Doing business in Myanmar

Although I’ve only been here a few weeks, I do start to get a feeling about doing business here in Myanmar. First of all, I’ve got to let go of the super-fast and hands-on way of working I was used to working for an ad-agency (Etcetera/DDB) in the Netherlands. Not every e-mail gets a reply within a few hours, sometimes not even within a week. Of course, this has to do with the reliability of the internet (and hence e-mail). Connections are slow and erratic at best. So people rather call or visit each other to do business. Also, sending files larger than 3MB large mostly doesn’t work. Portfolio’s are rather presented IRL than send over the internet. That’s not all bad, in fact, personal contact usually works better in doing business anyway.

The other thing I noticed is the eagerness of the Myanmar people. They certainly want to get ahead in the world and do business in a professional way. They don’t mind working together with foreigners as long as they will benefit as well. That seems like a healthy mindset of doing business to me. From what I can see now, there are quite some opportunities in the form of “Capacity Building”, where know-how is shared to improve ways of working, and through coaching and training of local employees sustainability of the business is ensured.

At this moment, I am discussing a few projects of this nature. My first project, which will start in March/April, is with a German NGO, and focuses on the marketing/export of agricultural projects. In addition to that, there are a few interesting projects in the pipeline for other companies & NGO’s. So I guess for me it’s the same as for all freelance consultants: if none of these projects lands, it would be shame. On the other hand, if they all do, it would be too much work for me… In addition to commercial work, in March I will start teaching and doing corporate training for a Myanmar business school here in Yangon. The salary is very modest, but I am looking forward to working together with students and young professionals from Myanmar.




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