Myanmar, Asia

MYA06 - Bright Network Micro-loan Programme: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: June 15, 2015

Report from BHW Myanmar Partnership Facilitator Following Visit in March


Key Person: Khup Thang 

Recent Events

Loan Programme

risky income generatorThe Bright Network micro-loan programme is continuing with the same number of people, all of whom are involved in church ministry of some description.

Most have been involved in small agricultural projects which have seen a modest to good return on their investments and have made life and ministry that much more sustainable in a country that has seen rapid and significant upheaval in the last few years.

There has been a general increase in freedom of movement (other than to the many areas which are engaged in active or potential fighting) and a dramatic increase in tourism and investment. There are numerous NGOs of varying sizes and types operating in the country, though from what we have seen these seem to be mainly operating in the main centres and most often not at the grass roots level that our partners are working at.

Internal migration has not abated and cultural considerations mean that many of our partners living in or near main centres become host to many students and young people who move from the rural areas for education and employment.

Myanmar continues to change rapidly and many of the poor people in the country are falling further behind despite generally well-intentioned efforts of the international community to assist. For the majority of people, jobs continue to be scare and pay very little while the costs of living have skyrocketed. Increasing openness with the outside world has brought a significant increase in foreign visitors and investment, though this tends to benefit a small sector of the society. It is hard to see what benefit this has brought to those without the capital base to take advantage of the new opportunities or the consumer goods now available. This is, of course, what micro-loan programmes such as this hope to address - giving access to resources otherwise unavailable and to allow the marginalised to become self-sufficient. 


Personal Stories

Tun Tun

The clothing design and manufacture of traditional ethnic patterns in modern designs by Tun Tun and his family has grown well and they continue to have the traditional fabric woven in the villages of their home state. Sales have continued and they have also moved more of the clothing process to the villages. Rising rental prices in Yangon have force them to move again and while they continue to run a church from their home maintaining a steady membership is difficult given the repeated moves.


making a differenceKhup was able to raise several pigs to a sellable age despite issues with illness affecting some of the animals. He rents a house in Yangon during the week to allow his children to attend a school which provides a better education and less of the Buddhist influence. He pastors a church in his local community and continues his work at the Bible School, as well as teaching in several other states within Myanmar. He has begun working with a new marginalised people group which is largely animist/Buddhist and very isolated.

His home regularly has an extra 10 people, and sometimes up to 20, who come to stay or work, or who are students who cannot afford to travel home. He has a very real love for the people he works with which shines through when he speaks of them and it is a privilege to partner with him. He and his wife are expecting their third child near the end of June.


great translatorVan has used his loan to raise several pigs and appears to be doing well. This supplements the small income he receives from the lecturing work he does at two different Bible schools. He pastors a church near Yangon and is regularly involved in ministry in other parts of Myanmar. Van accompanied us on a recent visit to a rural community in the northern part of the country and translated for the Foundations for Farming programme we presented there. He did a fantastic job and has become an advocate for the programme. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

As mentioned, all the loan recipients are actively involved in their communities and regularly open their homes providing food and accommodation, sometimes to signficiant numbers of people for extended periods. The care they provide is both practical and pastoral. Most are also involved in other isolated communities elsewhere in Myanmar, and also serve as a conduit for the transition of some of these into the main centres. 


Plans for the Future

The original purpose of this loan programme – to help to financially provide for those involved heavily in ministry – remains as a core focus. There are no further financial contributions to this partnership planned for this year.


Current Issues and Challenges

cute kidsThere has been considerable civil unrest in the last six months and there are some proposed political changes that will, if implemented, have an enormous impact on those involved in this partnership. This includes a proposed law change that would make it illegal for a national to change religion and an offence to encourage such a change. As the members of this loan programme are involved in varying ministries throughout Myanmar this kind of threat is very real.

Prices of staple food continue to rise regularly while wages remain static. As an example, an average labour wage is about 4000 kyats (US$3.50) per day while 1kg of chicken costs 3500 kyats and a bus ride costs between 500 and 1000 kyats. Anecdotally, we see the main result of increased foreign presence in Myanmar has been to put huge upward pressure on the cost of land and consequently on rent as demand for accommodation outstrips supply.

Enrolments at theological colleges, where several of these loan recipients get their primary income from, have seen a decline in student numbers and consequent reduction in staffing or teaching hours. 


Prayer and Praise Points

Praise for:

• the continued success of those in the programme and their developing skills
• the people involved who sacrifice much of their time and what little money they have to reach out to their communities and beyond
• the opportunity to move and preach to groups who have seldom (or never) heard the Good News

Pray for:

• wisdom in planning for and approving loans and the developing of financial skills
• safety and success in the businesses which are started
• that God will give wise and just leadership to Myanmar. There is an election scheduled for November.



While Myanmar changes apace the situation for most of the poor has grown even more precarious. There are more business opportunities available, though the cost of entry has risen and the economic situation for labourers and subsistence farmers has significantly worsened. Loan programmes such as this one continue to be an effective way to make a significant and long term difference in many lives, families and communities.

This loan programme operates on a longer term basis than many but seems to be functioning well given the situation. Most recipients are heavily involved in ministry which leaves little time to pursue other income generating projects and as such I think that this programme has given them a degree of freedom they would otherwise not have had.

I look forward to seeing what projects will come out of the increasing development of economic skills and awareness.