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    Entries in yangon (12)


    Harder, Faster: Robot Farmers for Quality Products

    To make sure our products can take the strain of life in rural Myanmar, we test them to breaking point in our labs first. Not a pump, water basket or drip kit leaves for a farmer's field without first passing the rigorous testing our robot farmers inflict on them. 



    The Full Moon of Tabaung

    U Tun Lwin Naung, our sales manager in the Delta, visits our Yangon office to give a presentation about increased sales.

    A young boy parading the village right before he enters novice hood.

     Someone seems to be enjoying our waiting room. 

    We met this gentleman when the media team went to Pyapone to do some interviews. A d.light customer, he talked about the impact solar lighting has had in his village this year.  

    Proximity's finance team discussing changes to loan contracts.  

    The chicken sellers of Bogale.

    With operations expanding, we're hiring more staff. Here, Ko Kyaw Zeya and Ko Zaw Zaw plan a new seating plan for the Yangon office.

    A farmer in the Delta on the way to his field.  

    The Pyit Taing Taung water tank fabric awaits stitching in the manufacturing lab.

    The Sin Pauk assembly line. Hundreds of pumps are put together each month for shipping out to farmers.


    One Two Three, One Two Three

    U Tin Saw has been a tri-shaw rider for 46 years.  In his younger days he worked as a civil servant, overseeing security at his local market in Bahan township, Yangon.  Often, as an escape from the stress of his job, he chewed betel nut and drank alcohol.

    When he started riding tri-shaws part-time he found it liberated him from the stress.  He was his own boss and he felt healthier.  He gave up the betel and the booze and he saved his money instead. 

    Now, at the age of 66, he owns four tri-shaws and a modest home for his family of 5.  He no longer ferries passengers around, but he still rides his tri-shaw everywhere to keep himself fit and strong.
    A true entrepreneur, U Tin Saw has inspired us to champion him and others like him in a series of stories and portraits of traditional Burmese trades.  We start with the tri-shaw riders of Yangon but look out for the acrobatic ferris-wheel pilots, ubiquitous betel sellers and dextrous cheroot rollers coming soon...




    The Masterminds

    Our workshop is in Yangon. Except that it's not really in Yangon. At least not in the city sense of the word. To get there you pass water buffalos, rice fields, goatherds, decrepit abandoned trucks and tree-swallowed school buses. If it weren't for the animals you'd think you were in a ghost town, therefore (if you believe what the movies tell you) it's the perfect setting for mad genius to take place.

    And here are the incredible designers and engineers responsible. Let's take a moment to appreciate them and their genius in creating the products that change the lives of so many Myanmar rural families. 


    10 days to launch: The Proximity School

    U Myat Aung is standing at the front of a classroom waxing lyrical about the virtues of the humble paperclip. As he enthusiastically lists the many, unexplored uses of the object, his audience holds their sides to control their laughter. Having convinced the panel, and his fellow classmates of it’s worth, he returns to his seat, and another enterprising man, this time wielding an elastic band, takes the stage.

    This is not your average Myanmar classroom scene. But it is a classroom in Myanmar. The activity forms part of a “sales and marketing” workshop, one of 78 workshops that make up the syllabus for our annual Proximity School. Some of the others are data analysis, leadership, customer service and area management; classes that typically induce yawns in their attendees but here they’re delivered with a twist. Creativity, colorful post-its, teamwork and brainstorming are the order of the day.

    Inspired by the creative teaching styles of leading graduate design schools, and the “corporate universities” of top international for-profit organizations, the School, now in its 4th year, is attended by over 280 field staff from all over the country. Lasting for one month in total, each team (infrastructure, sales, FAS and management) comes to Yangon for one intense week of classes before the start of the new season. The emphasis is on gaining practical, relevant knowledge that will have a tangible impact on their work when they’re back in the field. It’s the kind of vocational learning that’s hard to come by in Myanmar but, with the imminent nationwide launch of several new irrigation products, our solar light range, a new credit initiative and a line of paperclips* this kind of training is vital to our success in the coming season.

     *We’re not actually selling paperclips. But we could.