Proximity Designs: Kiva’s First Field Partner in Myanmar

A bit about Myanmar…
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia, but it has seen major political and economic reforms in recent years that have many hopeful for a brighter future. For decades Myanmar was controlled by authoritative leadership that committed gross human rights violations. Myanmar’s people have lived through much oppression, but progress in this young democracy is being made to ensure human rights and develop transparency in governance. The next test of this will be the 2015 elections.

Proximity Designs is a non-profit social enterprise doing its part to expand opportunities for farmers in the context of an evolving country. Agriculture is the main industry in Myanmar and employs 65% of the labor force. Proximity Designs offers group loans to finance the purchase of irrigation equipment, seeds, tools and labor. Communities of farmers join together to take out a loan and share in the responsibility of paying it back.

Photo Courtesy of Proximity Designs

It’s a loan suited to farmers. One of the challenges farmers face when taking out a loan is uneven cash flow. Farmers don’t have a steady monthly income but rather experience a spike in their income during harvest season. This makes it hard for them to make monthly loan repayments. Proximity Designs addresses this problem by allowing farmers to wait until harvest season to pay back their loans in one lump sum.

Photo Courtesy of Proximity Designs

Numbers that tell the story:

  • So far the organization has had a direct impact on almost half a million people in Myanmar
  • Proximity has helped raise each family's income by an average of $300
  • Their services reach over 10,000 villages across Myanmar.
Graphic Last Updated January 2013

If numbers aren’t enough…listen to the borrowers

“The work came at exactly the right time, any longer and we would have been in so much trouble. I was scared, but I feel brave again now.” –Daw Htwe Kyi & U Tin Oo Ma Kyee Kan Village

“Now we have the road [constructed by Proximity], we don’t feel so isolated. Finally, we exist!” - Daw Yin Yin Oo

Representatives of Min Kan Village

Min Kan Village is located in Myanmar’s dry zone. Farms in the village often suffer from insufficient rainfall. 44 villagers are seeking a loan that will pay for farming inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and equipment that will increase their crop yields. Help Min Kan Village grow their farms!

Representatives of Zee Pin Kan Village

A group of 92 community members in Zee Pin Kan Village are seeking a loan to buy crop inputs. U Aye (pictured above to the far left) is the father of a small child who he supports through profits from farming. He used his last loan to buy two goats and plans to use this next one to by fertilizer that will produce higher quality peanut and bean crops. Help 92 villagers improve their crops. 

Myanmar depends on small farmers to sustain its economy. Be a part of Myanmar’s transition into a time of peace and prosperity. Make a loan today!

About the author

Audra Wingard

Audra just graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and Education. She was first introduced to microloans during a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico where she toured a group of small businesses local women had started using microloans. She was inspired by the excitement these women had about their businesses and the successful profits they were already gaining from them. Audra wants to work for Kiva and help motivated people overcome financial obstacles and achieve their dreams. During her time at UC Berkeley she volunteered in a number of schools and education programs in Oakland and San Francisco and loves to work with kids. She plans to go to graduate school for International Educational Development. and hopes to eventually work internationally to help increase access to education.