The year 2020 will be remembered for the turbulence caused when a pandemic swept through the world, fundamentally changing people’s way of life, presenting unprecedented challenges to governments worldwide, and forcing businesses to reflect and adapt in order to survive. With this in mind, the Asia Business Council and the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) embarked on a six-month research project to analyze how Asia Business Council member companies have responded to the pandemic in strategic, innovative, or impactful ways.

For Myanmar-based conglomerate Yoma Group, the COVID-19 pandemic was a defining moment in its service to the country. Although its acquisition of mobile financial services operator Wave Money was planned before the pandemic, it was the trying times of 2020 that truly underscored the importance of mobile money in promoting financial inclusion in Myanmar.

The widespread use of Wave Money was significant in Myanmar because most of the population has no access to banking services. From sending money to family members to distributing government aid, Wave Money was a true game changer, especially since its coverage reaches 91 percent of the country and 90 percent of rural areas. Partnering with the Myanmar government, Wave Money promoted transparency and helped to minimize corruption for relief aid, in fitting with Yoma’s mission to “build a better Myanmar for its people”.