Faith and business are powerful forces for peace

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Nerdah Bo Mya


About Karen Enterprises: The Karen territory in eastern Myanmar (Burma), Kawthoolei, is open for business. Kawthoolei offers great investment opportunities in mining, agriculture, and tourism. In the future, given that it borders Thailand, it could serve as a manufacturing base to supply the growing Thai market. Famed investor Jim Rogers says, “If you can find ways to invest in Myanmar, you will be very, very rich over the next 20, 30, 40 years.” Karen Enterprises is open to proposals or offers from companies or individuals who would like to do business in this rich and untapped region.


Global Business & Interfaith Peace Bronze Medalist

Nerdah Bo Mya, President and Founder Karen Enterprises, a company in eastern Myanmar, is leading an international effort to attract responsible investment and to drive sustainable and inclusive business initiatives to stabilize peace through entrepreneurship and business. Nerdah is capitalizing on the current peace to bring in the economic pillars that can consolidate the peace.


Bio

Nerdah Bo Mya, the President and Founder of Karen Enterprises, is the son of General Bo Mya who was the President of the non-state armed group Karen National Union (KNU) from 1976 to 2000. KNU has been engaged in the longest war of Asia since the independence of Burma / Myanmar against the central military (“Tatmadaw”) of Myanmar to achieve self-determination of the Karen population and a life in “freedom, democracy and humanity”. Nerdah Bo Mya, was born near Manerplaw – the former headquarters of the KNU as well as other ethnic nationalities and the pro-democracy movement. After being educated in Thailand and in the U.S., where Nerdah Bo Mya spent six years studying a Liberal Arts degree at a university in California, the young graduate turned away from a future in the U.S. and soon returned to the Thailand-Burma border. A short visit of the fresh university graduate Nerdah Bo Mya turned into a life-long mission, as he witnessed the 1994 Karen split of the Karen resistance into a Christian (KNU) and Buddhist (DKBA) armed splinter group in what he describes as “the blackest day” of their history. Nerdah Bo Mya maintained a dual role – as battalion commander, he fought in the front lines against the Tatmadaw in a military role, while he equally sought to develop the foreign affairs of KNU and to broker support for peace. Nerdah Bo Mya met with diplomats and politicians, even the Norwegian Royal Family and the German Government and has sought to spread international awareness about the Karen struggle for freedom and equality. Nerdah Bo Mya became the Major General and the Chief of Staff of the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO). Formal peace could be reached through the groundbreaking bilateral ceasefire agreement of KNU with the Tatmadaw in 2012 and affirmed through the so called “Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement” (NCA) in Myanmar in October 2015. Nerdah Bo Mya has been working towards restoring interfaith unity among the Karen fractions KNU, DKBA and KNU/KNLA Peace Council and has supported peaceful and political solutions to the termination of conflict in Karen State. Through the foundation of Karen Enterprises, Nerdah Bo Mya is practically realizing a vision of a developed peace economy in Karen State through sustainable and inclusive business.


More Detail

Nerdah Bo Mya is a most unconventional business leader and peace entrepreneur. Nerdah is anxious to share with an international audience the pathways to promote sustainable development in a state affected by the longest conflict of Asia. Karen Enterprises is seeking to attract responsible investment and to drive sustainable and inclusive business initiatives to stabilize peace through entrepreneurship and business. Such ventures include the operation of a hospitality training school, the development of an eco-lodge to attract visitors to the Karen area, the planning of a modern eco-city for refugees and returnees, sustainable business in agriculture and forestry (i.e. plantation business in logging-affected areas to prevent soil degradation and in integrated agriculture through beekeeping) and wildlife conservation measures (e.g. training of rangers). Nerdah Bo Mya’s transformative work for a free and developed Karen State within a federal union of Myanmar requires a balanced approach and engagement with religious and civil society leaders, with military stakeholders, foreign diplomats and researchers, businesspeople etc. Furthermore, I invite the jury members to support the peaceful development of all people in conflict-affected Karen State within all of their personal and institutional means. After five years of the highest level of political stability in Karen State reached since the independence of Myanmar still no comprehensive, coherent and coordinated initiative of international development partners to support the transformation of Karen State to a peace economy has been commenced.


Nominated by:

  • Felix Haas
  • Consultant