As the secretary of Khlong Lad Pachee’s business cooperative, Mr. Thammasak Maknakorn manages the business operations for the community’s chili sauce and processed mushroom producers. The community has a long tradition of cultivating local ingredients to make these healthy and tasty products for markets in Bangkok. Given the rising healthy lifestyle trend in Thailand, Mr. Thammasak has been trying to connect the cooperative’s products to this lucrative niche market; however, he has found that the cooperative lacks the financial sophistication and marketing know-how to compete with local boutique and international brands.
Like many small businesses, the enterprises within the Khlong Lad Pachee cooperative struggled to properly balance their statement of cash inflow and outflow, leading them to take on excessive debt and liability. With mounting interest payments, the cooperative was unable to adapt their products for more lucrative markets. Compounding matters, the cooperative had no background in marketing, which became a significant barrier when trying to penetrate the healthy lifestyle market as these consumers tend to demand well-presented products, meaning marketing elements such as packaging significantly influence purchasing decisions.
Facing hurdles to growing the cooperative’s businesses, Mr. Thammasak jumped at the opportunity to join Kenan and Citi Foundation’s Financial Skills Building for a Secure Financial Future Project in October 2016. Through the project, Mr. Thammasak discovered solutions to the cooperative’s chief barriers: poor financial systems and limited marketing knowledge.
Low-income workers, young adults, and farmers have the lowest levels of financial literacy in Thailand. Kenan and Citi Foundation have worked diligently with government, private sector, and other stakeholders to develop solutions to Thailand’s financial literacy dilemma. For over ten years, we have developed the financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills of teachers, farmers, students and at-risk women who struggle with low income and instability in their careers so they can manage their income efficiently and become economic change agents within their communities. These learner-centered financial education programs have enabled thousands to understand how money works, supporting their economic empowerment.
Since completing the training, Mr. Thammasak has begun installing sustainable financial practices into the cooperative’s enterprises and developing innovative marketing strategies to make the cooperative’s products more attractive healthy lifestyle consumers. The knowledge and mindset shift has already paid dividends as the businesses are now in the process of cutting extraneous costs and paying off their debt. Once the cooperative’s finances are balanced, Mr. Thammasak plans to invest in other small businesses and continue to solidify a sustainable future for the people and enterprises in the Khlong Lad Pachee community.