By Draper Startup House

Yangon, Myanmar at night

ABOUT THE GOLDEN CITY, YANGON

Though no longer the capital of Myanmar, YANGON is still a thriving cosmopolitan city where the startup ecosystem is coming into its own amid the development of several business opportunities for entrepreneurs. The city is also the core of its spiritual life, thanks to the shining golden stupa Shwedagon Pagoda, the colonial-era Kandawgyi Lake, and the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple showcasing its glorified culture and colourful history. Whether you want to get lost in the city’s ancient markets or seek out beer and barbecue in Chinatown, or visit eye-catching Hindu temples, mosques and churches, Yangon provides a vibrant and warming introduction to the whole country.

Read our travel guide to find out about how the massive transitions of the economy from brutal military junta to democracy can have a positive impact on your business. If you are thinking of starting a business, this is your chance to experience the first-hand business environment.

THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA

Since the reformation that started in 2011, Myanmar has been opening up, tourist numbers have been growing, easing business conditions and finally allowing foreign relations into the economy. The country has also witnessed growth by six places in the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2020” report to 165th out of 190 economies. However, the infrastructure and education system has not “yet” grown to accommodate the growing economy. So it is still in a nascent stage compared to its fast-paced neighbors Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. But this does not change the fact that there is so much room for growth and the city is indeed for future entrepreneurs.

EYES ON TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Make sure you check for relevant updates on the website Flatten the Curve for information on travel restrictions in Myanmar. Stay informed, and buy a plan such as travel insurance, treatment, and testing, i.e, through Safetywing Nomad insurance and Safetywing Remote health insurance.

Houses of Downtown Yangon

FUNDAMENTALS OF SETTING A BUSINESS IN YANGON

Language: The official language is Burmese followed by Shan, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mon, and few people (most, of which, are the younger generations). So most of the time, you will need a translator for local guidance. Check out cultural atlas for more information.

Currency: The currency in Myanmar is the Kyats. Refrain using money changers in the street or else they will rip you off with high rates. Therefore, our top recommendations would be: 1) change at the airport or 2) local banks. As for the exchange rate now, it is exactly 1,359.40 Myanmar Kyat to US$1. Be also mindful that the notes you exchange must be straight and not torn. They’re all quite strict with that, especially with the bigger bills.

Cards + Cash: The following are the new digital systems recently launched in Yangon, Myanmar; MPU, KBZ Pay, Wave Pay, CB Pay, and AYA Pay. However, cash has always been supreme in Myanmar. It will change with time but as for now, the wisest option would be to carry local cash notes or more restaurants do accept VISA/Mastercard, so a Transferwise card might be handy to carry around too.

SIM Card: The best local sim cards with affordable bundles are; Telenor, Ooredoo, and MPT.

Climate: Like many cities in Southeast Asia, Yangon experiences two seasons – rainy (May-Oct) and dry (Nov-April). March and April are two of the hottest months so the ideal time to visit is from around mid-November till February.

Banks: We suggest following the national banks here; KBZ, AYA, CB, and MAB.

Tax and legal partners: Often this is a tough decision to make, getting the right legal advice is not easy and it usually takes time to build trust. Check out some of the country’s trusted organizations to help you with your legal concerns and tax filings: S Legals and Ko Sa Sa Nyunt. Or, contact one of our team members, Zach, if you need any assistance with reaching out to them.

GETTING AROUND IN YANGON, MYANMAR

Grab: The safest, and comfortable option, ride hassle-free with fixed fare!

Local Cabi: Unless necessary, avoid taking a traditional taxi in Myanmar since it can be a wallet-draining experience. There’s no metres or set prices, and you will spend a lot of time haggling a price rather than getting to your destination on time.

Yangon is the city of chaotic traffic, therefore getting around by foot is another best and quickest option.

Or transport out of Yangon: check with Emily, the front desk manager on booking buses

Click here for other modes of transport.

Yangon Public Transportation
The Bogyoke Aung San Museum in Yangon, Myanmar

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE BUILDING A STARTUP

Myanmar is a hungry market so the role of government, tax systems, large corporations, and foreign relations will play a predominant role in strengthening the startup environment. The ongoing progress of the last years has shined a light on Myanmar’s advantages:

  • rich natural resources,
  • a large workforce,
  • and many untapped consumer markets.

Government: The continuous effort to transform policies favorable for foreign businesses entering the market have created ample opportunities. The opening of special economic zones, oil and gas exploration grants, telecommunications, and banking licenses are all positive improvements. Mostly, the US sanctions on Myanmar nationals and corporations have been uplifted along with the opening of the Stock Exchange market. Learn here all the latest information you need to know about doing business in Yangon, Myanmar.

