As a girl, Daw Thin Thin Hlaing’s family was very poor—she often missed meals, didn’t have enough clothes and missed out on school.
With limited opportunities at home, she went to Thailand to seek work. Daw Thin Thin Hlaing lived there for nine years, and both she and her husband found work at a motorcycle factory. When they got married, a family member suggested they move back to Myanmar and open a jewelry shop out of a relative’s home.
Daw Thin Thin Hlaing’s business grew slowly, organically, until she moved the storefront out of her relative’s house and opened a shop where she began selling longyis, traditional Burmese garments. Now, she has four stores and a t-shirt printing business.
She designs the longyis herself and gets them specially printed. To stock her shops with these custom designs, Daw Thin Thin Hlaing took out a loan from VisionFund.
Now, her goal is to establish her own weaving business, so that she can make the longyis in-house and employ local women. She knows first-hand how difficult it can be to find work in Myanmar and how many women go to Thailand, where they’re far from their families and can fall prey to exploitation.
Daw Thin Thin Hlaing feels a deep sense of responsibility toward her community, and her vision is to create jobs for up to 100 women. “If I can give opportunities to others,” she says, “then that is what I need to do.”