"Foreign companies flocking to the pot of gold will play a pivotal part in promoting sustainable business practices"

A resource-rich country, underdeveloped and providing virgin markets as a respite to the drab growth of mature, developed markets. All eyes are currently on this country with 60 million inhabitants smack in the middle of the Asian growth story. Like the pot of gold, it draws interest from most industries and a number of players are focusing on the area. The prospects may prove as fickle and as short lived as the rainbow if the positive development of the recent years come to a halt. In many ways, Myanmar is at the crossroads where future success is determined.  

Part of this crossroad is about the transition from being governed by a military junta to being a fully-fledged democracy, without falling into the trap of “strong man” or political polarization so often seen in the political processes in similar countries. It is about the ability to leverage the country’s untapped riches to bring people out of poverty and providing opportunities to the broader population, without becoming entangled in graft, corruption and personal enrichment at the cost of the society that so easily befalls a country in Myanmar’s position.

It is also the crossroads of the quick and dirty development of the country’s infrastructure and industry, with less concerns for environmental protection and sustainability. The opposite will surely be more sustainable, but may seem like an obstacle in the Klondyke-like atmosphere that tends to color the early days of a transformation of Myanmar’s magnitude.

Successfully tackling this crossroads and to make the right choices, is of course largely up to Myanmar and its people to achieve for themselves. However, the numerous foreign companies that are flocking to the pot of gold will also play a pivotal part in promoting sustainable business practices, as well as fostering solid institutions enforcing world-class regulations. The road ahead will be built, quite literally, in partnership between the world and Myanmar. This responsibility should not be taken lightly by the companies establishing subsidiaries over the next few years.

Taking the right road in the crossroads will rely on not making the easy choices of personal enrichment, simple political messages or religious dogmatism that so often befall countries on the threshold of transformation.

To use the words of Robert Frost, it is about “taking the road less traveled by” as that will make all the difference. And then the pot of gold will really be there for all to benefit from.