PATHEIN, Myanmar - City dwellers in Yangon, Mandalay and Pathein are feeling the impact of the government's ongoing political and economic reforms. Real estate prices are rising. Traffic is growing. Visitors from all over the world are pouring in. But folks in rural areas of Myanmar still have little to show for all of the historic changes that are making headlines around the world.
On Tuesday, women and men representing three Mothers' Union savings groups in the Irrawaddy Delta area of Myanmar shared about their lives and discussed how taking part in the joint Five Talents-Mothers' Union microsavings program has begun to benefit their families.
All of those present on Tuesday are involved in agriculture, growing either rice or betel plants. Some had seen their crops destroyed by recent flooding. Group members said the microsavings and business training program has given them more skills and capital, and they came on Tuesday eager to develop some ideas for new income generating activities.
After hearing stories about micro-entrepreneurs in other parts of the world, the women and men began to brainstorm ideas for new income-generating activities. Five Talents Executive Director Sonia Patterson, in Myanmar on a program visit, led the informal workshop.
Before the day ended, savings group members had also participated in a budgeting exercise that helped them evaluate their management of both family and business finances.