How UK study tours inspired social innovation in Thailand

One part of the Thai tour took the delegates to the cabinet office © British Council

The UK has created a very supportive ecosystem for social enterprise which other countries are keen to study and adapt.

  • Success: Thai Social Enterprise Office
  • Industry: Social investment 
  • Country: Thailand
  • Key fact: National Social Enterprise Committee set up in Thailand

We organise UK social enterprise study tours for delegates from around the world. This is an opportunity for them to learn about the development and impact of social enterprise in the UK, giving them the opportunity to apply or adapt these practices back in their own countries.

In 2010, we arranged a tour for Thai government officials and reporters.

The study tour achieved its intended result. Upon returning, the Thai government set up a National Social Enterprise Committee, which included one British Council representative.

The Committee then proceeded to establish the Thai Social Enterprise Office (TSEO), an intermediary organization that facilitates the movement and expansion of social enterprise in Thailand. TSEO is delivering the country’s Social Enterprise master plan and has launched a 1 billion Baht fund (£18 million) to raise money from the public to finance operations of social entrepreneurs.

Since then, we have brought several other delegations of Thai business leaders and officials to look at how the social enterprise sector generates economic development in the UK.

In 2014, for instance we invited the chairman and executive vice president of the Thai stock exchange, the general secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission and business leaders of listed stock exchange companies to the UK. The aim of the tour was to learn about UK funding innovations such as social impact bonds and Big Society Capital, the world’s first social investment bank, which channels private capital for social good. 

Former Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva said: “Through cooperation with the British Council, Thailand has been fortunate enough to have access to experts in this field who are sharing their knowledge, resources and experiences to help grow the social enterprise sector in Thailand.” 

Our Thailand programme manager, Pasiwat Sutthirak, explains that our policy advocacy work is designed to make it easier for social enterprises in Thailand to secure the investment they need to grow into thriving businesses that can deliver large scale social impact.

He expects that they will also find it easier to work in neighbouring markets since the member countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), will form a common economic market in 2015. 

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