A third branch opens for business in Myanmar
Sont Oo Tehtwin continues to develop
The development of Sont Oo Tehtwin is moving further forward. In August 2014, Entrepreneurs du Monde’s Myanmar programme was given a microfinance license by the local authorities, allowing it to begin lending activities within the country. Since then, two branches have been opened in Dala, Greater Yangon, which has 173,000 inhabitants and lies just across the river from downtown Yangon. Dala is nonetheless hampered by its isolation from Yangon because it is separated from it by a river with no linking bridge.
In December 2015, a third branch was opened on the island of Seikkyikhanaungto. This island, situated in the Twante canal, near Dala, has 34,000 inhabitants, most of whom live on less than $2 a day. Until now, because of its isolation, the only NGO offering services on the island has been Première Urgence. Entrepreneurs du Monde is the first microfinance organisation to offer services there.
High demand from the inhabitants
Demand on the island is high; the Sont Oo Tehtwin team is expecting to see its total number of beneficiaries* grow from 1,700 as of December 2015 to nearly 4,000 as of December 2016. In actual fact, this development is entirely in keeping with Entrepreneurs du Monde’s stated social mission; to reach a maximum of the most deprived families in order to help them to sustainably improve their living conditions.
In February 2016, in this new office, the first groups received their initial training. Each group has 4 compulsory training sessions of between 45 minutes to one hour in length before any microcredit can be granted to the group members. Further training on managing a business, and on social themes, will follow during the month of March for these first beneficiaries, after they have obtained their loans.
Two challenges to be tackled
The task will not be easy, as Anna Brown, Entrepreneurs du Monde’s coordinator in Mayanmar, explains:
“On this island, two challenges have to be met; firstly the people living on the island are in urban wards, but their living conditions are more similar to the rural areas of Dala. We will therefore have to adapt our services and loan offering to suit their needs. Indeed, between urban and rural areas, there are no similarities at all in the way microfinance is conducted! The second challenge is the high demand from the population for microcredit; we will have to be careful not to move too quickly, otherwise the quality of our support for these people will suffer.”
The opening of a fourth branch, in a mostly rural area called Twante which lies 25km further south from Dala, is planned for September 2016.
* This is the figure for active borrowers, i.e. the number of people who have a loan at any given point in time.