Tax System: The following are the types of tax rates in Myanmar:

  • Resident companies are taxed at 25% on chargeable income including income from outside sources.
  • Non-resident companies are taxed the same at 25% but the difference relates to the eligibility for tax incentives and duration of land usage and terms.
  • The general Capital gain tax is 10%
  • Capital gains tax from the transfer of shares or interest in an oil and gas company are charged between 40%-50%.

For more detailed information, check out the pages from 55 to 56 in here.

Immigration Policies: Opening up from years of isolation allows many foreign investors, travelling entrepreneurs and startups to take opportunity of the positive turning point. There are various visa options available:

  1. Business Visa for citizens from 50 different countries: you can acquire single-entry with a 70 days validity period. After visiting for more than twice, you can apply for multiple visas. Although it allows for unlimited visits, the maximum number of stays is still 70 days per entry.
  2. Nations from 48 countries are eligible for e-visa “but” only nationals from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam can arrive in Myanmar visa-free, with a maximum stay of 14 days.

Work Permit: To obtain a work permit, you can choose from two following options for your company:

  • An Investment Permit
  • An endorsement to hire foreign workers from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

Otherwise, for companies already operating under the MSEZL, they can apply at the zone’s One Stop Service Center (OSSC).

The information on the process and documents to be submitted are here, and visit the employment guide for more information on eligibility requirements. If you need any help with the paperwork or any leg help, you can always reach out to our team in Yangon.

Company Registration: The requirements for registering a company in Yangon is here where you can find all the up-to-date information and registration process form.

Cost of Living: The average cost of living in Yangon is relatively cheap.

Venture Capitals: Like much of the economy, Myanmar’s start-up scene is supported by international donors, development programmes and venture capital.

  1. DSH Ventures is a global syndicate created for the sole purpose of helping entrepreneurs receive better access to funding, while helping to cultivate a network of entrepreneurial growth.
  2. Phandeeyar invests in local technology startups, trains new entrepreneurs and builds the pool of tech talent.
  3. Emerging Market Entrepreneurs (EME) Asia is an early stage venture capital firm founded to spur sustainable growth in one of Asia’s last frontier markets.
  4. BOD Tech Ventures invests in early stage startups
  5. SeedMyanmar invests in disruptive and innovative technologies helping Myanmar make the leap into the digital economy.
  6. Luminate, a global philanthropic organisation funding local ventures like Phandeeyar and various initiatives.
  7. Yangon Capital Partners invests in any Myanmar companies needing funding help in achieving their growth objectives.
  8. 500 Startups is the most active global venture capital firm of 2019 invested in Myanmar startups.
  9. Frontier Digital Investments invests in businesses aiming for growth in the online marketplace has also invested in Myanmar Startups.

Famous Startups of Yangon:

Check out the following local startups:

  1. Expa is a unified solution for sales, marketing and customer support.
  2. RecyGlo is a waste management and recycling platform with a mission to process materials in a safe, non-hazardous manner.
  3. Dinger provides a unified payment solution to accept payment at a fingertip.
  4. MM Digital Solutions provides digital solutions to improve efficiency and reduce cost for your business.
  5. Mote Poh is a financial and medical services to help your employees save money, respond to emergencies, and plan for the future
  6. MMTutors is an online platform that bridges students with tutors for various learning purposes such as K12 academia, languages, vocational skill sets and lifestyle.
  7. Shwe Bite, literally translated as Golden Bite, delivers home-cooked foods to the customers.
  8. Klenic is a tech startup specializing in SAAS (Software As A Service) with the aim of digitizing Myanmar clinics.

Startup Training Providers:

At Draper Startup House in Yangon, we provide startup training, and online services where you can either choose Yangon or any of our locations to learn and stay with us.

Other training providers you can seek help from are:

  1. Phandeeyar helps in building your startup in the dynamic region of Southeast Asia.
  2. One to watch offers a 100 days accelerator programme, training, and mentorship for tech and non-tech startups.
  3. Impact Hub Yangon is an innovation lab, a business Incubator, a social enterprise community center
  4. Samsung’s Tech Institute offers training programmes in alliance with Myanmar government universities for over 800 local students and also open to international talents.
  5. SIYB provides training programs for potential entrepreneurs interested in growing or learning how to grow their business.

Or you can also learn with us in Draper Startup House, we provide training courses on entrepreneurship where you can choose any of our locations despite Yangon.

