Sustainable enterprises documented


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Benjamin Apra and Guilhelm Baschet in front of the Project office in Hpa-an, Kayin State


In support to microfinance and enterprise development, two French bikers – Benjamin Apra and Guilhelm Baschet – decided to visit 10 countries by bike and meet along the way people who have been touched by microfinance.  Dubbed Au Bout de Soie, the biking duo visited the Project areas in February 2017.  They met with some members of the cooperatives who have  borrowed and started  new enterprises.

The video-documentation of their engagement with the people in the villages are available in the internet through these  links:


Closing the Project, sustaining the initiative


The picturesque Mount Zwegabin overshadowed the Thiri Hpa-an Hotel where the closing conference of the Project was held.  The magnificent view was a suitable backdrop for participants in their colorful longyis and traditional Kayin dresses as they strut around the grand ballroom of the hotel.


Officers and staff of PPLL                                             Officers and staff of BYTM

For two days, February 27-28, more than a hundred entrepreneurs, government officials, members of cooperatives and NGO support groups gathered and   deliberated on SME development in the context of what the Project has achieved.  The theme of the conference revolved around improving agricultural production and rural enterprises to promote sustainable development for Kayin State.


Conference speakers, from left to right: Dr. Tin Win Kyaw, Deputy DG U Thaing Naung, Director U Myo Aung, and Dr. Than Naing

Aside from the members of the Bawa Yay Thauk Myint Cooperative and the Pwint Pwint Lin Lin Cooperative, members of the Kayin State Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KSCCI) actively participated in the discussions. Top State officials also provided inputs, including Dr. Tin Win Kyaw (State Minister for Social Services) who gave the Keynote Speech representing Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint; Daw San San Yi (Director for Planning and Finance) who delivered the economic situation of Kayin state; Daw Win Win Than (Asst. Director for Planning and Finance), U Tin San (Director for Consumer Affairs) as resource persons for future directions of SME development in Kayin State.


Conference plenary session

The Department of Cooperatives (DOC) officials from Nay Pyi Taw who attended the conference were headed by DDG Thaung Naing and other officials including Director U Myo Aung and Deputy Director U Nyan Win Maung.  They were joined by cooperative officers from Kayin and neighboring Mon State and Bago Region. Representatives from the Central Cooperative Society (CCS) were also present.


Panel discussion on enterprise finance

Cooperatives from neighboring Thailand were also invited, but were not able to come due to some immigration problems, but that did not snuff out the idea of strengthening partnerships between them and the two cooperatives.


Small group

The main issues in the conference were the access to financing for member-entrepreneurs and the long-term sustainability of the two cooperatives. The efforts at making the cooperatives stronger are focused on the expansion of its members to cover not only the current project areas but the whole of Hlaing-bwe Township.


Positive PlaNet and CDA Project team members and volunteers

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Grateful acknowledgments to the funding partners – European Union (EU), French Development Agency (AFD) and PepsiCo; to government partners – Department of Cooperatives and the Kayin State government; and to the people of Hlaing-bwe Township.



Pepsico CEO visited the Project area


Mr. Sanjeev Chadha and Mr. Mansoor Ali discussing with a weaver in Htee Lone village

Top  management of Pepsico, makers of global brand softdrinks Pepsi and 7Up, visited some Project areas in Kayin State last February 2.  Pepsico is one of the donors who contributed to the funds used in implementing the Project.  The visiting team was headed by  Mr. SANJEEV CHADHA, CEO,  Asia, Middle East and Africa; with other team members including  Mr. ADEL TAWFIK GARAS SAID, Asia-Pacific Region;  Ms. KRISTA JANE PILOT, VP Corporate Affairs;  Mr.PARINYA KITJATANAPAN,  VP Indochina; and  Mr. MANSOOR ALI, General Manager, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.


The Pepsico team viewing the chickenhouse of U Hla Win

The team met with Kayin Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint before proceeding to the Project office for a short orientation on the current status of the Project. Later, the team visited the Htee Lone village weaving cooperative,  producer of hand-woven textile with traditional Kayin designs. The team also engaged members of the Bawa Yay Thauk Myit Cooperative involved in chicken production.  On the way back from Hlaing-bwe, the team made a quick stop with one of the community stores along the road to look at how Pepsico products are distributed and sold in the area.

Meeting the local press at the Hpa-an airport lounge culminated the visit.



