SME Financial Competency Training program conducted at UMFCCI

Through implementing partner ADFIAP – the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and Pacific, SMART Myanmar conducted a 2-day SME Financial Competency Training attended by sixty one (61) members of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and Myanmar Industries Association at the UMFCCI Mingalar Hall in Yangon, Myanmar on May 11-12, 2017.

This training program completes the holistic approach to help SMEs access finance, particularly those in the garment sector which are the target beneficiaries of SMART Myanmar 2.0. In 2016, ADFIAP conducted three (3) Green Finance Training Programs to members of the Myanmar Bankers Association, culminating in the certification of the participants who completed the 3 courses as “Green Bankers”. The training interventions were aimed at building the capacities of the loan officers so they can confidently lend to green projects under a risk-mitigated environment.

The recently concluded SME Financial Competency Training Program provided SME Managers with key advice on how to understand their financial needs; how to choose and secure the right source of funding; what banks look into in financing SME projects; how to prepare a business plan; how to comply with bank requirements; and how to be a responsible borrower. Having capacitated both the banks and the SMEs, SMART Myanmar envisions to fulfill its aspiration of paving the way for targeted SMEs to have access to finance from banks to fund green investments, especially related with energy and water efficiency.

Cross-Cultural Management – workshop for Chinese/Mandarin speaking factory managers

While working with over a hundred garment factories in Myanmar on different social and environmental topics, SMART Myanmar’s technical team has noticed and received more and more questions from foreign-invested factories on how to improve cross-cultural communications within their workplace. Understanding and effectively managing hundreds and even thousands of persons from a different cultural and linguistic background is a particular challenge for many factories.

In order to address this need and facilitate better workplace cooperation and dialogue, SMART Myanmar developed a Cross-Cultural Communications seminar. This was first organized in Nov. 2016 and was held again on May 31st, 2017. The seminar aims to discuss the challenges in garment factories on cross-cultural communications, introduce details and nuances about Myanmar culture and share good practices on how to integrate sensitivity and respect for local culture into factory management systems. So far, 82 participants from 45 companies have attended the seminars and given very positive feedback.

Due to overwhelming demand, SMART Myanmar will continue to conduct this seminar in different languages to support garment factories to improve workplace communications, labor relations and to promote better harmony and understanding in the industry. Another seminar will be held in Chinese/Mandarin language on July 14th, conducted by SMART’s multi-lingual Chinese and Myanmar technical experts.

Contact [email protected] to register.

Training local consultancy service providers for the garment industry

Following on the roadmap of SMART Myanmar and Business Innovation Facility (BIF) cooperation, in March 2017 senior technical expert Nancy Feng of SMART Myanmar coached eight consultants from three different Myanmar consultancy firms to further enhance their capacities on HR management in garment factories. The five days coaching consisted of the following parts:

• One day classroom training on performance appraisal system aims at raising their awareness on the importance of performance appraisal, broaden their understanding and enhance the in-depth knowledge on the structure, different methods and practices in the garment factories.

• Four days in-factory coaching to give the consultants first-hand experience to apply knowledge learned from the class room training in the real factory situation. The assessment was led by Ms. Feng who explained to the consultants to help them improve their understanding of common issues and good practices of HR general management, employee retention, working hours and salary systems. As one practical task, the consultants were taught how to interview selected production line workers to learn about good interview methods and improve their communications as well as information collection skills. This kind of intervention creates clear links between theoretical knowledge and real life applications.

These actions were further followed up with more practical work in April. SMART’s technical experts Ms. May Mi Kyaw and Ms. Haymar Oo guided the eight consultants in how to conduct factory assessments, in particular checking HR documents and checking on-site workplace safety & health conditions.

SMART conducts final training session for factories in SCORE Program

In March 2017 SMART Myanmar launched a third round of the SCORE program, an ILO designed enterprise training method. Four locally owned factories joined and after three months of on-site coaching support SMART Myanmar arranged this 3rd joint training session on 16th June 2017.

Productivity, quality management, safety at work and productivity through cleaner production are all topics covered during this session. The workshop was led by four of SMART’s local SCORE certified trainers, who taught each topic respectively. 13 participants attended from the 4 factories with whom SMART is presently conducting the SCORE program. All participants took part actively in group work, knowledge and experience sharing, as well as all other activities.

The first session of the day was led by Ms. Hay Mar Oo and focused on theoretical knowledge based on real life experiences to demonstrate productivity management and lean manufacturing concepts. This session also included experience and achievement sharing among the participants. In the afternoon section the trainers addressed problem solving methods, quality tools and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for quality control by doing group work. Mr. Ye Hein Htet continued by explaining occupational health and safety issues in the work place. In the last session Ms. Min Mon Myat lectured about cleaner production and environmentally friendly practices in factories.

