Dr. Wimonkan Kosuma
Whether it’s a roadside somtum stand in Sisaket or a decorative, three-story shophouse in Bangkok, small businesses stitch the fabric of Thailand’s economy and culture. Still, in a time of great technological advancement and as entire industries scramble to avoid the pitfalls of technological disruption, many wonder how Thailand’s three million small businesses can survive.
Dr. Wimonkan Kosuma is not one of those people. In fact, she is as optimistic as ever about the future of small businesses. The sunny outlook of Dr. Wimonkan, the Deputy Director General of Thailand’s Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (OSMEP), stems from the accessibility of digital technology.
The major technological advancements of the past, such as steam engines, could only be accessed by colossal corporations swimming in cash. In the digital era, however, anyone with a smart phone can tap into e-commerce platforms, robust logistics systems and online payment mechanisms. Indicative of the simple power of digitalization, Dr. Wimonkan pointed to a street vendor in Khon Kaen who has begun selling mum (sausage) on an online platform and has since seen her revenue surge.
For Dr. Wimonkan, seeing small businesses succeed is not only good for the economy but society as well. She vividly recalls when the Tom Yum Goong Financial Crisis hit Thailand in 1997 and soon spread across Asia. During the crisis, small businesses cushioned society by providing local jobs and inexpensive products and services as Thailand’s currency lost value at a dizzying rate and economic turmoil ensued.
In the wake of the crisis, the Thai government, too, recognized the importance of having strong small businesses and established OSMEP in 2000 for the express purpose of guiding all policies related to small and medium-sized businesses. Dr. Wimonkan, who worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, jumped at the opportunity to join the new agency in 2002 as the Director of the International Cooperation and Policy Support Department.
In this role, she connected with Kenan Institute Asia because of its long list of international partners and a history of helping small business succeed in the global economy. With OSMEP still relatively new and knowing that Kenan could deliver high-quality work in an international setting, Dr. Wimonkan called on Kenan to organize a regional APEC seminar on behalf of OSMEP in 2003. The seminar was a huge success, and the relationship blossomed from there, as OSMEP and Kenan have since implemented more than a dozen projects to help small businesses form clusters, enhance quality standards and enter international markets.
Today, as Thailand enters the Industry 4.0 era, Dr. Wimonkan says that OSMEP’s role is to help small businesses achieve digitalization, transformation and internationalization. Kenan remains a key partner in achieving these goals. In the past year, the two have organized another regional APEC seminar to help small businesses adopt e-commerce into their operations and implemented a capacity building program for betta fish breeders to leverage e-commerce platforms to sell their fish overseas.
“Kenan has always been wonderful,” Dr. Wimonkan said. “We know that we can count on Kenan for its professionalism and expertise.”
For more than 15 years, Dr. Wimonkan has been a tireless champion of Thailand’s small businesses. And throughout this time, Kenan has remained a loyal and trusted partner, a trend unlikely to end in the digital era.
Mr. Stefanos Fotiou
Senior Programme Manager, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Citi Triple Bottom Line Small Hotels Project
The UNEP strives to achieve environmental progress in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Partnering with Kenan, a leader in sustainable development, on the Citi Triple Bottom Line Project allowed us to achieve that goal, reaching hundreds of small hotel owners and managers.
Mr. Salman Saadat
Country Chairman and General Manager Products, Caltex (Thailand)
Caltex Fuel Your School
One of Chevron’s goals is to be the neighbor of choice to the Thai society. We strive to create a sustainable community for Thailand. Partnering with Kenan Institute of Asia, a prominent non- profit social development organization with over 10 years of innovative education and youth development experience, to create the ‘Caltex Fuel Your School’ initiative allows us to address what the local community truly needs for tomorrow.
Mr. Jedsada Sriwiset
The Inquiry-base science and Technology Education Program (INSTEP)
This workshop is very different from other workshops I have attended throughout my life. I realized that it is not the answers to the questions that are important, but the process of finding those answers.
Manager of the National Science Museum Science Square at Chamchuri Square
Participant of the New York Hall of Science’s training workshop on designing and developing Maker Space curriculum.
“Participating in this training allowed me to gain a lot of knowledge to develop Maker Space programs. I am excited to have learned about concepts to stimulate the creative and scientific ideas of children which are integrated into each NYSCI activity. Examples include the 3D design activity, which not only taught us how to use online software to do design work, but also showed us that the activity can be leveraged to teach children mathematical skills, such as calculating and measuring sizes, and creating works of art. Each activity can also help build the 21st century skills of children.”
