To date CSR has mainly been understood as a philanthropic concept due to the prevalent Buddhist beliefs and merit-making culture in Myanmar. A new report develops a comprehensive framework of CSR for the country.
Myanmar has initiated a comprehensive reform and democratisation process after decades of military oppression that left the country unstable. Myanmar’s potential is widely recognised, but business operations in transitional countries are challenging. Growth and investments are needed to contribute to the country’s economic development. But businesses need to ensure that growth is in the interests of all people and to act in a responsible and inclusive way, fostering sustainable development.
Myanmar was one of the last countries in the world that was isolated from international interaction and economic, political and social progress. Decades of military leadership tore down its previously flourishing economy and made it one of the poorest countries in Asia. For much of the population, time stood still since the early 1960s. After years of struggles for freedom, the government initiated a peace and democratisation process and reconnected the country globally. These efforts ultimately enabled an important discussion on responsible and inclusive business development in Myanmar.
If the reform process continues and maintains its current course, the economy could grow by 7%-8% annually and the per capita income could triple by 2030.
Stakeholder engagement showed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability challenges fall into four categories: government, politics, laws and regulations; public services and society; business operations; and the environment. To date CSR has mainly been understood as a philanthropic concept due to the prevalent Buddhist beliefs and merit-making culture in Myanmar.
A Framework for CSR
This report has developed a framework that enables companies to define a responsible and inclusive business strategy for operating in Myanmar. It provides guidance on how to conduct business in a way that protects the organisation from reputational, financial or legal risks, and contributes to the sustainable development of the country. The model consists of the following three components:
- Responsibility: An analysis of Myanmar and contribution of business to the country’s future development
- Inclusivity: Incorporation of low-income populations into corporate operations and value chains to reduce poverty
- Strategy: Development of a comprehensive strategy to facilitate responsibility and inclusivity