Monday, September 25, 2017

Entrepreneurship week aims to get businesses going

Startup incubator Project Hub Yangon is hosting Myanmar’s third Global Entrepreneurship Week, which from November 15-23 will urge people in Yangon, Taunggyi and Mandalay to get down to business.

Hundreds of people turned out for last year’s GEW events, like this small and medium enterprises forum. Photo: Shady Ramadan/Supplied.Hundreds of people turned out for last year’s GEW events, like this small and medium enterprises forum. Photo: Shady Ramadan/Supplied.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) launched out of the U.S. in 2008 and now sees more than 20,000 events go on in 135 countries. In Myanmar, the array of panels, trainings and more seeks to educate and motivate entrepreneurs under the theme “Let’s get started, Myanmar”.

“The week’s discussions and events are designed to inspire and better equip current and future entrepreneurs with knowledge and resources to start their businesses,” said Project Hub Yangon co-founder Allison Morris at a press briefing November 4. “We came up with this theme after talking with one of our partners at Myanmar Business Executives who was really excited about GEW and was saying, ‘I just wish more people would start something, just do it already.’”

GEW Myanmar 2014 marks the first time events will take place outside of Yangon. Taunggyi’s entrepreneurship day comes courtesy of German government-owned development organisation GIZ, which is sponsoring the event along with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Meanwhile, Apex Management School will bring about a seminar on entrepreneurship in Mandalay.

Ms Morris also said this year’s events, which include the first-ever observance of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a Burmese-language event put on by the Myanmar Youth Professional Club, and a spotlight on rural entrepreneurship with Yangon-based school Opportunities Now, are “more diverse than ever”.

Inclusivity can play an important role in Myanmar’s burgeoning economy. Chris Milligan, Burma Mission Director at USAID, said the country’s reforms have opened up a new economic and political space in the nation – one entrepreneurs can use to produce financial and social benefits that push Myanmar to its full potential.

“We know that it’s going to take time, that the country was closed off for a long time, and reforms will be messy … but the important thing is that the people of this country are linked into the reforms so that they can own [and] help shape [them],” Mr Milligan said. “Entrepreneurs are an important part of that because when they get out there and try to set up a business, when they find out what the obstacles are, they can communicate them up.”

Mr Milligan said it takes an average of 11 separate actions and 72 days to start up a business in Myanmar, and that cooperation is necessary to ease this process and support entrepreneurs. This year, USAID will sponsor events including a social enterprise expo and startup town hall during GEW.

“[Global Entrepreneurship Week] is important because it brings people together to say, ‘This is what we can do to respond to these new opportunities and these are the things we have to do to keep moving forward,’” Mr Milligan said.

Anyone can attend the week’s entrepreneurship events, as they cost nothing and are open to all. Both English and Myanmar language events will take place.