Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia with an average annual income of about $1,200 per person. Development has been hindered across the country due to isolation, civil wars, ethnic conflict, military dictatorship, and natural disaster. Currently only 26% of the population has access to electricity.
The majority of the population lives in rural settlements along the Irrawaddy Valley, farming rice besides the river delta. Approximately 90% of Myanmar's 51 million residents practice Buddhism. Five Talents works in Myanmar with several partners, including the local church, to provide training and financial services to the rural poor as well as residents of Yangon.
Five Talents is working to spark micro-enterprise development in what, until recently, has been one of the most closed societies in the world. Recent reforms offer hope that Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is opening up.
The Five Talents programme, launched in 2011, aims to strengthen pre-existing savings groups and help expand their growth outward into other impoverished communities, while also providing business skills training and spiritual development opportunities in partnership with the local church and other community-based organizations.
The program is holistic in nature and transformational. The financial, social, and spiritual transformation of the individual member, their family, and the wider community is the end goal. Many savings group members have formed cooperatives to run a joint business, and the programme itself encourages collaboration and creativity by providing groundnut oil, organic coffee, chili powder, and traditional tea leaves to help these groups take advantage of new business opportunities.
The programme is managed by the Five Talents USA office. Read more about Myanmar by visiting their website.