Myanmar Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises 2018 Qualitative Study

The purpose of this report is to give a nuanced picture of the SME business environment in Myanmar as a complement to the 2017 MSME quantitative survey conducted within the project ‘Towards Inclusive Development in Myanmar’. This project is a collaboration between the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) of the Ministry of Planning and Finance of Myanmar, the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), and the University of Copenhagen, supported financially by Denmark.

We build on quantitative results and explore in more detail a set of selected topics, as well as specific industries relevant for policy focus. We also identify areas in which our quantitative data leave room for improvement in explaining reality and specify guidelines for future modifications of the MSME survey questionnaire, as well as points of attention in future analysis of quantitative data.

The analysis uses qualitative data and responses from 108 in-depth interviews with enterprise owners, managers, employees, and officers from relevant government institutions. We conducted the interviews over the course of six weeks during the period from March to October 2018 in 15 townships from nine regions and states in Myanmar. The respondents were chosen from the quantitative survey data using a combination of purposeful and random sampling aiming to maximize the breadth and relevance of information. The interview team comprised both Myanmar and English language speakers, so the interviews were carried out with interpretation in both languages.

We focus on three topics. First, we provide a qualitative in-depth analysis of informality, putting forth the challenges SMEs face when interacting with different government institutions. Second, we analyse the gender wage gap, particularly focusing on occupational segregation. Third, we describe the wood sector and its particularities.