By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
Headed by Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, president and chief executive officer of Thai Beverage, the committee has promoted Phuket to be the first province for this social enterprise, which will work as a legal business entity to develop rural businesses and communities.
The aim is to increase income of people in the rural areas and lead to better living conditions for them.
Thanks to its readiness in terms of infrastructure and business circumstance, Phuket was selected to be among five strategic provinces by the committee for the first phase of the project.
The others are Phetchaburi, Udon Thani, Chiang Mai and Buri Ram.
In addition to the first five provinces, the committee will set up local social enterprises in 13 other strategic provinces by the end of this year, resulting in a total of 18 provincial clusters responsible for every region of the Kingdom. Each social enterprise will be in charge in its own territory.
The launch of “Pracharath Rak Samakkee Phuket” yesterday was presided over by Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda.
The social enterprise will be operated as legal business entity with Bt5 million in initial capital. ThaiBev has injected Bt1 million of seeding funds into the company, while more than Bt1 million has been raised by the local business community in Phuket.
“The major aim … of the Pracha Rath project is to increase the incomes of people in rural communities. This can be achieved via three strategic pillars, which are agriculture, product processing by small and medium-sized enterprises, and community tourism,” Anupong said.
Thapana said the Public-Private Steering Committee would work with the close cooperation of its three major partners – the government sector, the private sector, and community enterprises.
While the government sector will provide support on policy advocacy and stimulus factors and accessibility of production sources, the private sector will provide management and marketing know-how, as well as communication and promoting awareness of the Pracha Rath initiatives.
Thapana said all 18 social enterprises heading the strategic provincial clusters would be under the umbrella of one holding company, which will control all policies and strategies initiated under the cooperation of the government and private sector of the steering committee. “Each social enterprise will work independently and generate income by itself. However, the income will not be allocated to the shareholders, but will be reinvested in the community,” Thapana said.
“They [the social enterprises] will have executive boards made up of members of the government and private sectors, each with a managing director who is a well-known person working in civil society in the province.
“They will have also advisory boards made up of representatives from relevant ministries and government agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.
Thapana said that for Phuket, four agricultural products would be promoted for adding value and branding. They are Phuket pineapple and lobster, goat milk, and organic vegetables.
Meanwhile, batik will be focused on as a strategic product for increasing value-added and branding under the pillar of the product-processing sector.
For community tourism, the province will develop a year-around tourism calendar.