Since 2016, Innovation in Myanmar has brought together Burmese NGOs and CBOs together with employees from Johnson & Johnson to design innovative pilot projects to aid Myanmar's HIV response.

NGOs rely on money from a variety of sources, and in Myanmar, the majority of NGOs depend on foreign donors to survive. Pepal recognised that an ongoing shortfall in aid was, and continues to, threaten the sustainability of NGO activities in the country. Accordingly, at the heart of the program was the goal to help a variety of local NGOs in Myanmar to become self-sustainable.

Over the course of two years, Pepal hosted four innovation workshops and worked with over thirty local organisations in the fight against HIV. As a result of the program there are now 35 Burmese local healthcare workers trained in leadership skills who are driving sustainable social change on the ground. 

Three of the innovation projects piloted during the program continue to thrive in Myanmar:

- A sexual and reproductive health education tool for young people created by our leaders is now being integrated into mainstream youth programming. Phoenix, a local NGO, together with corporate participants, created a novel game to engage adolescents in conversations about their sexual health. In their ‘Ask a Question, Get an Answer, Win a Prize’ game, youths pay a small fee for three attempts at shooting a target. If they fill out a quiz on sexual reproductive health correctly, they get an additional two attempts for free, increasing their chances of winning a prize. After they have filled out the quiz, they talk through the correct answers with Phoenix volunteers, and are given the opportunity to ask questions. This allows Phoenix volunteers to educate youths for sexual reproductive health and collect valuable data at a low cost.

- In Mandalay, Alliance Myanmar's CBO partner, Spectrum, has set up a shop run by HIV+ clients. All profits from sales are used to support HIV prevention, care and treatment activities run by the CBO.

- A 'one-stop-shop' for HIV patients in Yangon is almost finished construction, and due to open this summer. During an innovation workshop, teams identified that accessing comprehensive care in Yangon was difficult due to distance between diagnostic and treatment facilities. The one-stop-shop was conceptualised so as to increase access to diagnosis and care for HIV+ patients, and to cut down time and costs of travel. Ratana Metta Organisation, the CBO involved in the workshop, has received local funding and will open its doors to the public soon.

Innovation in Myanmar demonstrated that sustainable social change is possible through collaboration, leadership and innovation. Collaboration between corporate and NGO partners facilitated a knowledge exchange of business thinking and healthcare knowledge. This knowledge exchange made innovation possible. But the leadership skills, at the heart of all Pepal projects, ensured the sustainability of the projects piloted during the program.

We would like to thank all of our partners who drove Innovation in Myanmar's success since 2016, and we look forward to watching the progress of our local partners in the country go from strength to strength.