Even with a good education, many young men and women in Myanmar remain unemployed. SA4D helps young people to stand on their own two feet.

In 2011, after decades of military dictatorship, a civilian government came to power in Myanmar. The politically and economically isolated country boomed. Multinationals flocked to this economic foothold – they wanted to be part of it when the next Asian Tiger emerged.

However, many people have seen nothing of the past few years’ economic growth. A quarter of Myanmar’s 50 million people face a daily struggle to survive. Unemployment has remained unwaveringly high in the countryside and among disadvantaged groups. Almost 40% of 15–64 year-olds are without work. For young people, the step from school to work often does not work out. They remain unemployed, or choose the path of labour migration to neighbouring foreign countries. In Myanmar, there are almost 13 million 15–28 year olds. That’s a huge amount of potential lying dormant in this fast-growing country.

Disadvantaged young people become self-employed entrepreneurs

To reduce the exodus – and unemployment – Myanmar needs education and further education for young entrepreneurs. This education needs to be geared towards the requirements of the informal market and the rural economy. It should also be open to people with only primary-level education.

That’s where “Empowering Youth 4 Business” comes in. It supports young people from disadvantaged families and remote areas to either set up their own business or to optimise an existing small business, thereby ensuring their families’ livelihoods. This joint project of SA4D and the local Center for Vocational Training treats the lack of jobs as an opportunity. Rather than looking for jobs, young people turn themselves into entrepreneurs, with creative business ideas and business expertise. They develop the required know-how and refine their business ideas in made-to-measure training sessions, as well as strengthening their social and personal skills.