Promoting inclusion of Myanmar small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry

This partnership will design and establish a Tourism Business Investment Platform.

The Platform will be a market and business advisory service and low-interest investment fund combining business planning with seed/growth funding for Myanmar small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector. 

The partnership will provide funding and skills development to SMEs to boost the economic growth potential of responsible tourism. Investing in this undersupplied but rapidly growing market will have wider development impact through tourism’s ability to target communities and marginalised groups.

Progress update

January 2018

The initiative’s Sustainable Tourism Hub training program opened for submissions. A total of 98 applications were received from SMEs and entrepreneurs in Yangon. The shortlisted applicants were narrowed down to 15 who pitched ideas at an innovation workshop. A final 10 were selected to develop a tourism product or service to enter the market in 2018. The partners approached financial institutions to support the businesses through loans, financial and business advice.

Key activities

  • The Sustainable Tourism Hub’s training program opened and received 98 applications. These were shortlisted to 30, with 28 applicants finishing training and 22 submitting a business plan. Of these, 15 pitched their ideas at an innovation workshop, with 10 finalists selected and supported to develop a tourism product or service due to enter the market in 2018.
  • An International Labour Organisation (ILO) certified trainer delivered tourism-specific training modules to the SMEs and entrepreneurs. This training, from the ILO Improve Your Business (Tourism) program, included work culture, managing employees, marketing, stock control, supplier relations, costing, business planning and record keeping.
  • Partners identified and approached Myanmar banks who could partner with the Sustainable Tourism Hub to provide loans of USD 5,000 to USD 50,000, as well as ongoing business and financial literacy advice.

July 2017

The partnership has seen AVI and Intrepid form a Project Working Group to deliver a sustainable tourism hub in Yangon. A local project coordinator has also been recruited. Several partnership workshops have been held to plan and implement the training of the selected small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Key activities

  • Detailed research to identify the supply and demand of tourism services in Myanmar was undertaken in December 2016.
  • An information session for interested SMEs was held in Yangon to provide information about how the hub will organise training and provide support to the SMEs.
  • Selection criteria have been developed to select the SMEs that will be supported to work on their tourism ideas.

Partnership aims

  • Deliver an investment facility investing in socially and environmentally responsible SMEs in tourism, with low-interest loans in conjunction with business planning and support. 
  • Provide an online public platform for sourcing grants, investment funds and business expertise, including from tourism industry engagement.
  • Enable ongoing business development services that securely and transparently manage loan approval, funds transfer and matching identified needs with expertise.  


Private sector funding


DFAT funding


Total Value



Start date: January 2017

End date: January 2019

Industry sector

Economic Growth


This partnership will promote inclusive economic growth by enabling the establishment and sustainable growth of SMEs to deliver Sustainable Experience Rich Travel (SERT) products to capitalise on the increasing demand of the Myanmar tourism market. Underpinning the approach is capacity building, a financially sustainable tourism business investment platform, and a growing alliance of partners, together with support for greater gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Shared value

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. It is a business strategy focused on companies creating measurable economic benefit by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue.

The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development
AVI wheelchair team sport

Reconceiving products or/and markets

The product is Sustainable-Experience-Rich-Travel (SERT) activity for the growing Myanmar market. The product will be developed via three elements:

(1) The Platform – a central coordinating facility, between clients (SMEs, social entrepreneurs, individuals) in developing countries and the alliance of partners/individuals who support their development.

(2) Clients – support available for clients will include business skills training, legal advice, practical tourism capacity building skills, market expertise and small loans to establish and grow their businesses.

(3) An Alliance of Partners – like-minded companies engaging in different ways, from contributing funding (via tiered membership fees) to committing their skills and time.

AVI staff in joyful celebration

Enabling local cluster development

This project builds capacity of new and larger suppliers of SERT products for the tourism market, encouraging SMEs, including community enterprises and women's empowerment.

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

All activities will promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. This will be reflected in the selection process for the clients the Platform will support, as well as ensuring gender is taken into consideration throughout the Platform’s operating systems, training programs, and those of any partner organisations.

Partner information

The partnership is between Australian Volunteers International (AVI), Intrepid Group and DFAT.

Australian Volunteers International (AVI)

AVI staff at handbasin  

AVI logo 

AVI is an Australian, not-for-profit organisation committed to achieving economic and social development outcomes across Asia, the Pacific and the world. AVI invites change and connects people to bring about change by sharing their skills, knowledge and experience through international pathways and networks. AVI combines extensive cross-sector networks with an evidence-based approach, which contributes to economic, social and environmental change for communities in the region and beyond. AVI supports and co-designs locally driven initiatives that help stimulate sustained outcomes, rewarding relationships between Australians and their international peers.

Intrepid Group

AVI two mountain climbers celebrating beside prayer flags  

Intrepid group 

The Intrepid Group is the world’s largest provider of adventure travel experiences. Over its 37 years of operation, the company has adhered to a socially and environmentally responsible ethos. The partnership advances Intrepid’s interests by ensuring a stronger supply of quality, smallscale partners to satisfy unmet customer demand for sustainable, local experiences beyond major tourist sites. The proposed model strongly demonstrates and promotes the company’s responsible tourism and shared value business operations. It is an innovative channel for long-term and deeper engagement with the company’s socially-engaged customer base. The initial support offered through the BPP means the model can be tested and refined before replication in other markets and destinations.

Last Updated: 30 January 2018