Changing the world is never easy. Our current business system is flawed and a more sustainable system is needed. However, the current system is so rigidly ingrained that it’s extremely difficult to budge. Simply, there are too many barriers restricting our ability to adapt. You could say it’s pretty much moving at the same slow viscosity as Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup- and we all know how long that takes.
So now I think we need to start from a new angle. If we want to implement a sustainable business model, we need to start from scratch. In this case, it means starting with an undeveloped market where we can start institutionalizing a revised “business 2.0″ from day one. The good news is, there are dozens of countries with the wiggle room necessary to start enacting these reforms; however, I believe there is one looking a bit more poised than the rest.
Oh lovely Myanmar.
Being isolated for the past few decades has put Myanmar in a special circumstance. The mix of self-imposed isolation and international sanctions has left Myanmar relatively unspoiled by global commerce, meaning we now have a blank slate to work with. However, this also means that international companies are now looking towards the untapped nation just as eagerly. Myanmar holds a huge opportunity for investors; it’s potentially a large consumer market, it’s full of cheap labor and it holds an abundance of natural resources. Now that Myanmar is making the necessary moves to reopen itself to the world, many investors are viewing Myanmar as ripe for the picking.
So here we stand at a crossroads. We have the choice to either allow business-as-usual and watch as outside businesses move in to consume Myanmar’s resources and put the population into sweatshops; or we can empower the people build something better and more sustainable.
This is exactly what the recently founded project Sustainable Business Myanmar (SBM) hopes to promote in Myanmar. SBM rejects the notion that business should stay solely focused on profit. They believe that business 2.0 involves a triple bottom-line: people, planet, profit. SBM plans establishing this triple bottom-line approach through ongoing activities meant to educate and support entrepreneurs and businesses on sustainable business practices.
Two events are already set in motion for the kick-off of SBM:
The first events will occur on the weekend of June 15th in Yangon, Myanmar. The TEDx event and SBM Forum are both designed to inspire and educate entrepreneurs, businesses and government officials on sustainable business.
Other events in the pipeline include:
- SBM Social and Sustainable classes- will be set up to educate entrepreneurs on the logistics of starting up a socially oriented business.
- SBM Funding Challenge- will provide the best sustainable business ideas with funding and support.
If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, check out the SBM website for further information.
As mentioned earlier, this could be the turning point for business. If we can embed the triple bottom-line principal here and now then maybe we can copy and paste the same concept within other undeveloped nations around the world. Then we can watch the spread of business 2.0. You get the picture.
I hope one day we will be able to look at Myanmar as the place where it all started, where we were able to diverge onto another path. Maybe instead of referring to Myanmar as “Asia’s Last Frontier” we should instead talk of it as “The World’s New Beginning.”