Mon State SMEs struggle with lack of bank loans and technology

Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners in Mon State are struggling with a lack of bank loans and technological assistance, according to the Mon State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Business owners who attended the Fifth International Market Analysis Tools Training in Mawlamyine this month claimed that it is difficult to get loans even though authorities have established links with some banks.

Chairman of the Mon State Chamber of Commerce and Industry U Win Htein said local SMEs are lacking capital investment.

“Most of the applications for loans do not meet the banks’ criteria. Only the rich can get loans. The poor can’t get loans,” U Win Htein said.

He said that consequently, many SME owners “have to take loans from loan sharks with high interest rates”.

“In reality, business owners are still very far from getting the right to receive loans.”

Deputy director of Mon State’s Department of Small-Scale Industry Daw Khin Maw Thet said that SME owners will be able to receive loans when they become members of the Directorate of Industrial Supervision and Inspection.

But some business owners told Mon News Agency that only a few people want to apply for membership due to a lengthy application process.

Deputy director of the Department of Small and Medium Enterprises Development U Nay Lwin Htut said local business owners lack knowledge on export quality standards for rice, meaning they continue to fall behind international competitors.
“Myanmar was once the world’s largest rice exporter. Now, rice export has declined,” U Nay Lwin Htut said.

“The farmers don’t know how to export. They have to rely on the brokers to export. Only the brokers know the market price and how to export. So, the markets of the local farmers are being crushed.”

Business owners have also called on the government to improve transportation infrastructure as delays are reducing the quality of export products.

Ko Thet Maung Maung Win from Trade Market and Distribution said “when we are exporting products, there may be long delays due to inspections of the containers and the process in moving them to the ships at the port. [So] the quality drops”.

“I believe the export market will become more developed if the government can give us more training and opportunities.”

Rubber plantation owner from Taungkalay Village in Kyaikmaraw Township Ma Zizawar also asked the government to provide training and technical assistance to local business owners to meet export quality standards.

“We have to sell rubber at a low price since it doesn’t meet certain standards,” he said.

Business owners agreed that SMEs in Mon State will continue to struggle until major changes are made.