|Ei Ei Phyu|
October 7, 2015—Aspiring economist Ei Ei Phyu of Burma (Myanmar) will spend eight weeks in the Washington, D.C., area as a guest of Nathan Associates Inc., gaining exposure to the firm’s work in trade and development, infrastructure, and survey design and analysis.
When not learning from daily activities at Nathan Associates, Ei Ei will pursue a busy schedule of visits and discussions at U.S. government offices, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations. The experiences gained inside Nathan and through the numerous encounters in Washington will inform her eventual work as an economic researcher and consultant.
Ei Ei, a second-year graduate student, has a particular interest in foreign direct investment, infrastructure development, and strengthened human capital as tools for Burma’s advancement. The country has instituted changes beginning in 2011 to become more open politically and economically.
Having “opened up,” Burma “needs to learn from the many experiences of other developed and successful developing countries in terms of policy implementations, infrastructure, and potential human capital,” she said. Her time in Washington will give her access to “broader ideas, international networks, and implications” for Burma’s development.
The recipient of a scholarship from Germany’s Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Foundation), Ei Ei studies at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. She is researching and writing a master’s thesis on foreign direct investment (FDI) in Burma. Such investment introduces new technologies and best business practices to developing countries in addition to financing new production.
Although policy changes have increased the flow of FDI into Burma, Ei Ei sees an increasingly important role for basic infrastructure in attracting even more investors who want to be sure a country has quality roads, modes of transportation, and power systems—and human capital.
Regardless of where she works, Ei Ei also plans to help more people from poor villages and remote areas attain an education, personally providing instruction and cash. Education is critical to development of human capital, she says.
“One of the Chinese proverbs that stuck in my heart was, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,’” she said. “Therefore, by providing children’s education, it is not only for their lives but also for their better communities.”
Ei Ei acquired a wealth of experience before enrolling at Thammasat University. She studied commerce at the Yangon Institute of Economics. She also studied in Singapore to become a chartered certified accountant, the profession her family wanted her to enter. She has worked for the humanitarian and development organizations ACF, Diakonia, and Solidaritiés International.
Ei Ei’s program is supported by fellowship from the Robert R. Nathan Foundation. Five previous scholars from Burma have participated in the program over the past two-and-a-half years. The fellowship stems from the firm’s involvement in Burma since 1953.
This year, Nathan began implementing the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Private Sector Development Activity, designed to increase economic opportunities in Burma through more inclusive economic governance rules and processes and by increasing access to finance for businesses, individuals, and other emerging economic actors.