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Myanmar’s social entrepreneurs building new connections

Amara Aung is the co-founder of Myanmar dairy production company Tandem.

Tandem is a social enterprise focusing on producing nutritious and healthy food products to improve the health and wellbeing of families. Tandem cultivates consumers’ awareness of safe food consumption, encourages healthy eating habits and provides technical knowledge to manufacturers.

According to Amara, “The problem we have found in people of Myanmar either in urban or rural population is lack of food safety.

This leads to deterioration of health and wellness in the country. Babies are born unhealthy and underweight. Children are malnourished. These problems arise from having limited choices of food and nutrition.

Choosing good dietary habits will be the optimum solution to better health and awareness of our people. Prevention is always better than cure.”

According to Amara, “We are entrepreneurs in introducing milk, yoghurt and dairy products to become one of the staples included in daily meals. People in Myanmar often see dairy and dairy products just as an appetizer or a dessert drink and some even totally avoid it due to false conceptions.

So our solution is to provide varieties of quality dairy products while educating on their uses and benefits to cultivate safe and healthy dietary habits”.

This year Amara was part of the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program (A2ELP) which selected a group of 15 young social entrepreneurs to undertake a three-month leadership program on the theme of Smart Cities.

The program was delivered by Asialink at the University of Melbourne with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia-ASEAN Council and Australia Now.

In Ho Chi Minh City, participants heard about Vietnam’s challenges including in food security, mobility, employment and infrastructure. In Singapore, participants looked at the future of cities and how to build resilience, including through mobilising and engaging communities. In Jakarta, Qlue Smart City showed how technology, data analysis and collaborative governance can create real change in a dynamic urban environment.

Amara said the experience was both interesting and overwhelming: “I've got a great chance to witness social entrepreneurs, startups and government agencies on what those cities have been doing in the name of Smart Cities. I was very much impressed by how they collaborate with each other on their country’s social problems.”

Looking ahead, Amara is thinking big. “Our future goal is to establish a dairy farm where we’ll base a factory for production of varieties of dairy products and initiate farm tourism which is yet to be popular and marketable in Myanmar.

Our objective is to educate people on the importance of food safety by letting them be involved and witness the whole food supply chain from farm to table.”

Through the A2ELP, Asialink at the University of Melbourne is helping build greater connections between inspiring young people like Amara and other social entrepreneurs across the region.

by Melissa Conley Tyler

Director of Diplomacy, Asialink at the University of Melbourne. For a full list of A2ELP participants see here.

If you would like more information about this program please let us know.

Image credit: Two Gongs Media @twogongs

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