Social business key to ending poverty

Social business key to ending poverty

Social businesses deserve to be promoted in Thailand as they will contribute to the eradication of poverty, a representative of the European Union to Thailand said on Thursday.

Giuseppe Busini, the chargé d'affaires of the European Union Delegation to Thailand, encouraged the government to tackle poverty-related issues through social business.

"It [social business] can play an important role. It is a hybrid between traditional private business and NGOs. It is a non-dividend company created to address and solve social problems. Its main objective is to have a social impact rather than making a profit," Mr Busini said adding the EU is ready to work with all partners, including Thailand, on the eradication of indigence.

"The EU is the largest provider of development funding in the world. We are a strong partner of Asean and an advocate of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All our projects are bound to the SDG framework. It is our commitment to ending poverty," he told a forum on the contribution of social business to meeting the SDGs.

The event was held at the College of Management at Mahidol University to mark the international day for the eradication of poverty.

Mr Busini said Thailand has reduced the number of people living in poverty but that it still exists in various forms and remains an acute problem.

"Some 7.2% of the population lives under the poverty line. If we consider those who survive above the threshold, it is around 15%. A Swiss bank (Credit Suisse Group) published a report [in 2018] saying that Thailand was the most unequal country in the world. 1% of its population owns more than 66% of the national wealth. In addition, there is a regional dimension. The poorer north and northeast regions lag behind Bangkok and Central Thailand," he said.

Margaret Tongue, the chargé d'affaires of the British Embassy in Bangkok, said social enterprises can generate a positive impact for the whole value chain.

"It can offer employment to the marginalised population and distribute profit. To illustrate, Anticon has created long-term sustainable jobs for autistic adults. Some 90% of its employees were out of jobs before they started to work with the company. It is intensive work, but once they are in the job, they are able to open up," she said.

Ms Tongue said the British government has pushed for social enterprises, which has led the country to rank third in the world when it comes to the development of social enterprise according to Thomson Reuters.

"Our government introduced social enterprise policies in 2002. We developed strategies involving five departments to find new ways to fund social business. … Whether it is in the UK, Thailand, or elsewhere, the challenge is to get investment," she said.

Meanwhile, Jintana Chanbamrung, the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, said Thailand is following the UK's model of social business.

"We are the second country in Asia to pass the social enterprise act. Those who registered with us will receive benefits. It will provide various support to social entrepreneurs, such as funding, easing the purchasing system, and tax exemption," she said.

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