Three years after Myanmar liberalised its economy, a wave of companies from the Republic is flocking to the rapidly developing South-east Asian country – setting up upmarket pre-school centers, swanky bars and eateries, as well as building posh condominiums.
Quaich Bar and the Whisky Store, the Les Amis Group, as well as pre-school operator Modern Montessori were among the Singapore firms that have set up shop in Myanmar in the past 18 months, with the aim of cashing in on a growing middle class and the general population’s rising affluence. These latest entrants to the Myanmar market are following in the footsteps of big players, including construction and property firms such as Surbana, Soilbuild and Tiong Aik, that moved in to jostle for business deals in the first wave, when the country was looking to build its physical infrastructure.
A distinguishing feature of the second wave of Singapore companies moving into Myanmar is their decidedly lifestyle bent: They offer food and beverage, education and lifestyle services, all of which are attracting the swelling ranks of a growing middle-class that is on the move and in search of places and products to spend their new-found wealth on. Its growing middle class has bolstered sales of non-essential products, such as beauty and personal care as well as tissue and home-care products.
With more than five million people and its status as a commercial centre, Yangon is a popular starting point for companies venturing into Myanmar. Singapore companies have made good inroads in the areas of urban development, connectivity and finance. If reforms continue to stay on track, Myanmar has the potential to realise its aspirations of becoming a middle-income economy.