Reflecting on my time in Thailand working with social entrepreneurs “it’s the women” that inspired me the most. Women like Hasanah Kehmasow and Haswanee Pakbara, young women who live in a small village in the La-gnu District of southern Thailand.
The economy of their village relies on fishing for their economic sustainability. Yet, large commercial fishing operations have reduced both the market price for seafood and fish populations impoverishing small-scale fishermen. Fisherfolk Community Enterprise provides these fishermen access to a Bangkok market where they can command premium prices for their sustainable, healthy seafood. It is women like Hasanah and Haswanee that make it work, collaborating with the fishermen on their daily catch and employing the fishermen’s wives in the processing of the seafood. The result…the household income of community members has increased by 50% and opened doors for women’s empowerment in their remote, majority Muslim community.
“Hopeful” is the word that I would use to describe “Gift” Preekamol Chantaranijakorn and her work as Founder and Managing Director of Ma.D Club For A Better Society. Gift is a visionary leader who exited a successful career to launch Ma.D in 2015. Structured as a hub for social entrepreneurs in Bangkok, Ma.D offers co-working space, workshops, mentors and events that support social entrepreneurs. Gift’s energy and boundless optimism for the work of social entrepreneurs is contagious and the community of social entrepreneurs adores her.
In central Bangkok I was inspired by the work of Thanda “P’fern” Tida and Meemi “Me” Wanraimee. These young women are supporting social entrepreneurs through their work at Sal Forest Co, Ltd., the first sustainable business accelerator in Thailand. By facilitating workshops, performing social impact assessments and conducting research on important sustainability issues in Thailand, they assist social entrepreneurs in measuring their social impact.