“I think the Maker Space will create enormous benefits for Thai children, including developing their creative thinking and analytical skills. More importantly, the activities will allow children to learn about STEM naturally. If we can expand the Maker Space to all provinces or in major cities, it will result in significant positive impact. Moreover, we should integrate Maker Space into school curriculum, with teachers being trained on how to design, develop, and create Maker-style learning for children.”
Dr. Omjai Saimek
Dr. Omjai first learned of Kenan Institute Asia’s work in improving education in Thailand in 2012, when Kenan was working for the Institute for the Promotion of Science Teaching to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in 10 Thai provinces. Although she was not a part of the project, she was intrigued by its goal and impressed by the work of Kenan and its team. So when Kenan invited her to join the Chevron Enjoy Science project, a major public-private-partnership to improve STEM education in Thailand and raise awareness of the importance of STEM education to national competitiveness, she jumped at the chance.
Working with Kenan’s education team, it was agreed that the project would support, both financially and technically, a signature initiative of the NSTDA called Thailand Children’s University (TCU), which exposes children to inquiry-based science education, and has them participating in science experiments run by university professors in university laboratories. Under the auspices of Her Royal Highness the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the TCU project was off to a strong start, but lacked the funds necessary to achieve its full potential, and project planning was not being held to a rigorous standard.
The first benefit of the partnership was the ability to expand to 18 universities, as originally envisioned by the NSTDA, from the current 10. This also allowed an increase in yearly activities from 15 to 63, and improved the project’s reach to over 30,000 students. Not so obvious, at first, was the improvements in the capabilities of NSTDA staff working on the project, thanks to their close collaboration with Kenan’s education team, or the improvements in planning, thanks to Kenan’s strict requirements for project planning and project measurement. Dr. Omjai credits this disciplined approach with making her staff “More capable and confident for TCU and other projects,” as well as adding to the success of TCU activities, making them “more interesting for students.” According to Dr. Omjai, “Because of Enjoy Science, TCU has had more impact to the country.” It was also important to her professionally, as she is deeply committed to achieving the mission of the NSTDA, and she credits the success of the TCU project with raising her team’s profile and helping distinguish NSTDA’s activities with the public and the government, noting that the project is now very well recognized.
Looking back at the past two and a half years, Dr. Omjai stated, “I made the right decision to ask Kenan staff to join the committee of TCU (as observers) and partner with them. They (Kenan) really helped support the initiatives and activities to be more successful.”
Ms. Nisagon Khongphaitoon
Since February 2015, Dear has served as the Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Professional at IBM Thailand, and is responsible for ensuring IBM's values and business needs are met by developing partnerships that leverage IBM’s technology and expertise to solve community problems and improve lives.
Working with her colleagues in the region and at corporate headquarters, a decision was reached to bring into Thailand an important platform, TeacherTry Science (TTS), that may be able to help teachers better deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lessons, through the use of project-based learning (PBL). Through her stakeholder meetings and IBMs partnership with the Ministry of Education, Dear has learned that teachers are being held back by a lack of STEM subject matter knowledge and the use of outdated classroom pedagogies, such as rote learning. Through these discussions, she was also referred to Kenan Institute Asia, as a potential partner who had the influence, reputation, and expertise to design and deliver a TTS rollout to the education system in Thailand.
Working with Kenan’s education experts, Dear and the team designed a one year, later expanded to two years, project that localized the TTS resources into the Thai language and mapped it to the Thai curriculum. Critically, the project built teacher capacity in delivering TTS modules using project-based learning, which also helps build a range of 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability, and serves to inspire students to take up STEM careers.
To date, the Thai TTS project has successfully built the capacity of over 700 teachers in, supported 210 students to attend PBL STEM camps, and 12 IBM volunteers have worked directly with students to develop projects using the PBL pedagogy. The use of IBM volunteers on projects is of particular importance to IBM, as IBM wants to build leaders, and volunteering helps them to understand the business and social challenges they need to address locally and globally. IBM also uses these opportunities to develop important market insights to help develop better tools to solve customer challenges and improve customer solutions, giving IBM an important edge against competitors. It’s critical that any partner know how significant these needs are to IBM, and Kenan’s team has “demonstrated time and again that they understand the challenges and needs of both IBM as a business and driver of social change.”
Ms. Thikumporn Wichienchur
Director, Women’s Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts
Citi At-Risk Women Financial Literacy Program
The Correctional Institution is grateful to the Citi Foundation and Kenan Institute Asia for providing financial literacy training to detainees. This aligns with our goal of providing corrections opportunities and developing new positive habits in the detention center. We believe the ‘At-Risk Women Financial Literacy’ program, provides positive encouragement to detainees, giving them a chance to learn, understand, and manage their daily lives after they are released. We fully support the project as a way to develop detainee capacities for the future.