Empowering Women in Myanmar

July 4, 2023

A woman at her store in Myanmar, partially funded by ADC Microfinance.

Empowering women, who are disproportionately affected by poverty, is of particular importance to our partner charity, ADC Microfinance. ADC-funded micro loans give women in Myanmar a sense of autonomy, a voice in their community, and independence by providing safe access to capital.

Daw Yee Hlaing is among the 92% of ADC clients who are women. She is a widow living in Kalaymyo, Myanmar, with one of her sons and her granddaughter. Before micro loans were available in Myanmar, her son was hospitalised and she was unable to afford his medical bills. Yee Hlaing was forced to borrow from a local loan shark. The interest rate was exorbitantly high and left her struggling to afford to feed her family. 

ADC Microfinance works with Zozam Microfinance Company (ZMF) in Myanmar. ADC-funded micro loans are distributed by ZMF who employ local staff to consider loan applications and evaluate business plans.

Yee Hlang was 'unbanked' before connecting with ZMF. Like most clients, she didn't have access to legitimate financial services or institutions. For many people in Myanmar, this is because there are no physical bank branches in their area, or due to financial barriers such as upfront costs, minimum deposit requirements, and fees.

With her first ADC-funded loan of approximately $200 NZD, Yee Hlaing set up a small shop at the local market, selling basic household goods. She worked hard from the early hours of each day and built up good relationships with local customers. She has used subsequent micro loans to grow her shop and expand her offerings, investing in new stock including dried fish and clothes. 

Additional capital can’t be secured until previous loans are fully repaid. Yee Hlaing is currently on her fourth ADC-funded loan, valued at approximately $270 NZD. She is modest about her plans, telling us “I don’t want to expand very big… I’m already old!” As well as investing in her shop, she will use some of her loan to repair her home.

One of the requirements of all ADC clients is that they put aside a small amount for insurance and savings. Yee Hlaing is part of a savings group with three other clients. They each save 3000 Kyats a day (about $2.30 NZD) and decide among themselves the rules around how and when the savings are used. It’s a fantastic spin off that is seeing ADC’s clients gain their own financial independence alongside others that they can trust within their community. 

There is evidence to suggest that women are more likely to use micro loans to improve the prosperity of their children and wider community. Yee Hlaing is clearly a natural entrepreneur, with all the skills, local knowledge and ambition needed to run a successful small business. With access to capital, she has flourished. She has been able to turn her life around and provide for her family. Her success and savings mean that, in time, Yee Hlaing will no longer need ADC’s services. ADC Microfinance empowers people to lift themselves out of poverty for good.

Words and images supplied by ADC Microfinance

Support ADC Microfinance with your 1%

1% of the average Kiwi's income is just $10 per week but it enables ADC Microfinance to issue 3 business development micro-loans to budding entrepreneurs in Myanmar who have an idea that could lift them and their community out of poverty. Support ADC Microfinance with your 1%.

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