Jun 1, 2017

Lack of Access to Finance ‘Biggest Challenge’ for Tech Industry

Opening up the banking sector should be a top priority for the govern­ment if it wants to address the challenges facing the nascent tech industry, the founder of Myanmar’s most well-known start-up innovation lab has said.

While most industries in Myanmar face the same problems that the tech in­dustry is grappling with, firms focussed on IT are often at the sharpest end of these challenges, said David Madden, founder and CEO of Phandeeyar.

“Access to financing is the biggest problem fac­ing all entrepreneurs in Myanmar,” he told the Oxford Business Group.

“There’s some real talent in the Myanmar start-up community, but it’s very hard for them to get that initial cheque they need to enable them to focus on building their own prod­ucts, rather than building apps and websites for cli­ents,” he added.

“In other countries, in­cluding elsewhere in the region, the tech ecosys­tem includes networks of investors, incubators and accelerators, and venture firms focused on early-stage companies.”

Beyond financing, the tech industry’s has bigger hurdles to overcome than most, Madden said.

“Finding talent is hard for everyone, but finding technical talent is espe­cially hard,” he said.

“Power cuts hurt eve­ryone, but they’re really painful when you need that power for IT equip­ment. Mobile phones might be enough for many small and medium-sized businesses, but tech start-ups need a fast, sta­ble connection, and the internet service provider market has been much slower to open up than the mobile operator mar­ket.”

Madden recommended that those involved in the tech industry “should look at examples both of existing solutions and of initiatives that failed. An important element of the digital leapfrog is that Myanmar doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel; it can build on the learning of others.

Source: Myanmar Business Today