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:

https://vimeo.com/210152011

https://vimeo.com/210893365

Closing the Project, sustaining the initiative

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Conference on Cooperative Formation a Success!

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The formation of Bawa Yay Thauk Myit Cooperative (BYTM) is one of the highlights of the Project.  It has been proven that the methodologies used in the formation are effective, and cooperatives can be formed through a bottoms-up approach. Another indicator of its success is the fact that the people in the villages indeed have savings and these savings can be mobilized given the right motivation and methods.

Part of the Project activities is knowledge sharing where results would be imparted to other institutions that would be benefitted by the results. In this context the Conference on Cooperative Formation for Sustainable Financial Inclusion was held last June 2-3 at the Thingaha Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw.

DSC_0084Director General U Aung Phyu of the Department of Cooperatives addressing the participants to the conference

The conference was attended by officers of the Department of Cooperatives headed by Director General U Aung Phyu. State and Division level Cooperative Officers attended and were joined by officers from the head office in Nay Pyi Taw.  The Kayin State Minister of Agriculture represented the Kayin State government. Officers and staff of the Community Development Association (CDA) and the members of the Board of Directors of BYTM Cooperative together with the staff also attended.

Among the donor agencies represented during the conference were the European Union Delegation (EU), the main funder of the Project; the Livelihood Trust Fund (LIFT); and the Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Internationale Zussamenarbeit (GIZ). Several international non-government organizations (INGOs) also participated in the conference to include Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Asian Confederation of Credit Union (ACCU) and Malteser International.

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Panel session speakers answering questions from the participants

Local NGOs included Phyu Sin Saydana Action Group (PSSAG), an NGO based in Hpa-an, Peace Winds Japan from Ayeyawardy Division and Pwint Pwint Lin Lin Cooperative from Paing Kyone sub-township.

Technical experts from PlaNet Finance presented the main topics, while CDA and the officers and staff of BYTM expressed themselves during panel sessions.  Discussions were focused on the effectiveness of savings mobilization, the cost of the formation process which is necessary to determine replication activities and the strengthening of the cooperative.

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Participants to the conference

Results-Oriented Monitoring (ROM) Conducted

 

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Mr. David Coombs discussing with PF and CDA staff during the conduct of ROM

 

The Project was selected as one of the EU-assisted projects to be covered by a results oriented monitoring (ROM) review mission.  The briefing document described it as,

“The ROM methodology is based on the logical framework and assesses project performance according to four of the five standard criteria of 1) Relevance, including intervention logic and quality of project design; 2) Efficiency of implementation to date; 3) Effectiveness to date; and 4) (Potential) sustainability.”

 

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Visit in one of the enterprise demonstration farms

 

Mr. David Coombs,  EU consultant and ROM specialist, conducted the evaluation on February 29-March 5, 2016. He met with the stakeholders particularly CDA, Kayin State Cooperative Office, Union of Cooperative Syndicates (UCS), Bawa Yae Thouk Myint Cooperative and leaders of selected savings groups.  He visited 4 villages and some demonstration farms and enterprises during the review mission.

 

Savings group formation: June updates

IMG_2285As of June 30, 58 savings groups were organized with total 545 members out of more than a thousand participants to the financial literacy sessions conducted in various villages. The two teams of CDA were gaining momentum as they familiarized in conducting Rapid Savings Mobilization Technique (RSMT). Based on the current rate of organizing, there is now a critical mass of members to start with the second phase of institutional development.

On July 24, the first consolidation session will be held at Hlaing-bwe Township. The session will facilitate meeting and getting-to-know of leaders from various savings groups. This will also be the opportunity when the leaders share their experiences in managing savings groups and in working with a bigger group.

Signing of MoU between the Ministry of Cooperatives and PlaNet Finance

With the view toward empowering community organizations in rural areas to contribute to local economic development and peace and reconciliation, on 5 June a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Cooperatives and PlaNet Finance which aims to form and develop financial cooperatives to support value chain development in rural Hlaing-bwe Township.

20150605_103725 - CopyMr. Ron Bevacqua, PlaNet Finance Project Director with U Aung Phyu, Director General, Department of Cooperatives, Ministry of Cooperatives

In his address during the signing ceremony, which took place in Nay Pyi Taw, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Cooperatives, U Kyaw Ngwe, stated that, “I strongly believe that this project can potentially support the development of Kayin State. I urge both the Cooperative Department and PlaNet Finance to closely cooperate and coordinate with each other to contribute to the development of Kayin State.” He also expressed satisfaction with the component that will ensure all the technologies and the lessons from the project will be transferred to the Department of Cooperatives and the cooperative societies for replication and possible implementation in other areas.

In his remarks, PlaNet Finance’s project director, Mr. Ron Bevacqua, emphasized that the project intends “to empower our beneficiaries in Kayin State by facilitating the creation of ‘people centered’ community organizations owned and managed by the beneficiaries themselves.” Mr. Bevacqua stressed that strong cooperatives providing appropriate, needs-based financial services will be the foundation for the empowerment of the project’s beneficiaries.

20150605_103844Representatives from the various Departments of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Community Development Association (CDA) and PlaNet Finance (PF) pose for posterity during the MOU signing

He further made it clear that, “access to financial services alone does not reduce poverty. Access only creates possibilities. What is important is how people use those financial services to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.” Therefore, sustainable community development should include activities aimed improving capacities of the people. It is in that context that the project is, “going beyond simply facilitating the provision of financial services. We will also provide financial education and entrepreneurship training, as well as working with the Department of Small-Scale Industries to provide coaching and mentoring to help our beneficiaries find new opportunities to invest in their farms or enterprises.”

The project is being implemented by PlaNet Finance in partnership with the Community Development Association (CDA), a local development organization. The rapid rural appraisal of the 35 participating villages in Hlaing-bwe township has been completed and the current activities of the project includes developing the project baseline data, organized 60 savings groups using the Rapid Savings Mobilization Technique (RSMT), and farm systems analysis (FSA) to determine crops and agricultural activities that can be supported to increase income of the people in the community. It is expected that the cooperative will be registered before the end of 2015.

Equipment turn-over to partners

PlaNet Finance officially turned over equipment and materials to its partner institutions as part of project implementation. A total of 14 laptop computers were provided to partner institutions.These will be used in ensuring  documentation and report preparation will be completed on time.

IMG_3866U Maung Maung Than, Hlaing-bwe Coop Officer receiving a laptop from Jay P. Supetran, PF Program Manager

Four (4) units of motorcycles for the use of Village Mobilizers and field staff of the Community Development Association were turned-over, with the remaining five (5) units for the Kayin State cooperative office and the Union of Cooperative Syndicate (UCS) to be turned-over after the Thingyan festival.

???????????????????????????????Dr. Than Naing receiving documentation for the transfer of motorcycles for the use of CDA field staff