Starting a stock market is hard. Just ask Ryota Sugishita.

Two decades after his firm first laid the groundwork for an exchange in Myanmar, Sugishita found himself in a Yangon hotel ballroom in 2013, facing down skeptics in an audience of bankers, corporate executives and politicians.

" 'Why isn't bank financing enough?' is a question I got at every single one of those workshops," said Sugishita, a managing director who led the Myanmar bourse project for Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd., a unit of Japan's second-largest brokerage.