U.S. and Myanmar Business Communities Offer SMEs with New Technologies and Greater E-Commerce Access to Boost Competitiveness

(Yangon) – Today, more than 200 multi-industry Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) owners and executives from Yangon and surrounding cities participated in a one-day SME workshop titled “Digital Transformation to Boost Competitiveness”. The workshop is a joint initiative between the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), US ICT Council for Myanmar, Max Myanmar Holding Co., Ltd., Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), and Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA). It was officially opened by the President of UMFCCI, U Zaw Min Win; the Chairman of Max Myanmar Holding Co., Ltd., U Zaw Zaw; and the Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of US-ABC, Ambassador Michael W. Michalak.

"SMEs account for 98% of all businesses in Myanmar, and in light of the unprecedented digital economy growth at both the in-country and regional levels, it is critical that SMEs are prepared and well positioned to reap the benefits of digitization in order to stay competititive.” said Ambassador Michael W. Michalak. “The American business community remains committed to supporting the government’s digital economy and SME development agenda, and we believe that this workshop will encourage small businesses to fully capitalize on the prevalence of new technologies and take advantage of the emerging e-commerce platforms for their digital transformation.”

Taking the momentum of the massive development in digital connectivity and rapid growth of internet users in Myanmar, the workshop provided SMEs with knowledge sharing sessions with a focus on promoting greater e-commerce access and digital transformation in infrastructure, marketing, and payment sectors.

These sessions featured distinguished speakers from government, and private sectors, such as the Vice President of UMFCCI and Former Deputy Minister of Telecommunication, U Thaung Tin; the Member of the Digital Economy Development Committee (DEDC), Dr. Tun Thura Thet; the Chairman of MYEA, U Htun Htun Naing; and senior executives from Cisco, Facebook, Visa, and successful local SMEs.

"Digitization has become a key theme in Myanmar as businesses across the country continue to transform. Private companies, especially in the banking and telecom sectors, are leading the way by setting up teams to drive automation and digitization. The government is playing its part and has launched initiatives to drive the digital economy. However, there is still a huge digital divide in the country. Myanmar should continue to drive both public and private sector initiatives to address this and ensure that everyone benefits from the ongoing digital transformation. We at Cisco are excited to be US-ABC’s main partner for creating SME-friendly digital ecosystems across ASEAN, and look forward to working with stakeholders in Myanmar, " said Bidhan Roy, the Managing Director of SMB Markets & Distribution of Cisco Systems (USA) Pte Ltd.

Today’s workshop extends the US-ABC’s commitment to empowering ASEAN SMEs. In the region, the US-ABC has run these capacity building programs since 2011 in all major cities of 10 ASEAN countries, benefitting more than 7,000 entrepreneurs. In 2016, US-ABC in collaboration with USAID launched the ASEAN SME Academy (www.asean-sme-academy.org), an official ASEAN online learning tool for SMEs offering free courses and resources from US-ABC member companies. Sectors covered these initiatives include the use of modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools, use of electronic payment system, marketing, logistics, and women entrepreneurship.

For inquiries related to this workshop and other US-ABC SME activities, please contact Vinsensius Kangen at vkangen@usasean.org.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.