HamsaHub organised a seminar “Cross Sector Perspectives on Investments in Myanmar” on 28th September 2015 (Monday) at UMFCCI. The seminar was well attended by the representatives of foreign chambers of commerce, the UMFCCI, the legal community and international development organisations.
The methodology of the event where speakers only spoke less than 5 minutes each allowing greater number of questions from the audience enabled the lively discussions throughout the 90 minutes conjure.
Fitting to the theme of the event, the three speakers inspired the audience with their knowledge and recent high profile experience of engagements in Myanmar. The discussions were moderated by U Thuta Aung, Co-Founder of HamsaHub and also an active advocate and practitioner of CSR.
Ms. Piyamal Pichaiwongse, Deputy Liaison Officer of the International Labour Organisation, highlighted that investors have the responsibility and the power to cause positive change in Myanmar. The speaker also stressed the importance nature of the concept of “DNH Do No Harm” principles which is not passive (i.e. do nothing) but rather to actively apply CSR and to find ways to minimise damage to the stakeholders on the ground.
Ms. Julia Bakutis, Country Sustainability Manager for H & M, who is based in Yangon, spoke of her recent experience bringing a global garment brand into Myanmar and working with suppliers in the country whilst setting up code of conduct. Julia highlighted the need to communicate expectations and ethics to potential partners such as agreeing on labour standards and zero tolerance on corruption. It was also remarked that however promising a potential partner be as long as minimum requirements are not met there will be no business with H & M.
Mr. Chris Nolan, Director of Myanmar Capital Advisors and Advisor to Apollo Towers, a company responsible for setting up mobile telecom towers after Myanmar recently allowed two large foreign companies with mobile operating licenses. Mr. Nolan shared the importance of having no objections from local communities when setting up towers in remote areas and the need to do due diligence at all levels. There was also a highlight that if business partners have no will to conform to standards it is important to be prepared to walk away.
The seminar was concluded with a high note that Myanmar has vast opportunities for businesses and businesses are well placed to make a positive mark in the country. The details of the third of the seminar series will be announced in November 2015.