You might have noticed in the past 12 months that every travelling soul is talking about or heading to Myanmar, or Burma as some of us might call it. What entices us about this place is the untouched, unscathed atmosphere, a place that stands about 5 – 10 years behind the countries we all know and love like Cambodia and Thailand.
However, Myanmar is catching up very fast. While tourism is rapidly growing there so is the infrastructure and industries to manage it. And one advantage of being a latecomer to the tourism industry is the chance to leapfrog over the tourism blunders that many other Southeast Asian countries have made, for example putting people before the environment or taking advantage of smaller communities. Myanmar is proving to be the perfect place for initiatives like responsible tourism, community based tourism and eco friendly tourism, and we should start to see more and more socially and environmentally organisations sprouting around the country.
Ahead of the game are these five social enterprises already doing wonders in their communities. If you’re heading to Myanmar drop by to show your support.
Veranda Youth Community Café – Hpa-An
The Veranda Youth Community Café is a social enterprise that supports youth development in the Karen State. Located in Hpa-An, a picturesque town that sits near the Thailand border, the café is a social networking and co-working space for young people to gather and discuss innovative ideas that benefit the community and the environment. It is the perfect place for travellers to connect with local community groups.
Linkage – Yangon
LinkAge is a training restaurant and art gallery in the heart of Yangon. Their main objective is to build the capacity of children and youth living in poverty by providing vocational training in the food industry, and better access to education. At Linkage you can enjoy delicious food prepared by enthusiastic young adolescents who are working towards future opportunity in the workplace. All proceeds from the restaurant go to supporting LinkAge operations.
Yangon Bakehouse – Yangon
The Yangon Bakehouse is a social enterprise dedicated to creating job opportunities, skills development and fair wages to disadvantaged women. If you’re missing your favourite desserts then this is the place where you can indulge in some of Yangon’s best range of cakes and sweets. They have two cafes, the Inya Café and the Pearl Condo, both providing training and opportunity to the women of Myanmar.
MBoutik – Bagan
MBoutik is a social enterprise arm of ActionAid, providing opportunities for marginalised women in rural villages of Bagan. The shop, located in popular Nyaung U, sells fair trade goods made by women in the rural villages of Myanmar who would otherwise lack access to income generating opportunities. The shop sells a range of high quality handicrafts including toys, bags, hand woven fabrics, homewares and clothes, with profits going back into ActionAid’s community initiatives such as education, health care and social support.
Sanon – Bagan
The recently opened Sanon Restaurant is a partnership between Friends-International and the Myanmar Youth Development Institute, providing vocational training opportunities to the youth of Bagan. Sanon Restaurant envelops the same social enterprise business model and training system as the other TREE Alliance restaurants. Some you may have heard of are Sandan in Sihanoukville and Makphet in Vientiane. We love the work that these guys do and now you can help then to support the people of Bagan Myanmar as well.