Myanmar-based Phandeeyar – a tech hub that brings together different stakeholders to accelerate startup development – has secured a $2 million follow-on investment from Omidyar Network, a global philanthropic investment firm.
Started by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, Omidyar Network’s investment in Phandeeyar will enable it to provide seed funding and intensive coaching to promising tech startups in the frontier market.
The funding will support an entrepreneurship programme, a Makerspace initiative (to develop hardware skills), an Open Data Platform (to bring together publicly available data on Myanmar) and a Civictech Lab, designed to help entrepreneurs use technology to increase civic participation and transparency.
This was revealed by Phandeeyar in an official communication.
Omidyar Network first invested in Phandeeyar in 2014 with other investors and aid givers including the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, USAID and Google.
“Myanmar now has an unprecedented opportunity to leapfrog into the digital economy. Omidyar Network’s investment will help us dramatically scale our support for the country’s tech and innovation ecosystem. It will allow us to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs to use technology to create a more modern economy with the jobs, products and services that the country needs. It will also help us support civic and social entrepreneurs to use technology in creative ways to tackle some of the other challenges facing Myanmar,” said David Madden, founder and CEO of Phandeeyar.
Phandeeyar was born out of Code for Change Myanmar that organized a series of hackathons in 2014.
Madden, in an interview with DEALSTREETASIA published last week said, “We have a clear sense of where that could make a big difference here. So we’re going to be developing enrolling our program to support those areas.”
“It is clear that Myanmar is undergoing an exciting period of change that has the potential to transform its social and economic development. As we have seen in other countries where we invest, technology and entrepreneurship can be an important engine for this change and therefore need the type of enabling environment provided by Phandeeyar if they are to succeed to the country’s great benefit,” said Stephen King, partner at Omidyar Network.
The second grant will enable to scale and refine Phandeeyar’s core activities to match the fast-growing demand. “Further, it will help the organization set up an incubator to nurture the nascent but vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Myanmar,” according to a post by Omidyar Network.
Apart from Phandeeyar, Omidyar Network has invested in Proximity Designs, Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Myitmakha news agency, Yangon Journalism School, Global Witness and Namati in the country.
“There is an unprecedented opportunity right now to support entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of technology to deliver positive impacts for the people of Myanmar. Combine this with the rapid adoption of smartphone technology and Myanmar could be on the cusp of leap-frogging other emerging markets to become one of the most promising markets for the use and development of technology in Asia. We’ve been highly impressed by the impact that Phandeeyar has already had and we want to support it to make sure that Myanmar takes full advantage of this opportunity,” said King.