Innovative business models closing the gender gap Myanmar

By empowering women and girls, enterprises are creating long-lasting positive impact. In 2018, the SC&BD facility provided a suite of capital vehicles to investment firm Emerging Market Entrepreneurs - Myanmar (EME), which enables them to build an initial portfolio and pipeline track record ready to attract follow-on capital in the coming years.

EME has invested in nine companies, and works closely with companies such as Ezay, Yangon Broom and Kyarlay by providing post-investment support to help them scale, raise funds, and bring sustainable social and economic change. In just two years since launching, EME has become a leading investor in Myanmar and a global example of how entrepreneurship can be leveraged for social change in challenging and fragile economies

Ezay winkel in Myanmar
Image: ©Ezay

The role of entrepreneurship

Increasingly early-stage, small and medium businesses are intentionally embracing women in leadership positions and catering solutions for women’s needs and problems as core to their offering. In emerging markets such as Myanmar, where micro- and small growing businesses are a driver for innovation and economic growth, entrepreneurship can play a pivotal role in enhancing women’s equality.

Enterprises can also improve digital literacy and financial literacy of women through using digital tools. A company such as EME’s portfolio company Ezay teaches digital literacy skills to female shopkeepers in Myanmar, which in turn transfer those skills to their clients – mainly women. This is benefitting female stakeholders throughout the value chain.

Yangon Broom
Image: ©Yangon Broom

Closing gender gaps

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), in cooperation with EME and incubation programme Support Her Enterprise (SHE) examined the existing gender gaps in Myanmar, as well as how innovative business models are instrumental in closing these gaps. They set out to identify women-focused start-ups providing services, employment to, or otherwise benefiting, women in Myanmar. With the use of a framework developed for Women’s Empowerment for Southeast Asia, the report examines seven dimensions for more gender inclusivity in the region.

The methodology, further analysis and recommendations can be found in the report “The Role of Entrepreneurship in Closing Gender Gaps in Myanmar”.