07 Jan 2022
The Sasin Research Seminar series continues with a talk by Dr. Yupin Patarapongsant. The University to Tambon: U2T (Integrated Sub-district Economic and Social Upgrading Project) at Sasin is an ongoing initiative that began in early 2021. The talk started with a brief overview of the project and its aims at building the integrated development approaches for the community. These activities connect with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1 (no poverty), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 12 (responsible consumption and production). Dr. Yupin briefly introduced a global initiative by marketing academics called ‘Better Marketing for a Better World’ (BMBW), which has been developed to disseminate knowledge on how marketing can improve lives and benefit communities. She then moved to what is happening in Thailand with the University to Tambon project (U2T) by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many graduates became unemployed and have moved back to their hometowns. U2T has 3000 projects throughout Thailand, and each one employs ten newly unemployed graduates, five locals without jobs and five undergrad students who work together on the sub-district issues. This is achieved by utilizing existing knowledge, technologies, and innovations, coordinating with local administration and other relevant organizations, with the ultimate goal of poverty mitigation. Next, Dr. Yupin introduced the three projects she has been working with for the last eleven months. These are located in Bang Lamphu Lang, Klong San, Bangkok; Kho Nua, Muang, Yasothon; and Rata Pan Yang, Yaring, Pattani. The U2T Bang Lamphu Lang project is located opposite of Asiatique, in the old city of Thonburi. Activities to revitalize the sub-district, such as upgrading tourism services and investigating other sources of income, have been performed to help the community. The key team members working on the project lived locally. The developmental prototype by the project was presented to the Prime Minister of Thailand at the opening ceremony of the National Science Week in 2021. Dr. Yupin then explained the problems and solutions in more detail, discussing key partners, activities, resources, communication channels, and revenue streams. The main stakeholders are the government, SASIN School of Management, Chulalongkorn University, local communities, and related ministries. The aim is to create interest and income for the sub-district by promoting things like the 200-year-old temples located there, the famous morning market, street art, and local performances since Ayuthaya. The methods of sharing this information through maps, technology platforms, YouTube channels, social media, and apps were also discussed. The next project, in Kho Nua, Muang, Yasothon, in North-eastern Thailand, is not well known and has been promoted as a second-tier province. For this project, the team has worked with the Nong Ung area Development Project of the Royal Initiative. Dr. Yupin explained more about the area, which is very agricultural, and who they worked with. The Royal Project already has several products, such as scalloped mushrooms, under the Wanathip brand. Working with the project, Dr. Yupin and her team improved the brand’s packaging and looked at distribution channels. They also brought an application called Ricult to the area to help with Agricultural planting. The team also helped with a group of housewives and farmers weaving silk-cotton fabrics with their local Thai silk brand packaging. The team developed a half day trip map, social media content, and a YouTube channel publicized the initiative. The final project is based in Rata Pan Yang, Yaring, Pattani, in Thailand’s deep South where majorities are Muslim. Again, this involved a lot of agricultural initiatives. These initiatives help locals develop skills and products that will bring money to the area’s communities. The project also ensured that locals were equipped to deal with problems arising from Covid-19 with access to things like masks, alcohol sprays, and medicine. Dr. Yupin discussed some of the main issues facing the region concerning the pandemic and what the initiative is doing to help. The project team also shared marketing knowledge to help with the branding of local products such as palm sugar, mushrooms, and purple sweet potatoes. The talk wrapped up with an overview of how teams were contacted and what stakeholders in the regions can do to help. This involved the process, inputs, outputs, and goals. Next year’s targets for U2T are on BCGs – Bioeconomy, Circular Economy, and Green Economy. This was followed by a Q&A session where topics discussed included how these projects will continue without help from Sasin, what the communities can do to continue with the initiatives, and how the government is promoting more of these projects.
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