In the beginning of April CITO-members Kasper and Victor met Andreas Sigurdsson, entrepreneur, now running his own business in Yangon, Myanmar. According to him, he is one of approximately 50-100 startups in Yangon right now. Andreas was a member of the staff at the CITO office 2003/2004. Having finished his degree from Chalmers in 2005 he travelled to Shanghai on a language study grant by the Swedish Institute and learnt Chinese during 6 months. After that he stayed in Shanghai for 6 years to work for different companies. Andreas declares that China was a good school for learning how to make business in Myanmar and one of the choices for setting up a business in Yangon.
During the startup-process, 2 years ago, the Lychee ventures focused on consultancy and projects in telecom and media. Now, however, focus has shifted more towards media and e-commerce under MYANMORE and today includes an online magazine, four printed publications, a loyalty card, and free tourist maps, most of the income generated by advertisements. Furthermore, a textile oriented business, Myanmar Garment Productions, has also been established to support European customer with sourcing in Myanmar, and more projects are to come focused on E-Commerce. The business model is rather unconventional and heavily relies on the outsourcing of services; images and articles are purchased by freelance photographers and writers, editors are hired to perform certain tasks and websites are coded on demand by someone abroad.
Two major general difficulties with running business in Myanmar is still to recruit skilled local people with the right qualifications and keeping focus. The level of education among the people at working age is generally too low to suit Lychee Ventures’s line of work. Regarding focus there are an excessive amount opportunities in Myanmar right now but not all of them will fit one’s core business or allow an entrepreneur to make a decent profit. Andreas emphasize that there are other challenges for small businesses such as an underdeveloped banking system or slow internet connections but that these problems in the long run will be solved. One only has to have patience and in the short term, however, Andreas sees the national problems in Myanmar as an advantage if you know how to solve them; it becomes a competitive advantage to know the work-arounds.
Other advantages with making business in the country involves it being easy to start a local business. There is little paperwork that needs to be done. Also Monetary transactions across the border works very well. The image of Sweden is rather nonexistent – the Burmese tend to know more about Norway. This means there is some work here that could be done from Swedish authorities in branding Sweden. Or YOU couldgo in the image of Sweden by starting your own business. According to Andreas there are still great opportunities to make business in Myanmar. “You are either too early or too late”- There is no perfect timing. Myanmar still has many opportunities and is fun for someone that “likes to build something”.