Yangon Bakehouse: A Social Enterprise in Myanmar
Based in 2017, the case describes the entrepreneurial journey of a social enterprise (SE), Yangon Bakehouse (YBH), in Myanmar. Established in 2012, YBH’s primary objective was to address the socio-economic development issues of disadvantaged women in Myanmar. The enterprise was based on a self-sustaining model, and ran a revenue-generating restaurant and catering business to help support its social mission.
YBH recruited minimally educated women who lacked stable income for a seven-month multiskilling training programme that provided culinary skills for employability, and life skills related to healthcare and financial decision-making. The apprentices were also assisted in securing placement across cafes, restaurants and bakeries. The restaurant and catering business served a dual purpose by providing on-the-job training in a practical setting, and generating income to sustain the training program.
The enterprise was a success, and by 2017, YBH had managed to train and place 91 women. Additionally, it ran two kiosks, one café, a centralised kitchen, a training centre and an office. However, sustaining this growth was proving to be a challenge given the highly skewed real estate market, restrictive loan policies, and lack of legal recognition of SEs in Myanmar. Furthermore, with three of its four partners’ being expatriates, the longevity of the enterprise was under question. Would YBH be able to transition to local leadership and management? Most importantly, would the social enterprise model continue to be relevant in the changing Myanmar?
Through the discussion of this case, students will understand how the business model of a SE differs from other social ventures; learn about the challenges faced in growing its operations; and discuss how financial sustainability can be balanced with its social and financial missions. They will get the opportunity to analyse the role of innovative financial restructuring and social impact partnerships in order to attract investments and donations.
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