One of the challenges that the ongoing MyFINANCE project (Myanmar: Financial Inclusion Expansion Through Co-operatives) is trying to address in Myanmar is the need to promote savings and credit services in the Natogyi and Myingyan townships. Encouraging cooperative members, who are the primary beneficiaries of this project, to save money seemed like an insurmountable problem at the start of the project. People found it hard to comprehend the idea of putting money aside because their expenses often exceeded their income. Through the regional co-operative federation and with support from MyFINANCE, members have started opening fixed deposits in order to avail themselves of loan products that enable productive investments into their farming and business activities. Over 14,000 people benefited from the project in the two regions of Myanmar.
On June 12, 2020, MyFINANCE team was invited by the regional cooperative federation to address local cooperative leaders. Myanmar is still on lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but gatherings organized in compliance with national regulations are allowed. The event was attended by over 118 leaders representing 107 cooperatives. The project team presented some of the opportunities linked to membership in the Natogyi and Myingyan Townships Savings and Credit Services (TSCs) that can enable member coops to access loan and savings products. As a follow-up to this activity, MyFINANCE team is reaching out to four local cooperatives to further support the expansion of financial education and small loans for smallholder farmers.