awei is a small city, charming, peaceful and a green town on the banks of the Dawei river. Dawei is the capital city of the Tanintharyi Region in Southern Myanmar. Street vendors play an important role in the local economy as they are offering a wide range of goods and services in the town. According to the 2014 census, 24.8% of the population of Dawei are street vendors and daily workers. Different kinds of street vendors can be found in the town and most Dawei traditional snacks are sold by the street vendors. In Dawei, local people go out for snacks in the afternoon.

A street vendor woman

Daw Cho said Various kinds of Dawei traditional snacks are available at her shop such as Mote Kye Kyar, Mote Kwal Theit, Mote Tel Poung, Steam Cassava, Sweet Sticky Rice, Couple Snack and Mote Lone Yay Paw.

Daw Cho, a woman over 40 years old, is one of the street vendors in Dawei who makes different kinds of traditional Dawei snacks. Various kinds of Dawei traditional snacks are available at her shop such as Mote Kye Kyar, Mote Kwal Theit, Mote Tel Poung, Steam Cassava, Sweet Sticky Rice, Couple Snack and Mote Lone Yay Paw. Most snacks are made with sticky rice, coconut and sugar and it's sweet and delicious. Her shop is located beside the Bokyoke Road, near Maung Pale High School, Dawei and opens from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Due to the curfew hours, she hado close the shop early so she started selling at the Strand market a few days ago from 6:00 am to 9:00 am to cover family costs. To open the shop, everyday she gets up at 3:00 am and makes all the snacks and prepares to finish in time. 

Daw Cho Dawei Traditional Snack Shop

Before opening the shop, she worked at one of the cashew nut industries in the town. From that time, she had a desire to sell Dawei traditional snacks. She tried to learn how to make snacks but no-one taught her exactly. Later, she got a recipe from an old woman and she tried several times by herself to make delicious snacks. She now has 8 years experience making snacks and it became her professional job. Local people are the target customers and sometimes, Thai and Chinese people come to buy snacks. She also delivers snacks to Yangon through public transport when she gets orders. 

The best selling time is between October to May as many tourists come to visit Dawei. Before Covid-19 pandemic, she used 32 cups of sticky rice to make snacks and had an income around 80,000-90,000 MMK per day. She owns a small house because of this business. She wanted to extend the shop with some assistants and have the exact space to open the shop. Over the last two years, she has moved her shop more than 3 times from one place to another.

Family background 

She was born in a poor family and married when she was 20 years old. After a few years, her husband left her with a baby. She became a household head and lives with her son. Now, her son is a university student and she needs to spend most of the money that she earns for his university fees. In the meantime, she has to cover household costs because she is the only one who makes money in the family.

Mote Kwal Theit _ Dawei Traditional Snack


 Couple Snack _ Dawei Traditional Snack


The Impact of Covid and Crisis on her business

Because of the Covid-19 crisis, sales were down and she sold only half of normal time. Even though it affected her family's living, she was able to handle it. But this year, 2021, the situation is worse than last year. No one guarantees for safety, she closes the shop somedays if an emergency situation happens and worries about the security while the military vehicles are passing in front of her shop in the opening days. 

On the other hand, she rented the current space with 30,000 MMK per month from the house owner and needs to pay at the end of every month. Due to the low selling, she also decreased the usage of raw material like sticky rice, she uses 4 cups of sticky rice instead of 32 cups to make snacks. Daily income is between 10,000 MMK to 15,000 MMK in the opening days and sometimes, it’s zero. Since the income is not stable, she cannot cover the family cost and borrowed some money from her friend to buy raw materials for her business. The debt must be paid everyday little by little. Besides, she is worried about her son’s education because it is pending for 2 years. She is struggling a lot this year and sometimes she feels like running away when she gets tired.

How to get a loan 

Through the Micro Finance Loan program, SMEs business and street vendors can get financial support for their businesses. But most of the street vendors are not familiar with this process and they don’t have enough confidence to apply because they have limited required documents. They prefer to lend money with interest from their friends and merchants at about 3% interest a month rather than applying for a loan because they think it is easier and saves time.

Mote Kyay Kyar _ Dawei Traditional Snack 


Steam Cassava with Dawei Traditional Style



Daw Cho’s hopes 

She saidI just want to get back to a peaceful life and sell Dawei Traditional snacks for my whole life. Everyday, I pray for the situation to get better.”

To continue business, she wants to try her best until the last minute because it is not only her dream job but also the symbol of Dawei. It would be nice if she had the exact space to open the shop because she moved several times when the Municipal Officer ordered street vendors not to sell beside the mainroad. The current unstable political situation makes street vendors’ lives fall into poverty. She just wants to get back to a peaceful life and sell Dawei Traditional snacks for her whole life. Everyday, she prays for the situation to get better.

June 30, 2021