It is difficult to predict the challenges women face living in a land where they are almost invisible, especially as undocumented individuals without a Thai ID card.
However, the WE Inspire project has provided an opportunity to connect with and empower these women. Supported by the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and operated by Kenan Foundation Asia, this project aims to empower women in the region by offering them access to education, healthcare, and social support. Through this project, we have witnessed the emergence of diverse business dreams and goals and discovered lives that reflect their existence.
We had the pleasure of meeting participant Khun Pla – Alias name, a 23-year-old woman of Lao ethnicity from Wiang Kaen District in Chiang Rai Province. Pla joined the WE Inspire project with a keen interest in selling products through online channels. She shared, ‘Normally, I don’t get the chance to attend any training programs because I lack a Thai ID card as an undocumented individual.’ Through the training, Pla gained new valuable insights into life planning and financial management. She explained, ‘After attending the training, I learned to separate my expenses clearly. For example, I prioritize saving a portion of my income and allocate the rest towards necessary expenses, such as household costs, rent, and raw materials.’ Attending the training not only equipped her with practical skills for her business but also broadened her perspective on the world. Pla expressed, ‘The training opened my vision of the world and allowed me to observe what others were accomplishing. This gave me the courage to run my own business – a restaurant serving food cooked to order.’
At the same time, we had the pleasure of meeting Khun Somjai – alias name, a woman who happily joined the training in the WE Inspire project. She first learned about the project through the public relations of the village and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to participate. Before this, Somjai had never encountered a project that welcomed individuals without a Thai ID card, making her inclusion in this project even more meaningful. Somjai shared, ‘I was so happy to be a part of this project. This was the first project I had the opportunity to join. As an undocumented person without a Thai ID card, the project made me feel cared for and seen, whereas, in the past, I often felt invisible.’ Somjai is the owner of a seafood stand shop. She has successfully incorporated the knowledge gained from the training into her life, including anti-scam measures, problem-solving strategies for cheating incidents, effective cost management, and techniques for capturing appealing product photos. These skills have greatly enhanced her business operations, instilling confidence in her work.
The We Inspire project has helped to discover lives, and empowered individuals to keep moving. Pla, for instance, successfully launched her restaurant and has been serving customers for the past four months. She applies the knowledge acquired during the training to manage costs, wages, income calculations, and daily planning. Somjai, too, Impressed by the project’s useful insights. This year is the second year that she has continuously participated in the WE Inspire project. Somjai is interested in business planning because she wants to expand her business; she also is a speaker who inspires other project participants. She shared her knowledge with her husband and neighbors every time after joining the training, encouraging them to participate in the upcoming training.