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Empowering women in newly democratic country

Myanmar, July 23, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Our Business and Financial Literacy for Success program is benefitting 1,000 individuals, with a particular focus on women entrepreneurs. "With Myanmar opening up at such a fast pace, there is a real urgency to prepare citizens to participate in the many economic and livelihood opportunities this offers," said Antonio Corro, Thailand and Myanmar country manager for our partner MasterCard Worldwide. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps has already been working with many of these same people providing agricultural training, tools and seeds. This new business education will help them better market their crops and manage the income to grow their farms. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Other women participants are owners of small businesses, including local shops, tailors and restaurants. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The curriculum, adapted from our similar work in other Asian countries, includes topics like market assessment, cash-flow analysis, bookkeeping and basic accounting. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    One activity involved the women role-playing sellers and buyers. The sellers had to attract customers with effective advertising and discount promotions. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    An important part of the role play was the participants practicing negotiation skills as sellers and learning how to handle difficult customers without losing their business. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The ultimate motivation, according to our Myanmar Country Director Nilan Fernando: "Everyone deserves a fair shot at success." Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps

As Myanmar undergoes rapid changes in its transition to democracy, new opportunities are emerging for historically poor communities to pull themselves out of poverty. Markets are opening up, and it's time for them to benefit the poor, not exclude them.

But first, these communities need to know how to capitalize on the policy reforms. That's why our latest program is providing critical business and financial literacy training, with support from MasterCard.

"[These skills] will allow farmers and microentrepreneurs to fully participate in the new economy," explained our Country Director Nilan Fernando.

In these photos from a recent training, see it in action.