During the morning section, Ms. Zin Zin Wai (Factory Manager) from Belle Maison Maple factory presented their progress during the SCORE program. She said that before joining the SCORE program with SMART “There was no 5S system in the factory before and workers did not know about it either. Now the factory is applying 3S practices according to our factory situation. I always talk about the importance of 3S in the weekly meetings and put up posters showing the meaning of 3S on the factory’s notice board. Thereby, workers now recognize what 3S means, they keep these methods in their mind and practice them in their working areas. This is one of the improvements which was achieved in cooperation with SMART Myanmar in the SCORE program”.

In the afternoon session Ms. Thet Thet San (QC supervisor) from Cho Cho Phyu factory in Shwe Pyi Thar shared her experience on the Quality Assurance 7.0 Audit System which was introduced in late April, 2017. She said that “We now apply it in our daily practice in the factory after getting to know this method. It is more effective than our previous method. We are able to detect more types of defects and at the same time our rework rate has decreased and productivity is better than before”.

More still Ms. Than Than Aye, Factory Manager from Sandar Hein, expressed the difference before and after joining the SCORE program. She said that “We see great achievements in the warehouse area which is now re-arranged according to the 5S system. We also separated the specific areas for reused things from unused things in the store room which was messy and untidy before”.

The day’s session concluded with an evaluation. All the participants gave positive feedback and indicated they were highly satisfied with the training approach.

SMART Myanmar conducts new ‘HR Management Lab’

During May 24th-26th SMART Myanmar held the first ‘Human Resources Management Lab’ of 2017.

This workshop is a three-day interactive program module developed by SMART Myanmar to instill and teach best practices in garment factory HR management, especially focused on systems and policy based improvements. A total 30 participants attended this training, mostly middle-management staff from garment factory HR departments. SMART’s HR Management Labs are normally taught 3 times per year and are open to all garment, footwear and textile factory HR staff.

Jacob A. Clere, Team Leader of SMART Myanmar opened the session by welcoming and introducing participants to the 3 day workshop. The sessions were led by Ms. Nancy Feng, SMART Myanmar’s Senior Technical Expert and some sessions were taught by SMART Myanmar’s HR technical experts Zar Chi Tun and Hsu Yin Win.

To conduct effective role playing and group discussions, all participant were divided into five groups, in which they actively participated and and discussed real life organizational HR case studies.

Ms. Feng presented on strategic HR management and responsibility, especially HR planning, the importance of root cause analysis, how to properly calculate and analyze turnover rates, HR action plans, best systems for handling remuneration, recruitment processes, effective communication within large organizations, handling grievances and training development. During the first day of training, Ms. Tun, presented effective problem solving strategies in the factory. During the second day, Ms. Win explained about the PDCA Process. The participants learned how to become more highly organized, systematic and multi-tasking professionals and how to better incorporate responsible business practices into their management approach.

The participants involved were very satisfied with the training workshop, recognizing that the knowledge acquired will be instrumental for their day-to-day HR activities. After completion of three days training, certificates of completion were awarded to each of the participants who attended all 3 days.

“The best thing I learn from SMART Myanmar project is to increase my awareness to think more from workers’ perspective, how to make the communication easier for them. I started to reflect on our orientation training to make it more effective. We are planning to provide refresher training with more catchy, simple posters and explanations.”

~ Ms. Khin Yamone Zaw, training participant from one of SMART’s training programs in 2016.

SMART Myanmar launches “Shwe Job” smartphone app on International Workers’ Day

With support of the European Union and GIZ, SMART Myanmar has developed an educational smartphone app for industrial workers in Myanmar called “Shwe Job”. On International Workers’ Day, May 1st, SMART Myanmar celebrated the public launch of this app in the Google Play Store with local civil society organization, Thone Pann Hla, at the Sunday Café II in Hlaing Thar Yar Township. Approximately 120 garment workers joined the event.

Factory workers relax at the Sunday Cafe II during the launch event for Shwe Job on May 1st.

About Shwe Job:

Shwe Job is an app created by SMART Myanmar to teach garment factory workers about good practices for occupational safety & health in the factory and to increase awareness and knowledge of the existing labour laws in Myanmar. This app uses a combination of stories, illustrations and voiceovers.
Shwe Job references Myanmar’s existing labour laws whenever possible, but also supplements in additional recommendations on occupational safety & health based on international standards and best practices. SMART Myanmar’s goal in creating this app is to create a useful and practical educational tool. The app is not meant to be comprehensive or authoritative, but rather is designed to teach and increase knowledge in a format which is approachable to factory workers.
Shwe Job also includes a Salary Calculator – another tool for workers to understand how their monthly salary is calculated.

