“I thought I knew what business is. But through this business coaching session, I’ve discovered so much,” says Su Nge Aung, a business owner in Myanmar. This July, Su Nge and her sister, Mercy Aung, completed a business coaching session with the Partners Worldwide volunteer Business Affiliate (BA) team member and our local partner, Mandalay Christian Business Fellowship (MCBF).
“I was invited by my sister, Mercy, and joined Mandalay Christian Business Fellowship when it was first forming last year,” says Su Nge. “Once I went there, I felt that, wherever I am, it all belongs to God. Even if it’s simply meeting with other entrepreneurs, it’s God’s calling to participate.”
Christians comprise 6.2% of the 54 million people of Myanmar—a nation newly opening to more international trade yet known for minority persecution and numerous civil wars that have continued for decades.
The members of MCBF have a passion for serving their community through their businesses and share a vision for change in the city of Mandalay.
Su Nge and Mercy run Celia Hostel Mandalay, their family-owned hostel that serves the growing number of tourists visiting central Myanmar. They joined MCBF, a small network of Christian business owners who began to gather in 2018 after being inspired by the Partners Worldwide vision and model. Over the past year, a Partners Worldwide Business Affiliate team of four professionals from Singapore and the United States has regularly visited MCBF. The BA team has also provided business workshops based on their areas of expertise.
For example, this July, a strategic marketing workshop was led by team member Spencer Chan, a professional with an international career in marketing who now teaches courses at one of the top business schools in Singapore. This workshop was the official launch of intensive business coaching that will be provided to three businesses—including Su Nge and Mercy’s hostel—which were selected by their peers within MCBF to participate in this opportunity.
“Yesterday’s training was a good way to tighten our business strategy,” says Mercy. The workshop, led by Spencer, was the starting point for a 6-month phase of in-depth coaching they’ll do with the BA team.
The first step is the business audit which each entrepreneur is completing this month: a deep dive on customer analysis, competitor analysis, and internal company analysis.
Based on what they learned in the workshop, they will first identify the “symptoms” in these areas, then more accurately assess and “diagnose” their own business’ challenges, and, with the help of the BA team, better “prescribe” the right series of adjustments to meet market needs and to track and ensure the long-term health of the business—just as a medical professional would do with a patient.
Behind the scenes, Su Nge and all elected leaders have been contributing their time voluntarily to help MCBF launch and gain momentum to equip this emerging network through the business training and mentoring with Partners Worldwide. She has been elected as MCBF’s advisory board secretary and felt compelled to serve when asked to be the communicator to the Partners Worldwide staff and BA team of mentors. Speaking English has made her a critical liaison for the BA team from Singapore and the United States, who do not speak Burmese, and the business owners, most of whom do not speak English fluently.
But gaining momentum requires a commitment of time and talent, especially as this small network of entrepreneurs in Mandalay tries to grow and impact its community.
Business can be done alone, but it’s better to do so with others.
“At first, we all felt the fire of God in our MCBF network meetings,” says Su Nge, when Spencer asked each one to speak their hope for the future of MCBF. “It’s not easy, and keeping the inertia going is hard, as we are all managing businesses and very busy, and it’s easy to be discouraged.
"But today’s business workshop is like the Holy Spirit speaking, and we are ready to join hands and move forward together.”