The U.S. Government supports efforts to set a high standard for responsible business conduct in Burma and believes that this will have long-lasting positive impacts for both U.S. business and the Burmese people. Through the U.S. Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements, U.S. companies making significant investments in Burma must be fully transparent about payments made to the government and about how they respect human rights in their business operations. U.S. Companies have committed a total of approximately $612 million in foreign investment in Burma since July 2012.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The U.S. Government is encouraging responsible investment in Burma as part of an overall strategy to support development, improve the quality of life of standard of living of Burmese people. Consequently, U.S. companies are not only seeking investment opportunities in Burma but actively engaging local communities to support broad-based development. They are investing millions of dollars in microfinance for rural citizens, developing women entrepreneurs, training engineers and managers, offering apprenticeship opportunities to youth, and providing tens of millions of gallons of clean water to those without access to potable water. Established in October 2013, the American Chamber of Commerce Myanmar chapter principles include: compliance with national laws; respect for the individual and dignity of workers; provision of training and education for employees; adherence to environmentally responsible practices; and the promotion of high standards of professionalism and business ethics.
Just a sample of U.S. companies’ contributions to Burma through their CSR projects is listed below:
- Cisco’s Network Academies train students on critical information technology and networking skills. The academies train instructors in Cisco Career certification and continuing training on new curricula. Course content will be incorporated into the curriculum of the University of Computer Science’s twenty five branches.
- Proctor & Gamble has committed $2 million to provide clean drinking water, promote better hygiene behaviors, and build capacity to deliver imported health services. Since 2011, P&G and its NGO partners have provided 45 million of liters of clean drinking water to families affected by floods, droughts or chronic water scarcity across the country.
- Coca-Cola’s $200 million investment will create more than 22,000 jobs across the entire value chain by 2018. The Coca-Cola Foundation is working with Pact, a respected NGO, to implement Swan-Yi, a three-year program to empower nearly 25,000 women, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business management.
- As GE entered Burma, the GE Foundation announced a $7 million commitment to support broad training and capacity-building efforts to strengthen Healthcare, Energy Infrastructure, Leadership Development and Rule-of-Law. As part of this commitment, the GE Foundation will expand its ‘Developing Health Globally’ program in the ASEAN region, with $3 million in new funding to include Burma.
- MasterCard and Mercy Corps have partnered to provide business and financial literacy skills to women and small businesses in Burma. With MasterCard’s support, Mercy Corps implemented a business literacy program in 2013 to educate small farmers and households on basic business skills and money management practices. The program has now been expanded to provide targeted services to women entrepreneurs in the Irrawaddy Delta region.
- Caterpillar’s dealer, Myan Shwe Pyi Tractors, runs a technical apprenticeship program at no-cost for economically disadvantaged high school graduates who cannot afford a university education. It is also a long-standing supporter of Helen Keller International’s efforts to prevent blindness in Burma. The Caterpillar Foundation has also invested $100,000 in Burma to support the design and delivery of innovative products that can raise rural incomes.
- The Abbott Fund, the foundation of the global health care company Abbott, has provided the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Fund for Women and Girls with $1 million to support grassroots organizations that are working to advance health, education, and economic opportunity for women in Burma.
- Ford and its partners contributed $80,000 to construct an education center for children who study at a monastery just outside Rangoon. The funds were donated as part of Ford’s inaugural Community Grants Program in Burma.
- U.S. insurer ACE Group has provided $600,000 in support for malaria prevention and the development of safe water, sanitation and hygiene networks in three refugee camps on the Burma/Thailand border. It has also provided a grant of $300,000 to train and certify Burmese refugees in camps on the border to become health care workers.
- Chevron’s Sustainable Health Improvement and Empowerment (SHINE) program has directly improved the lives of nearly one million Burmese in almost 1,500 villages since 2003 through Village Health and Development Funds that provide villagers with grants and loans for improvements in business, health, agricultural practices and infrastructure.
- RMA Group is participating in a countrywide road safety campaign and invests in the quality education of its workforce as a primary mission. It has created more than 400 jobs locally and anticipates doubling that in 2014.
- Hewlett Packard (HP) has launched its Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (LIFE), an online business and information technology program. HP has established two of 12 planned HP LIFE centers, equipped with computers, learning solutions and internet to enable access to HP LIFE e-Learning by entrepreneurs.
- Gap Inc. is partnering with CARE International to deliver its award-winning women’s advancement program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement), in the factories in which it does business. P.A.C.E. promotes the advancement of female garment workers by providing life skills education and technical training.
- Colgate-Palmolive is providing oral health education to schoolchildren though its “Bright Smiles, Bright Futures” program, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. It also partners with Burma’s major dental association, sponsoring free dental check-ups as part of Oral Health Month.
- Western Union (WU) and its partners are sponsoring an International Organization for Migration (IOM) program aimed at promoting awareness among potential Burmese migrant workers about safe migration. The Western Union Foundation is matching all funds raised by WU’s partner banks. In addition to a $62,000 grant to IOM, the foundation has pledged $24,000 to build a library and computer center at a rural high school near Rangoon.
- The Myanma Computer Company (MCC) has formed a strategic alliance with Microsoft that will see 100,000 people trained and equipped with workforce-ready IT skills over the next three years. Under the alliance, the MCC will offer new programs in cloud computing and other emerging technologies.
- Covidien is committed to helping provide clinical education for healthcare professionals in Burma in order to improve patient care. It is working with the country’s surgical society and several medical universities throughout Burma to conduct basic surgical workshops for post-graduate students. Covidien is also facilitating workshops for Burmese clinicians in advanced surgical procedures focused on colorectal and gastric surgery.
- PepsiCo is partnering with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Ministry of Education to develop vocational training initiatives. This partnership will establish a Center of Excellence for Business Skills Development at Yangon Institute of Economics and create curricula and training materials to help youth entering the workforce. PepsiCo is also exploring opportunities to invest in agricultural development projects.
U.S. companies interested in doing business in Burma may refer to resources available at www.export.gov.
Visit the American Chamber of Commerce at www.amchamthailand.com/myanmar.
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