Social Investment Landscape
After decades of military dictatorship and isolation, Myanmar has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with a GDP growth rate of 6.4% in 2017 underpinned by strong industrial performance, especially in garment manufacturing. The Rakhine crisis and stalling reforms have however led to an economic downturn in 2018 that is projected to extend into 2019. Myanmar’s development trajectory thus depends on how earnestly reforms will be implemented to liberalise the economy and create an enabling business environment.
Despite a lowering of poverty levels from 48% in 2005 to 32% in 2015, Myanmar continues to grapple with multiple social and environmental challenges. The country still trails behind its Southeast Asian neighbours significantly in terms of social development indicators. Life expectancy at birth is 67 years, the lowest in Southeast Asia; mean years of schooling is only 5 years, indicating huge gaps in basic health care and education services. Meanwhile, Myanmar is among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, with regular extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods and droughts.
Myanmar’s social economy is still in its nascency but has shown signs of growth, albeit from a low base. While institutional philanthropy is practised on an ad hoc basis, the impact investing market is becoming increasingly vibrant with the presence of many private impact funds and development finance institutions (DFIs). There exists a spectrum of incubators and accelerators that support social ventures from start-up through to mature stages. Large local corporates are also moving towards more strategic social investment in alignment with community needs.
Myanmar’s Fact File
Myanmar’s 2018 Fact File
USD 328.8 billion
Per capita GDP (PPP)
1 1 in 2016
World Giving Index Rank
Global Competitiveness Index
Ease of Doing Business Rank
- Peace, national reconciliation, security and good governance;
- Economic stability and strengthened macroeconomic management;
- Job creation and private sector-led growth;
- Human resources and social development for a 21st century society; and
- Natural resources and the environment for the future generations.
Source: sdgindex.org (2018)
Note: The “traffic light” colour scheme (green,yellow, orange, red) illustrates how far a market is from achieving a particular goal
Government Initiatives to Address Development Gaps
- Agriculture contributes nearly 30% of the GDP but is characterised by low productivity and high volatility. Food insecurity is a major issue in upland areas and parts of the Delta.
- Approximately 72% of the population lives in rural areas where 85% of poverty is concentrated.
- The Agriculture Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2018/19 – 2022/23 emphasises collaborative relationships between farmers, businesses and the government to achieve key policy goals including: food and nutrition security, rural poverty reduction, increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes, agricultural trade competitiveness, and strengthening farmers’ rights.
- Myanmar is highly vulnerable to climate change but ranked among the bottom 15 countries in terms of its coping capacity in the 2017 World Risk Report.
- The country has been projected to experience a 0.8 – 2.7˚C increase in temperature, resulting in more droughts, floods and intense cyclones.
Key policy measures outlined in the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2030 include:
- Mobilising capital to finance climate-smart investments,
- Increasing access to technology to enable climate-smart responses,
- Building awareness and capacities in all levels of society, and
- Forging multi-sectoral partnerships to implement climate-smart initiatives.
Education and employability
- 1 in 5 children aged 10-17 go to work instead of going to school.
- The secondary school enrolment rate in 2017 was 56%, significantly lower than the East Asia and Pacific average of 78% (excluding high-income countries).
- The National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021 aims to expand access to and improve quality of pre-school services, basic education and alternative education; ensure the inclusion of 21st century skills in education curricula; and create equitable access to higher education.
- 22 million people, or 41% of the population, do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.
- The Myanmar Energy Master Plan aims to achieve universal electricity access and an energy mix of 57% hydropower, 30% coal, 8% natural gas and 5% solar and wind by 2030.
- Life expectancy is the lowest among Southeast Asian countries at 67 years. Maternal and under-5 mortality rates are the second highest in the region.
- More than one third of children under the age of 5 are stunted.
- The National Health Plan 2017-2021 aims to extend access of the Basic Essential Package of Health Services to the entire population by 2020, strengthen the national health system and improve affordability of health care for the poor.
- 32% of the population lived below the national poverty line as of 2015.
- 39% of the rural population lived in poverty compared to 15% in urban cities.
- The Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2030 introduces measures to extend social protection services to children, youth, the poor and the elderly. Increasing agricultural productivity is the chief strategy to reduce rural poverty.
- SMEs account for 99% of all businesses in Myanmar but contribute to at most 53% of GDP.
- The 2015 SME Development Law offers various incentives to registered SMEs in the areas of preferential loans, tax relief, human resources and training, linkages with large companies and technological transfer.
Myanmar’s nascent social economy is poised for growth given growing investor interest, a diverse spectrum of incubators and accelerators and an increasingly enabling macro environment
Presence, size, and maturity of SEs
- There are about 214,000 community-based organisations, 270 NGOs and 500 SEs in Myanmar.
- At most 30% of SEs are financially sustainable and very few have the potential to scale.
- SEs operate in a range of sectors including: education, health care, microfinance, livelihood, vocational training, agriculture and environmental sustainability.