Meet Myat Shwe Sin
Your take on the world changes when you meet someone so isolated from the pillars of progress we take for granted, and yet offer you smiles of optimism and dreams. Poverty never seemed so graceful. Far into the barrenness of South Dagon, 19 yr old Myat Shwe Sin and her family are setup in their lane with what seems like enviable peace and quiet, humble comfort even. She has a couple of siblings and sells rice from her mother’s grocery shop outside her home. Myat is in the final year of her 3 yr Mathematics course which she attends 3 times a week after changing 2 buses and commuting 1.5 hours each side. She admits that her goal at this stage is a simple one – learn more and earn more. We asked her what her experience with ON was and she recollected that neither she or anyone her age knows of another school like this in Myanmar which is helping the underprivileged youth learn micro-entrepreneurship and become self-sustaining. She found the program very stimulating and particularly enjoyed the 4 day / wk internship she got for 4 weeks with a travel agency. She suggests we expose future batches in the program to more about Marketing, Customer Service and Accounting. As she has a soft corner for Accounting herself, she hopes to be able to take up the LCCI course in the future to build her proficiency. She sells rice by 3 measures – a cup, a pyi (flask like measure, equalling 7 cups), and a bag (24 pyi). Twice a month she buys 16 bags of rice from the wholesale dealer in the market in the range of 22,000 – 25,000 Kyat and sells it at 8-10% profit margin. Myat realizes that while she learns much about the basics of business and customers from her small rice selling efforts for now, she does want to take up a good corporate job to develop herself and eventually go on to start a full-fledged business of her own. Running the wholesale shop in the market is something she aspires for on the side. We asked her about her dreams for the future and weather she gets a chance to use the internet to expand her horizons, to which she said, “I don’t wish to leave my country like a lot of my friends. I want to learn and earn here. I have a gmail address which I use to email my friends but don’t really go beyond on the internet. The cafe is too far and no one guides you.” Myat’s response confirmed the fine balance we look to strike in the corners of the underdeveloped world – one between the earnest simplicity coming from a lack of means and providing those very means for socio-economic progress. She ends our chat by confessing that she loves watching the Korean drama series on TV and wants to be the big boss lady herself someday, just like in the shows.