explore, Startup, Grow, and Scale of which only Startup and Scale have loans.  Scale is a newer program for Opportunities NOW for adults that trains and gives up to $2,000 for a loan.

Mr Russell concluded that with more opportunities opening up, the sectors which would provide the best opportunities for young people to start businesses are in trading, food service, and anything they can get a vocational skill in. They are most accessible to young people because they are easy-entry businesses which will not be difficult to start.


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