A new project allows entrepreneurs to learn what the late monarch's sufficiency philosophy really means in business terms
Much is said – and indeed written – about His Majesty the late King Bhumibol’s sufficiency philosophy and how, if properly practised, it can bring happiness to people. Yet all too few Thais really understand the concept as it applies to real-life situations, and that’s one of the reasons why the “Por Laew Dee The Creator 2” project has selected 20 young entrepreneurs to find the true definition of sufficiency (phor phiang) through their own endeavours.
The participants come from a range of business endeavours –organic bakery, organic consumer goods, organic vegetable delivery, agriculture, hostels and printing.
The project, which was set up last year, supports role models based on the “sufficiency economy” and “creative economy”, using His Majesty the late King Bhumibol’s sufficiency philosophy and adapting it to the modern lifestyle to change the definition of business.
Initiated by Dr Sirikul Laukaikul with the support from the Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation, Por Laew Dee aims to spread knowledge and offer guidance based on the philosophy and thus help businessmen and the public adopt it in their daily lives.
In integrating their businesses with the philosophy, three core points are applied. Moderation or self-actualisation allows you to assess and evaluate yourself; reasonableness or self-rationalisation ensures you think about the causes and effects; while prudence or self-immunity focuses your thoughts on the future. There are also two necessary conditions – knowledge and virtue.
“The idea remains just that, an idea, if we talk without acting, so to make it more tangible, we’ve chosen 20 participants who are running their own businesses. We don’t work with students or start-ups but instead focus on young entrepreneurs who have been running their businesses for a while. That way, we can clearly see how the philosophy can apply in their fields,” says Sirikul.
The project also includes coaching workshops, with Sirikul and her trainer friends running three sessions during which they will discuss ideas with participants on combining the sufficiency philosophy with the creative economy. Site visits to small businesses are also arranged.
This year’s project has three main activities. The first is the “Por Laew Dee The Creator” intensive workshop, which kicked off last month and continues through June, with three full-day sessions and site visits.
The second activity is “Por Laew Dee Open House” consisting of two full-day seminars that are open to the general public. The first was held last month and the second is planned for mid-2017. The aim is to educate people about the sufficiency economy and creative economy philosophies and help current businesses to improve their methods.
The third activity, the “Por Laew Dee Boot Camp”, is for Thai students on school break.
Sirikul is a long-time consultant in branding strategy and the owner of Brandbeing company. She’s been interested in the sufficiency economy for years but says that whenever she tries to introduce the concept to her clients, they just don’t get it.
“In fact, the sufficiency economy implies moderate growth but most people think that it means stop growing. That is not part of their business goals and so they are not interested,” she says.
Many people misinterpret self-sufficiency as quitting urban life for the countryside, growing household vegetables and raising livestock, “Por Laew Dee The Creator” attempts to show that the philosophy can be implemented by everyone, everywhere.
The selected 20 entrepreneurs will serve as the “seeds” to inspire people, finding their own definition of sufficiency and then applying it to their business goal.
Pamornrat Panrattanapong – the manager of Hug organic products – is hoping to restart herself after selling the same products for four years. They include mild formula and shampoo, conditioner and face and body cream all made from natural extracts.
“Taking part in the project is good timing for me to rethink the next step of my business. Four years in this highly competitive market means I often lose out,” she says.
Former petroleum engineer Pavalin (Limthongchai) Masagee, who made a complete change to her life by opening the Hom Hostel & Cooking Club studio says that joining the project helps her to explore new ideas and also make new friends and business partners.
A sophomore student at Bangkok University, Jira Chanaboriboonchai is the youngest person to join the project with his T-shirts for the blind project.
Inspired by his aunt and uncle, both of whom are vision impaired, he has come up with t-shirts with embossed print in Braille that the wearer can read to find out the colour and thus blend better with society.
Sirikul is full of praise for the idea, pointing out that the blind have the same rights as others to choose the colours they wear.
So far Jira has come up with t-shirts in black and white and grey. “Mixing black and white becomes grey, it’s a reference to everyone working together to help the others,” he says.
For every T-shirt purchased, Jira donates another to foundations for the blind and other organisations helping the visually impaired as he’s aware that a lot of blind people are underprivileged and may not be able to spend money on themselves.
The T-shirt project started just six months ago and is growing by 200 per cent every month.
Sirikul says that one of the most successful stories from the “Por Laew Dee the Creator 1: project is Baan Rai Ai Arun farm stay in Kapoe, Ranong, which has become famous on the social networks.
Wiroj Chimmee, owner of Baan Rai Ai Arun, says he learned that the sufficiency economy is not about surviving on the bare minimum, but about doing things that suit your condition in a way that brings happiness to yourself and your family.
“The trainers in this project also taught me to know, evaluate and insure myself, while also sharing with others. A good brand has to give back to society too,” he says.
Sirikul says that although his farm stay is now very popular and people are queuing up to stay, he’s not extending his programme as it would disrupt his parents’ happiness.
In the meantime, Wiroj adapts the knowledge he has acquired by sharing with the others and people in his community.
For more information about “Por Laew Dee The Creator 2” and its activities, visit www.PorLaewDeeTheCreator.com and Facebook/Creator.com.