Walking into an Ocean Tamwe Supercenter one Sunday, I was struck by an array of colorful and beautiful items stacked in the lobby’s mall, items unlike any other clothes and accessories in the shops there.
Recycled wallets, clothes and handmade objects filled the bazar, positioned next to the food court so as to lure all of the curious diners over. The buzzing atmosphere of the little weekend bazaar lifted the mall, but it also served another purpose: social enterprise in Yangon.
Sunflowers Group sold organic dyed weaved cloth, promoting the values of an ethical workplace; AAR Japan sold handcrafted earrings and dress decorations, boosting rights and respect for disabled children; Chu Chu sold recycled baskets and wallets, promoting environmental protection. Many of the customers were foreigners, but locals should also buy these products to help improve Myanmar.
The Sunflower Group stall was crowded with clothes of amazing texture and tones. The group began with its own art gallery and created the social enterprise two years ago after being inspired by weaving workers from Inle, who they now support. Sunflower Group sells in eight states in Myanmar. Like every rising enterprise, they face their own challenges – in this case, labor shortage – and for prospective customers the group advises to see the clothes in person, as the color might be slightly different on its website.
Boasting a stand adorned with intriguing handmade items – earrings, purses, bracelets and decorations for traditional Myanmar dress – AAR Japan (a Japanese group) has been improving the lives of disabled children in Myanmar since 2002. The enterprise teaches the children computer, craft and weaving skills, as well as instilling in them a sense of confidence with morning motivational talks and other activities.
Chu Chu had one of the best stalls at the bazaar, touting wallets, laundry baskets, water bottles, all sorts of covers, and more. Adhering to its message of environmental awareness, all of the products were recycled. Like other stalls, the enterprise struggles to attract Myanmar customers, but plans to lower its prices to make the products more accessible to everyone. You can visit their workshop in Dala and buy their products in Hla Day from Pansodan and Thar Phu, Pawn Malone in Bo Chout Market. Overall it was a spectacular day, meeting the people behind these social enterprises and seeing their organic products. Be sure to visit them once in a while.
Update: This weekend bazaar will next appear at Marketplace by City Mart (Golden Valley Branch) on Nov 25-26 and Marketplace by City Mart (6.5 Mile Branch) on Dec 30-31.
Gallery Address: 45, Nawaday St, 10 Mile, Sawbwagyi Kone Ward, Inseing Township, (near Yangon International Airport)
Address: 54-Right, 1st Floor, Shan Gone St, Myaynigone, Sanchaung Township
Phone Number: 09250111245, 09450011956
Address: No. 65, Kyaikwine Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township
Phone Number: 09254355303
Address: 507 Khaye Road, Kamakasit Quarter, Dala
Phone Number: 09792582795, 099448542492