Celebrating the success of British-Thai collaboration in Crafts and Social Enterprise
On 24th March 2016, British Council held a sharing and lecture session for 22 craft entrepreneurs in partnership with the SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACICT), as the final event of the Business and Investment Readiness (BiR) Programme. The session was followed by an exhibition on ‘Craft and Social Enterprise’ and a cocktail reception at the British Embassy, in order to showcase participants’ products and the social impact of their work to distinguished guests and relevant organisational partners.
The morning session included a workshop and sharing session. Twenty two craft entrepreneurs came together to share their accomplishments from the BiR programme. Participants discussed what they had learned from the workshop in September 2015, what progress they had made since then, what problems or obstacles they had faced, and how they had been able to solve these problems. Some of the positive feedback from this session included, for example, the realisation of new products that were designed on the training course by entrepreneurs without any design background, new materials and methods discovered to increase business opportunities, and how initiating closer engagement with the community had paid off, particularly with elderly and young people. Following this, David Crump, Head of Business Incubation at Cockpit Arts, provided his feedback.
The afternoon session focused on assessing social impact. Pattraporn Yamla-or, Managing Director of Knowledge Dissemination at Sal Forest, Thailand’s first “sustainable business accelerator”, shared with the participants how to define and quantify social value propositions and monetise social impact. She emphasised prioritising concrete actions beyond just developing knowledge and awareness of social enterprise.
The evening event comprised of an exhibition, panel discussion, screening of video interviews, and cocktail reception at the Ambassador’s Residence at the British Embassy. The ‘Craft and Social Enterprise Exhibition’ showcased products and crafts by twenty two craft-entrepreneurs such as natural indigo-dyed products, shoes made from handwoven ethical textiles, non-toxic wooden toys, fabrics made from water hyacinth, nano-silk fabrics, and bamboo basketry products. The exhibition reflected a unique blend of contemporary design, local knowledge and high quality, skilled craftsmanship, while showcasing social impact generated by these handicrafts.
The video interviews captured the essence of the ideas behind each business – how they related to social issues, community engagement, environment, innovation and sustainability. It also demonstrated the social impact these social entrepreneurs have created through their crafts.
The panel discussion on ‘Craft & Social Impact’, chaired by Varin Sachdev, the moderator of the Business Smart TV programme, was an opportunity for participants to share experience, best practices and future plans. The trainer and mentor of this programme, David Crump, shared his perspective on the potential of Thai craft and social enterprise initiatives in the British market, and internationally. Komkrit Trakultiwakorn, from 141 Social Enterprise, gave his views on factors that could contribute to the success and sustainability of social enterprises. Meechai Taesujariya, a recognised master craftsman from Khampun, explained his vision of how Thai crafts could help promote a better society for all. Finally, Laphapim Chairatchanikorn, from LARINN BY DOUBLE P, explained what she thought would be the strengths of the next generation of social entrepreneurs, and the support they would require in order to invest in social work.
The reception, attended by more than one hundred distinguished guests from cultural and social enterprise organisations as well as media representatives, concluded the exhibition. Welcome remarks were given by Paul Bute, the British Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, Panjit Pisawong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of SACICT, and Andrew Glass, Country Director of British Council Thailand. Another highlight of the reception was the announcement of two selected craft-entrepreneurs to join a study trip and product showcases in the UK: Natsasi Senghuad, co-founder of Varni Southern Wickery, a craft business commended for its strong community engagement and educational approach, and Wuttikai Phathong, founder of Kaewwanna Natural Indigo, a social enterprise which promotes the protection of forested watershed through the use of natural indigo in the north of Thailand. Both will showcase their crafts at the New for Old Exhibition in Edinburgh, and Clerkenwell Design Week in London on 18th- 27th May 2016.