As Thailand becomes an innovative country, social sector organizations are playing a key driving role. Social Enterprise Thailand was established by social enterprise members nationwide to support social enterprises in growing their businesses alongside solving social and environmental problems. How does Social Enterprise Thailand have an innovating role? We will explore this with M.L. Dispanadda Diskul, Chairman of Social Enterprise Thailand. Let’s go…
Current State of Thailand’s Innovations
At the individual level, Thais are good at inventing new methods to solve problems. In the area of innovation ecosystems, support for innovations has become substantial over the past decade and innovation is increasingly becoming a national agenda. Policies have significant role in empowering people or small organizations to create innovations and come up with solutions for the problems at community level and scale the impact.
The role of Social Enterprise Thailand
Social Enterprise Thailand is a network of social enterprises in Thailand. The works of social enterprises always engage innovation. As their main goal is to solve social and environmental problems, social entrepreneurs have to look at why previous solutions haven’t achieved the desired results and propose better solutions. This process certainly needs innovation. Social Enterprise Thailand plays a role in tackling members’ obstacles. Our question is how to help these entrepreneurs survive, meaning that they could continue their businesses and expand on their social innovations. In other words, we are supporting them so that they could continue creating social innovations.
Examples of Innovations by Entrepreneurs that Improve Quality of Life or the Environment
Apart from the product or service innovations created by members, there are also innovative business models. For example, “Buddy Home Care” is a solution to help elderly with difficulties in accessing professional care services. Because this type of service is usually expensive, many families opt to care for elderly at home, causing family members who are caretakers to lose income. This business has collaborated with the Faculty of Nursing, Chiangmai University to provide nursing training courses. This course recruits youths from ethnic minority groups that find challenges in accessing the labor market. After being trained, some of these youths are employed, while others return to their communities to develop solutions for the community’s health challenges. As the service fee is not collected for the priority in creating profit, this innovation is able to solve two problems at the same time - lack of access to professional healthcare services for the elderly and youth unemployment in ethnic minority groups.
Another example is “Young Happy”, which attempt to tackle the challenge of how to support elderly in prolonging their active aging stage for as long as possible with enjoyment, value and independence. This still help elderly entering the stage of homebound or bedbound too quickly after retirement, which is mostly caused by inactive lifestyles. Young Happy builds elderly communities both on site and online through provision of activities including healthcare challenges and campaigns, networking, and recruiting elderly volunteers to help the society. By engaging them, elderly joining Young Happy communities feel that their lives are still meaningful.
Importance of Innovation Thailand Platform to enhance Thailand’s new positioning
First, Innovation Thailand will certainly contribute to the country’s image, because the platform is able to unite many sectors, including the government sector, large private companies, the academic sector and entrepreneur networks to drive innovation. These elements will lead to the country’s macro image as a regional leader for innovations.
Second, this type of network is a good platform for exchanging knowledge on innovation development both within the same industry and across industries. With connections to the government sector and the academic sector, we will also see more innovations being implemented at the business level through this network.
This social sector organization recognizes the importance of innovation and is ready to act as a intermediary in encouraging members to continually innovate, along with disseminating innovations and expanding new knowledge among members to support business survival and sustainable growth with Innovation Thailand.