Hong Kong & Myanmar  |  21 May - 1 June 2018

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In May and June 2018, GIFT’s 58th Global Leaders Programme brought together executives from around the world to look into new business models for inclusive finance in Myanmar.

In partnership with Yoma Strategic Holdings, 25 executives representing 13 companies and 13 countries joined hands in developing an inclusive, non-bank financial services business for Yoma Strategic Holdings that would capture the opportunities in consumer financing for the unbanked population in Myanmar.


In Module One, participants took part in candid discussions about the trends shaping Asia and the world, learned from the insights of prominent guest speakers, and reconsidered their behaviours as leaders through self-awareness and feedback from GIFT coaches. These mind-set shifts prepare participants for the work they will do for the experiential component: developing an inclusive business plan to expand financial access for the 80% unbanked in Myanmar.


Co-founder & President, TC Capital

Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Centre for Media and Communication Research, Hong Kong Baptist University

Executive Director, Yoma Strategic Holdings


Module Two begins with site visits in and around Yangon with the purpose of meeting and understanding the interests of various stakeholders involved with the potential business. With only 20% of Myanmar’s population holding bank accounts, and only 2800 ATMs serving 53 million people, individuals and small businesses turn to pawn shops, community lenders, and microfinance institutions (MFIs) for most of their financing. Interest rates at informal lenders can range from 30% to 120%, depending on whether or not one has collateral, and the type of establishment.

Some slides created by the participants as they conducted research on the background of financial accessibility and mobile penetration in Myanmar.


On the streets in Yankin as the participants visit pawnshops, Wave Shops, and jewellery shops.

Yoma Fleet customers

Participants met with Yoma management and Yoma Fleet customers.

Participants spoke with the owner and staff of a jewellery shop that is attached to a pawnshop.

BRAC visit

BRAC Microfinance provided the group with insights from customers needing financing to expand their businesses. The customers comprise of micro-enterprise owners such as basket weavers and smallholder farmers.


Pawn shops provide citizens with quick and easy access to finance at 3% per month for gold items.

Monastery visit

A monk at a monastery explains to participants the virtue of giving and monastery lending practices.

Wave Money

Participants also met with Wave Money, a local mobile money service provider which will potentially be an important strategic partner for Yoma's financial service business.


Each Global Leaders Programme designed by GIFT is tied to a real-world field project emphasising the need for participants to break-free from the comfort of their respective industries and to address the issues surrounding the country through a cross-fertilisation of ideas.

The site visits inform participants to come up with business models best suited to the nature of the country and that leverages existing Yoma strengths and current technology. Teams brainstorm ideas to come up with five different business models, and over the week consolidate these into one final business model and business plan and pitch this to our partner, Yoma Strategic Holdings.

Within their teams and with the whole group, participants are put through a rigorous test of managing team dynamics and practising assertive communication. Participants are provided with support by GIFT facilitators and mentors throughout the programme to ensure an impactful real-time learning and self reflection.

The programme culminated with an Open Forum, where participants presented the key highlights of their business model to an audience of Yoma management, business leaders,  microfinance institutions and NGOs. The presentation was then followed by a Q&A.

The proposed business plan involves a platform that provides credit through products and services financing, collection of data to inform creditworthiness and design of differentiated products, and uncollateralised loans aided by a quick and intuitive guarantor system.

For more information about the 2018 Myanmar Global Leaders Programme, or about the Global Leaders Programme in general,
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