Building a better future for more than 3 million beneficiaries over the past 25 years
Since 1996, Kenan has succeeded in empowering over 3 million people, including small business owners, community members, government officials, educators, and students to achieve their dreams through over 1,000 projects in Thailand, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia with the generous support of nearly USD 100 million in donations from government, corporate and multi-lateral partners.
Richard Bernhard, Executive Director at Kenan Foundation Asia talks about Kenan’s work over the past 25 years.
Piyabutr Cholvijarn, President at Kenan Foundation Asia discusses Kenan’s founding, successes, and the importance of donor support.
Khun Anand Panyarachun – Founding Chairman
On the occasion of Kenan Foundation Asia’s 25th anniversary, I am proud that the organization has grown into a major development partner in Thailand and Southeast Asia. In the mid-1990s, I believed that Thailand was ready to be an equal economic and social development partner based on its double digit economic growth in the 1980s-90s that propelled the country to become a mid-level economy. At the same time, Mr. Frank Kenan, chairman of the Kenan Charitable Trust, held the belief that long-term development is best achieved through free market mechanisms. Based on these principles, the Kenan Charitable Trust, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Thai and US governments joined together to establish the Kenan Foundation Asia (Kenan) in 1996 as an independent, locally-registered nonprofit organization.
As soon as Kenan was established, the Asian Economic Crisis ensued. Kenan, with support from H.E. Dr. Henry Kissinger, responded by launching the American Corporations for Thailand (ACT) program, in which we raised funds from major US corporations to build the capacities of over 27,000 unemployed workers. Later Kenan received the mandate from USAID to implement the USD 23 million Accelerating Economic Recovery in Asia (AERA) program to develop SMEs, advise business support organizations and train Thai banks. Over the years, Kenan has responded to various crises including the Asian tsunami, conflict in Southern Thailand, and avian influenza and malaria control. Kenan has also become the leading regional organization in transforming STEM education to match the needs of Industry 4.0, highlighted by the USD 30 million Chevron Enjoy Science project.
Moreover, Kenan has met its regional aspirations through implementing programs in Southeast Asia since 1999 to support national and ASEAN development objectives. For example, Kenan has played a major role in developing ASEAN SMEs and has supported the prevention of the spread of drug resistant malaria and avian influenza in the Mekong countries. Since 2014, Kenan has maintained a permanent office in Hanoi with a focus on delivering education and civil society programming.
As we reach our 25th anniversary in 2021, Kenan has succeeded in helping over 3,000,000 small business owners, community members, government officials, educators and students to achieve their dreams through implementing over 1,000 projects in Thailand, Vietnam and Southeast Asia with generous support of nearly USD 100 million from government, corporate and multi-lateral partners. Through our expertly developed programs, we create sustainable impact that changes the lives of our beneficiaries and those in the communities where they live and work. Kenan is fulfilling my vision of becoming a true people-to-people development organization, and the ongoing support of our partners is vital to the continuation of our impactful programming.
We have accomplished a lot together during our first 25 years and empowered many people to realize their full potential. But what matters most now is what we do next. Thank you for helping make Kenan Foundation Asia a leading regional nonprofit organization, now and for decades to come.