KASIKORNBANK is stepping up its support of small and medium-sized enterprises in Myanmar where they make up more than 90 per cent of all businesses in the country.
KBank, which styles itself as a champion of small business, has been helping entrepreneurs in Myanmar over the past three years, with short training sessions focused on issues including knowledge transfer and raising awareness of business opportunities.
Pattanapong Tansomboon, first senior vice president of K Bank, said in an interview that the bank was broadening its commitment to the sector.
“First, we started with training small businesses here. Now, we have turned our focus on training government officials and regional authorities,” he said. “SMEs not only need money but they also advice. So, we will train both the government and the private sector.”
As part of this expanded support, KBank on Thursday organised a full-day seminar - entitled “Holistic Empowerment of SMEs: How the Public and Private Sectors Can Join Hands to Develop the SMEs Landscape” - to train parliamentarians, policymakers, officials from the central bank and the Commerce Ministry, domestic banks and owners of small businesses.
“We believe in the win-win philosophy. If we win but you lose, that is not good. If we win and you also win, that is good. If the Yangon government wins in building SMEs, the region wins. If all the regions win like that, the country will win as a whole,” Pattanapong said.
He said the bank had brought in Thai organisations such as the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation and Office of SME Promotion to share their policy frameworks and offer advice for step by step development on how the success of SMEs in Thailand can be replicated in Myanmar.
Pattanapong said the bank had trained the owners of more than 300 SMEs in seven major cities - Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Mawlamyine, Myeik, Taunggyi and Bago - in cooperation with the Union of Myanmar Federation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Centre for SME Development under the Ministry of Industry.
The training sessions have mainly focused on sharing knowledge about basic accounting, tax, access to bank finance and the development of a business plan, including marketing, human resources, production and finance.
“The right framework and policies are in place to support the growth of SMEs,” Pattanapong said. “The government will have to drive these initiatives by creating suitable support systems like an SME promotion centre, credit guarantee corporations and other systems to facilitate their growth. The banking sector will also have a key role in supporting these initiatives by providing access to finance.”
He said Thailand also had undergone many struggles to achieve the current level of SME competitiveness. He urged the Myanmar government and the private sector to cooperate on the creation of a sustainable SME ecosystem.
This week, the bank launched a remittance service in partnership with KBZ Bank that enables migrant workers to transfer money back home through more than 9,000 ATMs nationwide.
“Through our support, we see trading between Myanmar and Thailand as growing quickly. We also do business matching for both sides to encourage joint ventures, partnerships and franchises,” Pattanapong said.
During the interview, Pattanapong indicated the bank hoped to gain a foreign bank licence in Myanmar. “We want to help Myanmar to develop further. So, please give us a chance to work with business partners in Myanmar. If we can get the licence, we can fully support Myanmar and Thai traders,” he said.