Co-working spaces:

Draper Startup House Singapore is our shared coworking space, providing a perfect environment for entrepreneurs to learn, connect, and of course, get work done.

Other spaces that are considered to be popular in Yangon are: Phandeeyar, Zayat, and Impact Hub Yangon. Followed by Kloud and Hintha Business Centres.

Events & Community:

Draper Startup House in Yangon is hosting events regularly such as speed dating, online workshops like fun board games, storytelling, public speaking, and much more. Always check out the DSH Yangon socials here Facebook and Instagram for upcoming events. Also check out Phandeeyar Events, eventbrite, and meetups for all the past and future events.

EXPLORE YANGON BEST ATTRACTIONS

Traveling to Yangon is not about seeing fancy buildings or the famous things to do, it’s more about experiencing the city, the values, the culture, the things that happen along the streets and within the nooks and crannies. After all, Yangon is full of colour, chaos, hustle and heat, and home to some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.

Here is the Top-8 list of Must Do’s in Yangon:

  1. Shwedagon Pagoda, the iconic symbols and most important religious site of Yangon. | Open hours: 4am-10pm, check website for details.
  2. Kandawgyi Park, one of the lush green lake parks in Yangon with wooden boardwalks made for morning sports like jogging, Chi Gong and so on. Accompanied by numerous restaurants, including popular ones like the Signature Fine Dining, and the Karaweik Palace. | Open hours: 4am-10pm daily
  3. Bogyoke Aung San Market is a major bazaar located in the central district of Yangon city, and was built during the British colonial period in 1926. | Open hours: 9am-5:30pm except Mondays
  4. St. Mary Cathedral is a 100 years old church built during British Colonial period | Open hours: 6am-6:pm daily
  5. Chaukhtatgyi Paya, also known as Reclining Buddha housed in a giant metal shed. The Buddha image is 66 metres long, and one of the largest in Burma. | Open hours: 24 hour daily
  6. Bogyoke Aung San Museum is the whole two-storey building dedicated to General Aung San, the founder of Myanmar. | Open hours: 9am-4:30pm except Mondays
  7. The Taukkyan War Cemetery is a cemetery for 6,000 allied soldiers who died during World War 2. | Open hours: 7am-5pm daily
  8. Want to experience more of the local city? Go for a 2.5-hour Burmese Night Market walking tour.

Food: Yangon, Myanmar is a food paradise for any tourist and here are the popular restaurants you must try:

And, of course don’t forget to check out Draper Startup House Startup Cafe— the first startup cafe in Yangon.

For more options visit here.

THE HOME FOR ENTREPRENEURS

DRAPER STARTUP HOUSE in Yangon provides you with the best opportunity to explore, engage, and connect with people who are creating the future, including yourself! Stay in the heart of downtown Yangon in a beautiful 1950s colonial building and witness a beautiful city transition from an era of the past and into the information superhighway of the future. Our living spaces and shared co-workspaces provide the perfect environment for entrepreneurs and independent minds to be inspired, to learn from each other and get work done.

We believe entrepreneurship will be the most powerful tool for Myanmar to grow its economic well being. When you are ready – Come stay with us to join the network of the larger entrepreneurial community. The only all-in-one accommodation for resource-building through learning, co-working, funding, and much more—-let’s GO BIG, pay it forward, and drive progress!

Main lobby of Draper Startup House in Yangon

If you are raising funds and are ready to take your business to the next level, please apply below


Why Choose Us

What Draper Startup House means to you:

  1. Access to opportunity
  2. Involvement in community + support quickly — Draper Startup House Yangon has everything to take care of your needs: from meetups and networking sessions, to pointing you to the best food in the heart of the city, or connecting you to the relevant business partners, and much more.
  3. Meeting your capital requirements
  4. Efficiency in paperwork approvals (while some places take months for processing, Singapore’s efficiency is up to speed here where incorporating a company can be as quickly done so in a day
  5. Govt. stability + transparency → gateway to SEA

If you have any questions feel free to reach out at yangon@draperstartuphouse.com.

The Draper Starup House team in Yangon, Myanmar

COME JOIN US IN BUILDING A NETWORK AND COMMUNITY OF GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURS

We hope you find this blog post insightful, and if you do, please share it with anyone who you think might be interested and useful for their goals! Our blog post is created to educate and improve business opportunities for many entrepreneurs like yourself who want to make use of their best time in one of the booming startup cities like Yangon.

We can’t wait to be part of your mission-driven future or in helping you to shape one 👋

JOIN DEN

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