Local entrepreneur beats out ASEAN competition

Blue Ocean Operating Management is the only Myanmar firm to win one of six ASEAN-wide business awards handed out on November 11 in Nay Pyi Taw.

The firm won the Young Entrepreneurs ASEAN Business Award, which aims to recognise excellent companies that are founded and actively managed by a businessperson under 45.

Blue Ocean was founded in Myanmar in 2007, and now operates a number of businesses such as a contact centre for Telenor and a hotline for the nation-wide census, claiming over 400 employees at present.

Singapore was the big winner for the ASEAN Business Awards, winning 4 of the 6 ASEAN prizes.

A total of over 500 firms had initially applied for consideration from across the regional block. The companies first competed on a national level, then the winners in the 6 categories went head-to-head on the regional stage.

However, the winners, runners up, and second-runners up for the ASEAN awards came exclusively from four of the ten ASEAN countries – Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam.

The awards were part of an event launching the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which runs parallel to the ASEAN Summit over November 12 to 13 in Nay Pyi Taw.

President U Thein Sein opened the event by saying developing regional economies depend on implementation and resource access.

“It is important that member states develop gradually from resource-based [economies] to technology-based [economies] and then to innovative and advanced [economies],” he said.
He also highlighted ASEAN’s regional potential, noting improving trade links with India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand are bringing together some 16 countries with 3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$17 trillion.

U Win Aung, chair of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that while the regional economy is relatively strong and the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community is around the corner in 2015, much still needs to be done.

“The consensous among intellectuals and policymakers in the region is that large business are the ones that have been benefiting most from the economic integrative initiatives of ASEAN,” he said.

“Other issues such as corruption and the rise of economic nationalism are also becoming key hindrance to the promotion of economic regionalism with ASEAN. In order to address such challenges, ASEAN and more important its member states, are required to pursue long term investment on structured economic reforms.”

U Win Aung also provided perhaps the most humorous moment of the award ceremony, when he appeared to accidentally refer to Cambodian prime minister “samdech” Hun Sen as “Saddam Hussein”.

Who won the awards?

In Myanmar:

Award Name Myanmar National Winner
Women Leader Award City Mart Holdings
Young Entrepreneur Blue Ocean Operating Management
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Kelvin Chia
Innovation Award Fame Pharmaceuticals
ASEAN Centricity Award Myanmar Airways International
Corporate Excellence Kanbawza Bank


Award Name ASEAN-wide Winner
Women Leader Award Community Health Education Emergency Rescue Services (Philippines)
Young Entrepreneur Blue Ocean Operating Management (Myanmar)
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Absolute Kinetics Consulting (Singapore)
Innovation Award Cyclet Electrical Engineering (Singapore)
ASEAN Centricity Award UOB (Singapore)
Corporate Excellence Kanbawza Bank


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