“When we started working with Myanmar’s garment workers fewer than 1% owned smart phones. Now, over 90% do. This is an amazing shift in just 4 years. It is this incredible change that prompted us to create a teaching tool which can make full use of the latest and most relevant technologies.” – SMART Myanmar Team Leader Jacob A. Clere.

About SMART Myanmar:

SMART Myanmar is a project funded by the European Union and has been conducting training and capacity building programs on social and environmental issues with garment factories in Myanmar since 2013. The project actively supports and promotes sustainable consumption and production (SCP) of garments “Made in Myanmar” – a concept with emphasis on resource efficiency and social responsibility.

For more photos:

Download the Shwe Job app in the Google Play Store (Android phones only):

Conclusion of ‘green banker’ training in cooperation with Myanmar Banks Association

During November 2016 SMART Myanmar’s implementing partner ADFIAP (The Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific) conducted their final week of training for ‘green bankers’. This was the conclusion of a 3-week training program for a dedicated selection of bankers from nearly every locally owned bank in Myanmar.

SMART Myanmar managed to provide this green banker training program to managers and loan officers from 28 banks, with a total of 39 bankers participating in the program. The instruction was designed in a classroom format, but also included interactive participatory sections wherein participants had to present cases based on practical scenarios. As a final test, training participants were various case studies and asked to design project proposals. This was an extremely useful practice for them to learn how to appraise green loans, and is also relevant for any project-based loan appraisal.

In Myanmar most banks rely on collateral-based lending and this kind of project-based lending structure is still fairly new. As such, the financial experts from ADFIAP were pleased to educate local bank staff on the advantages of risk evaluation and project-based lending.

Now that the first year of SMART’s “Green Finance Training Program” has concluded its first year, those certified as “Green Bankers” are envisioned to become champions for green finance within their respective banks. During 2017 ADFIAP will conduct further training with local SMEs on applying for loans. This will be followed by a matchmaking pilot, during which a small selection of companies with suitable green projects will be presented to some of the graduates of the green banking program. Both sides will receive technical advisory support from ADFIAP on the merits of applying for and granting loans based on the specific situations.

Bigger picture

SMART Myanmar’s green finance initiative is designed to give SMEs access to finance from banks to fund green investments. The training interventions address the gaps in technical, financial and environmental capacities of loan officers to confidently lend to green projects under a risk-mitigated environment, which is identified as one of the major deterrents in green project financing.

Sustainable Public Procurement of garments & textiles in Myanmar


SMART Myanmar is a 2.8 million euros project funded by the EU’s SWITCH Asia programme with the aim to advance social and environmental improvements in Myanmar’s garment industry. One component of the project foresees to assess purchasing practices of garments & textiles by public institutions in Myanmar and to initiate dialogue between public and private sector representatives to discuss the current public procurement set-up and future adaptations needed to conduct public procurement in a more sustainable way. Sustainable public procurement (SPP) has many environmental, social and economic benefits and can be a powerful approach towards ensuring sustainable growth within a country.

SMART’s activities in 2016 on SPP in Myanmar

Since March 2016, SMART’s project staff, with the support of the procurement expert from Made-by (Netherlands organization and one of the implementing partners of SMART) have been meeting relevant ministries and the responsible personnel to assess procurement practices and policies, with emphasis on sustainability criteria. No sustainability criteria were found in the current public procurement procedures and practices, but a strong interest has been observed. What is needed is strong policy guidance from the government and technical support, referring to adequate training of the procurement personnel. Currently, the Ministry of Planning and Finance is drafting a procurement law with the help of the World Bank. Once this law is promulgated it will be easier for the government to adopt and apply sustainability criteria.

On the 27th of September, 2016 SMART Myanmar organized an inter-ministerial dialogue in Nay Pyi Taw, hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. 35 representatives from 15 ministries attended. The purpose of the dialogue was to raise awareness on best practices and benefits of SPP, to discuss the current status of procurement procedures at the ministries and to exchange views on practical challenges and potential solutions.

A second public-private dialogue was organized in Yangon in November to bring together company representatives from the garment industry and representatives from selected ministries. The private sector representatives included several MGMA members, in particular two that have produced garments for public sector tenders. The objective of this public-private dialogue was to exchange perspectives and build-up knowledge on SPP for manufacturers and public procurers.

Both of these events were also undertaken to inform SMART in developing practical recommendations for the Myanmar government on integrating sustainability criteria into public procurement procedures in future.

