After being shut out of the world economy for nearly 50 years, Myanmar has been left underdeveloped and largely free of foreign investment. In 2011, the country began to open its doors, paving the way for foreign business activity and development efforts.
Despite the improving conditions – including economic reform programs – Myanmar is still the third poorest country in Asia, with an estimated per capita income of U.S. $1,700. Approximately 26 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, and 80 to 90 percent of the population lack access to formal financial services.
Although there has been significant foreign investment of late, Myanmar’s microfinance sector struggles to meet the high demand for credit, with very low supply. Myanmar is characterized by enormous potential – yet great risk and uncertainty. That is why we chose to enter Myanmar in 2014.
We are working to improve DAWN’s IT and HR systems, strengthen its branding and marketing, better train its staff, introduce more products, and use technology to bring those products to more customers. By transforming DAWN Microfinance into a top-tier MFI and prioritizing client protection and sound governance, we hope to provide other organizations with an example for how they, too, can create premiere MFIs, thereby influencing the development of the country’s entire microfinance sector.
Ultimately, we hope that our work at DAWN fosters financial inclusion, brings entrepreneurs the financial tools and services that they need, and creates more economic opportunities for more of Myanmar’s people.
DAWN Microfinance was originally launched in 2002 as a program of Save the Children, and has since developed into a licensed microfinance institution with branches in four regions of Myanmar. Accion invested in this institution along with two other investors: the Dutch development bank FMO and Triodos Investment Management. We are serving as the operating partner. With a shared commitment to improving financial inclusion in Myanmar, the consortium members seek to rapidly increase the MFI’s outreach, as well as its array of products and services. Although Save the Children will no longer hold an ownership stake in the organization, it will remain a strategic partner through a key governance position. Save the Children’s vast regional knowledge and continued guidance will allow the consortium to build and expand on their work.
We are an investor and operating partner in DAWN Microfinance.