Going from 1 per cent of internet access six years ago to what Myanmar is today (Ericsson’s 2015 reports stated that the country has the fourth fastest growing smartphone ownership), Myanmar has kept a pace and managed to be home to many emerging startups that have yet to find the spotlight. Since it opened doors in 2011 to foreign operators, there are burgeoning opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to grab the market.
However, just like the case of other developing countries, even with the exciting economic possibilities, untapped potentials including those who are “at the bottom of the pyramid” are still excluded from the equation. To learn how these gaps are being addressed, e27 talked to Nyein Chan Soe Win, CEO and co-founder of Get, the digital commerce platform that empowers microentrepreneurs with technology to lift them off of the bottom of the pyramid and equip them with competing skills in the future.
To fulfill its mission, Get built the digital economy infrastructure to bring up the livelihood of people through economic inclusion. So far, the two products that have been launched included Get Digital Store, which helps users to become micro-entrepreneurs with its Point of Sale Machine, and Get Ride, a commission-free community-based ride-hailing network launched just within this month.
Micro SMEs are the backbone of Myanmar
Get sure knows a thing or two about how important SME to contribute to country’s economic growth. With Chan’s three-year stint as Country Manager at 2C2P Singapore, combined with his co-founder Mike Than Tun Win’s success in building Myanmar online travel agency FlyMya, both learned that Myanmar has a relatively limited e-commerce access besides those that sell airlines ticket and travel startups.
“I believe there needs to be e-commerce that facilitates microentrepreneurs, those who identify as SMEs, for them to be able to expand their market in digital world as it will provide them with more growth opportunities with the Online-to-Offline (O2O) model,” said Chan.
Vendors that can use Get’s services include products and services from air and bus tickets to hotels, tours, and mobile top-ups. “The purpose of Get Digital Store is to build the economic foundation in Myanmar with technology, while bringing efficiency and availability of various logistic services to every corner of streets,” said Chan.
As of now, Get Digital Store has hosted about 1,000 agents O2O.
Championing community with Get Ride
Initially, with their recently launched ride-hailing service Get Ride, the company wanted to connect taxi drivers with passengers. But then it saw the opportunity within a larger driver community, and now Get Ride is community-focused app.
During its beta testing period, Get Ride reportedly has about 10,000 customers with full operation in Mandalay.
“Our key value is our ride-hailing operation is community based. We don’t look for high incentive or excessive promotion so we would have a long term sustainability and as a result, become more stable down the road,” said Chan about the company’s decision not to charge fees from drivers.
The self-funded company stressed on the impact their company has been experiencing choosing the community route. “We feel the love of the community and we have a strong relationship with the drivers. We started off with motorbike-only service, and now we move to three-wheelers vehicle, which was upgraded for the drivers to own it as their asset,” added Chan.
Partnering with local financial institutions, Get was able to improve the livelihood of its drivers by endorsing them to acquire tuk-tuks, the three-wheeled vehicles, to use as a Get Ride driver.
A long journey ahead
For Get, the focus now is to complete the beta-testing phase in two other cities in Myanmar, Yangon and Monywa. They also have target to at least being present in one new city every month, that by the end of 2019, they have covered all second-tier cities in Myanmar.
Furthermore, they plan on bringing their customers the easiness of having their everyday need accessible under one platform, that will include food delivery, groceries shopping, and mobile data top-up.
The twist in their long journey ahead is that the team plans on launching a blockchain identity technology for their users that will enable a blockchain-based wallet.
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“Currently, we are helping the government to develop blockchain-based taxi registration system for the driver as a part of Mandalay city development committee,” explained Chan.
On working with government as part of their next strategy, Chan stressed that it is a comfortable option because of how the legal structure is always behind the innovation.
An optimistic company for a promising land of innovation is what Get is. All in all, their journey is all about what the founders love the most: the people of their country, and it sure is reflected in their uplifting mission.