These events were managed by Dr. Christina Raab, Principal Consultant from Made-By and supported by Su Tayar Lin and Zar Chi Oo from the project office. SMART was pleased that both workshops involved highly interactive discussions and provided an open and trustful platform for exchange of views.

In mid 2017 SMART Myanmar will publish a report on the project’s findings based on independent research and the outcomes of these events.

Boosting business success of SMEs in garment industry with global recognized SCORE method

SMART Myanmar co-operated with the ILO and Kaizen Institute to develop the SCORE program for garment industries in late 2015 and early 2016. SMART Myanmar is presently the only accredited locally based service provider to teach the ILO’s SCORE program for companies in the garment, footwear and accessories manufacturing industries.

In addition to the 3 factories finishing SCORE II, 10 new factories joined the certificate ceremony to learn about SCORE III.

SCORE is a global program developed by the ILO and focuses on boosting company performance through workplace cooperation. It is designed with five modules: Workplace cooperation, managing continuous improvement, productivity through cleaner & leaner production, workforce management for business success and safety & health at work.

Starting in September 2016, SMART Myanmar conducted a second SCORE program round with three locally owned garment factories: Nine Two Nine, Htike Htike and MP Garment. Over 6 months these factories received three days of classroom training. A half-dozen of SMART Myanmar’s ILO SCORE certified trainers delivered this “SCORE II” Program, during both classroom trainings and on-site coaching with the EITs (EIT=Enterprise Improvement Teams: a key part of the SCORE method for achieving common goals).

U Aung Ko Ko Oo shares his positive experience in SCORE II.

In February 2017, SMART Myanmar celebrated the successful participation of these companies in the program with certificates of recognition and promoted the SCORE III program for new factories. SCORE III will continue the success of the 6 month on-site training program approach.

During the ceremony, SMART Myanmar’s Team Leader, Jacob Clere, introduced the SMART and the structure of the SCORE program. Two of SMART’s ILO certified SCORE trainers presented details on modules and U Aung Ko Ko Oo, Operations Manager from MP Garment shared his knowledge and experience during the SCORE II program. He said, “Middle management staff like me often get caught between workers and owners but since we started the SCORE program, that problem is gone. With the EIT team, we are now better aware of improper procedures regarding with labor rights, management issues and health and safety issues”. He also encouraged other companies to join the SCORE program, which can be very beneficial to SME factories to help them become competitive & responsible companies.

SMART is currently recruiting new factories for SCORE III, and has capped the maximum company size for this program at 400 employees. Companies larger than this are encouraged to consider the SMART Social Compliance Academy™, a similar project program designed for medium and large garment factories.

SMART Team Leader Jacob Clere presents a certificate of recognition to Nine Two Nine for making improvements during SCORE II.

SMART Myanmar hosts Yangon Chief Minister & EU Ambassador

SMART Myanmar was honored to be requested by Chief Minister of the Yangon Region, U Phyo Min Thein, to facilitate visits to the factories whom the project has worked with. Through SMART Myanmar, the EU supports Myanmar’s garment industry to increase its competitiveness, environmental protection standards and social responsibility – in order to make the sure the label “Made in Myanmar” stands for sustainable production and fair working conditions.
Out of 23 factories that have completed the intense factory improvement program, the SMART Social Compliance Academy™, SMART decided to organize tours of one locally factory and one JV factory, to demonstrate the variety of production, the opportunities and the challenges which the industry faces.

Myanmar Synergy was the first factory of the two that were visited by the Chief Minister on 11th January 2017. This factory is a joint investment from Korea and Myanmar, with exports to Europe, Japan and Korea. Myanmar Synergy has worked with SMART Myanmar and several of the project’s programs since 2014 and achieved a milestone by expanding its exports to the European market in 2015/16. The second visited factory was Shweyi Zabe garments from Shwe Pyi Thar, a fully locally owned factory, which also started working with European brands after participating in SMART’s social compliance program. Both the local factory and the JV factory presented and explained the challenges they face as manufacturers, difficulties in improving the industrial zones and governance procedures in the industrial zones in general.

The SMART team also shared their insights regarding the limitations of industrial municipal waste disposal services in areas such as waste collection and categorization of the waste effectively (eg: how/where to dispose of solid waste and hazardous wastes in a safe manner).

Factory owner Ms. Aye Aye Han guides the EU Ambassador and Yangon Chief Minister on a tour of her company.

The EU Ambassador and Yangon Chief Minister both offered remarks agreeing to continue to promote the continued responsible and sustainable development of Yangon’s industrial zones.