Knowledge-sharing and replication


As part of the replication of  the project, a training entitled Training Course on Rural Finance and Cooperative Formation was held last October 20-22 in Yangon, for the Community Development Association (CDA).  The main objective of the training was to share the concepts and methodologies used and the lessons learned in cooperative formation as implemented in Hlaing-bwe, Kayin State.


The training was participated by   managers and supervisors of CDA working in other project areas particularly Ayeyarwaddy, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Rakhine. It is envisioned that the training will provide impetus to employ cooperative formation as a sustainability mechanism so that a community-based institution remains after the phase-out of CDA intervention.

The main topics covered include discussions of concepts on:  rural financial market, the financial system, framework for the formation of sustainable cooperatives and the cooperative strengthening activities.


PlaNet Finance becomes POSITIVE PLANET


Dear partners,

I would like to thank you for your participation at our recent mid-term conference on cooperative formation in Nay Pyi Taw. We have received quite a bit of positive feedback from the participants, and I would like to thank you for helping to make that possible.

As announced during the conference, the NGO PlaNet Finance has changed its name to Positive Planet.

When PlaNet Finance was founded in 1998, its mandate was to fight poverty through the development of microfinance. Over the last 20 years, financial inclusion has evolved considerably. From a series of small initiatives, it has become a large-scale movement offering both financial and non-financial services, improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Today, the challenge facing us is not so much in pursuing development for the sake of development, but to ensure its quality and long-term orientation. It must be fair, promote a healthy environment, make water and abundant sustainable energy readily available, ensure access to education and health for everyone, and procure housing for all.

When development achieves these objectives, it allows everyone, and particularly the poorest, to fulfil their potential for the benefit of future generations, which is the very definition of the positive economy.

In order to reflect the broader movement toward a “positive economy”, PlaNet Finance adopted the new name “Positive Planet”.

Positive Planet’s mission is to help men and women across the world create the conditions for a better life for future generations.

Our work in Myanmar, which seeks both to expand financial inclusion and contribute to a transformative change in the lives of our beneficiaries through farm and enterprise development, reflects the broader goals of Positive Planet. As such, the change in the organization’s name will not have any impact on the project’s goals, its implementation methodology, or its partnerships.

We look forward to continuing to work with you until the end of our project next February.

RON BEVACQUA, Project Director


Moving forward with the cooperative in Hlaing-Bwe

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Registration document of the cooperative

Barely two months after the organizational meeting in November 2015, the Department of Cooperatives formally registered the township-level cooperative assisted by PlaNet Finance on Janaury 8. To date, more than 600 members paid a total of 10 million kyats (US$7,812) as share capital.


Designing loan products for the cooperative

The cooperative is now in the process of learning the ropes of providing services to its members with PlaNet Finance conducting the Cooperative Formation Courses (CFC). Last December 2105, the Training on Governance and Leadership was held for members of the Board of Directors and followed by a Training on Lending Operations and Workshop on Loan Product Development last January 20-22. As a result, four products were developed – Small Business Loan, Agri-production Loan, Livestock Loan and Market Vendors Loan.

The other CFC offering will include Training on Savings Mobilization and Product Development in February; Financial Management in March; Audit and Supervision in April and Membership Development in May.

Training on savings group consolidation completed

As part of the second stage of cooperative formation, the Training of Trainors on Informal Group Consolidation Technique (IGCT) was conducted on July 27-29, 2015 at the Project office in Hpa-an, Kayin State. The consolidation process was started with the attainment of the critical mass of 83 savings groups formed with total 807 members, representing 40% of the total target participants.

IMG_4664Facilitator Edwin Peraz stressing a point during one of the small group sessions

CDA together with representatives from the Kayin Cooperative Office, Union of Cooperative Syndicates (UCS) and PlaNet Finance comprised the 18 participants. Jay P. Supetran, PF Progam Manager and Edwin A. Peraz, Senior Consultant for Rural and Agricultural Microfinance of the Project were the resource persons and facilitators in the training.

IMG_4615Participants reviewed the IGCT session using participatory methods

The topics discussed in the training included the following:
– review of the cooperative development framework;
– review of the results of savings group formation activities for the past four months;
– inputs on the concept of consolidation and the conduct of IGCT; and,
– inputs on the enterprise modeling activities to be implemented starting August.

IMG_4631Icebreaker to break the monotony and perk up energy in-between sessions

The field teams of CDA drafted a plan for the continuing formation of groups using the Rapid Savings Mobilization Technique (RSMT) and the conduct of the second IGCT session by the end of August. Included in the plan are 5 village-level meetings where the first set of enterprise modeling will be implemented.

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