Myanmar coffee shop owner leaves no one behind

23 June 2023
ITC News

For Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2023, we celebrate small entrepreneurs from all over the world. Small businesses account for 90% of the world's businesses, 60 to 70% of employment, and 50% of the global economy. They contribute to local and national economies and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tell us about yourself.

I am Ni Ni Htwe, CEO of Coffee Win Myanmar Company Limited, a family-owned business working throughout the coffee supply-chain, focusing on sustainable agriculture. We also work with 100 coffee farmers from Ywar Ngan, Shan State and Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region. We have been in the coffee industry for six years running a chain, which is Coffee Win. 

What are the challenges that you face or have faced as a small business?

Our coffee shops aim to provide affordable and quality coffee, tea and snacks in line with food safety standards. We work very hard on innovative products to satisfy Myanmar’s young customers.

While providing consistent and quality service, operation cost is hard to control as we need capacity building for product creation and increasing electricity and rental costs.   

We promoted our products at Mandalay international airport by providing food tasting but the COVID-19 pandemic affected our business with tourism coming to a halt during that time.

What are your needs to improve/ expand your business?

Investment in improvement of processing techniques and new equipment are necessary for product development, including herbal tea and ice-tea, a response to the healthy lifestyle trend among younger generation.

We also need to improve energy efficiency to become more competitive.

How have you found the support from ITC helpful?

With support from the European Union (EU) funded ARISE Plus Myanmar project, we had a chance to participate at World of Coffee, Milan.

Also, with Coffee Cupping trainings, we came to understand more about coffee quality and classification.

Coaching in marketing and branding has helped us attract more buyers.

What would you say has been your best success as a business so far?

We have been able to consistently provide quality products to our customers. This is the result of building a cohesive social contract with farmers in Myanmar – the traditional way. We are able to take care of those who work for us. Our company provides health care to our farmers when most needed. They feel they are part of the business.

With consistent quality and volume of supply, we have been able to attract young customers.

We were happy to have coffee buyers from Hong Kong and Japan visit our coffee shops. 

Your message to other small entrepreneurs

I would say the value of a business is determined, not through profitability, but through responsibility and innovation, which is also our commitment at our main family business company Taw Win KanBawZa Mountain, and at my company, Coffee Win.