Who We Are
Copyright © 2019-20 Pwint Htun
Started in 2012 by Pwint Htun--an engineer, U.S. telecom executive, social entrepreneur, and systems change leader of Myanmar's digital financial services industry, Mobilizing Myanmar is a multi-sector digital and financial inclusion initiative that's leveraging smartphones to connect women to economic opportunity.
It has already realized significant results guiding the regulatory groundwork for healthy competition between telecoms; influencing the government mandate that mobile coverage extend to 95% of the population; and spearheading digital literacy and livelihood training in a digital pilot region.
Mobilizing Myanmar could be a global game changer for women as they gain a foothold in the formal economy through digital finance and share lessons learned with women around the world.
(Our 2017 report Mobilizing Myanmar: A Smartphone Revolution Connects the Poor with Economic Opportunity, commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explores the fintech and cultural landscape in an impoverished, once-isolated country where cell towers now sprout faster than bamboo.)
Copyright © 2016-20 Paula Bock
Mobilizing Myanmar is an initiative of Partners Asia, a U.S.-based nonprofit with 30 years experience supporting community-led efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar and along its borders.
Our implementing partner, Local Resource Centre, is a local nongovernmental organization registered in Myanmar that works with hundreds of civil society organizations and women's networks to strengthen communities, including by holding many vocational training programs for women.
Mobilizing Myanmar's team members, based in Myanmar and the U.S., have deep experience in fintech and have worked with ethnic, poor, rural and migrant communities throughout Myanmar and along its borders for more than a decade. Our trusted relationships at the local, national and international level in industry, government and the social sector help us facilitate partnerships to develop appropriate curriculum, support digitization of government payments and factory salaries, train the hardest-to-reach women, and develop digital infrastructure to bridge the gender gap and alleviate poverty.
President & Founder
Mobilizing Myanmar is led by Pwint Htun, an engineer, social entrepreneur, U.S. telecom executive and architect of Myanmar's digital financial services industry. Since 2012, she has advised the government of Myanmar on digital inclusion and digital financial services for the poor.
She has long advocated for women, rural and poor populations to have access to information, finance and a social safety net through technology. Pwint brought the first official delegation from Myanmar to East Africa to learn from their digital finance journey. In 2014, Pwint led successful efforts to draft Mobile Financial Services Regulations that are now enacted by the Central Bank of Myanmar. She has assisted mobile financial service providers to receive licenses to operate in Myanmar.
Originally from a rural village in Myanmar, Pwint earned a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington, a Masters of Engineering Management from Northwestern University, and Executive Education training from Harvard Business School. She worked for two decades on innovation in the U.S. telecommunications industry at T-Mobile, Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies. She served on Partners Asia's Board of Directors from 2012 - April 2019 and is currently a Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Pwint is fluent in English and Myanmar.
Myanmar Leaders & Staff
Deep appreciation to our talented and courageous staff in Myanmar for their important ongoing work.
Chief Communications Officer
Paula Bock leads strategy, communications, and resource development for Mobilizing Myanmar, advises on programmatic innovation and serves as project photographer.
She has been involved with marginalized communities in Southeast Asia since 1996 as a Seattle Times journalist, Mae Tao Clinic volunteer, Partners Asia staff, and co-author of Mobilizing Myanmar: A Smartphone Revolution Connects the Poor with Economic Opportunity.
For 30 years, Paula has engaged audiences through journalism, nonprofits, museum exhibits and corporate partnerships--highlighting innovative solutions to inequities and earning 50 journalism awards and three nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. As senior writer for The Seattle Times Sunday magazine, Paula wrote more than 200 cover stories on global health, women, poverty, education and the arts. She's published in top-tier media including Newsweek, TIME, and the Los Angeles Times and served in senior editorial roles at Pacific Science Center and PATH.
Paula earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, studied as a Rotary International Ambassador in Taipei and serves on PATH's Institutional Review Board.
Her documentary photographs are featured in the Smithsonian Institution's online exhibition A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America.
Tackling core issues such as women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation requires collaboration from local, regional, cross-border, and international partners in industry, government, and the social sector.
Mobilizing Myanmar is grateful to its many partners and funders, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and philanthropic investors including the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Girls and Women's Leadership Initiative and Partners Asia's Chairman of the Board Hal Nathan whose years of steadfast support of grassroots community development and women leaders laid groundwork for this project and also enabled Mobilizing Myanmar to incubate its social innovation strategy and seek funding for a large-scale pilot.
Mobilizing Myanmar currently seeks partnership to:
Take the project to scale in other regions in Myanmar and beyond
Work with women's networks, women entrepreneurs and women's savings groups to develop smartphone-enabled economic opportunities
Explore safety nets for women including smartphone-enabled, community-led micro insurance
Leverage women's personal, social and digital networks to support women as leaders in their villages and beyond
We'd love to hear from you! Please email or use the contact form below.
Copyright © 2019-20 Paula Bock