Organized by SCG Foundation in cooperation with Asoka Innovators for the Public (Thailand), the Young Social Entrepreneur Program takes young people aged 18-30 interested in pursuing a career in social work to learn more about it in differing areas in Thailand. They are then given opportunities to make use of the practical hands-on experience gained to initiate their own benevolent projects. This enables them to become the next generation of highly capable social activists.
The program, which has continued since 2005 included two phases. In phase one, 19 youths aged 18 to 30 with experience and determination to do social work were selected to participate in the program. They were divided into 4 groups to work in 4 different areas:
1. The Cultivating Lanna Wisdom group to study the way of life of people in Lanna
2. The Love Nan group to study natural resource preservation through community cooperation
3. The Thai Youth News Center group to study the work of the young press
4. The Friends of Service Workers Group to study the work of night service workers.
Each group subsequently shared the knowledge and experience gained with other groups.
In phase two, with hands-on experience working in the areas and training on techniques and processes useful for managing a benevolent project, the youths were given opportunities to initiate a philanthropic project, funded by SCG Foundation. In 2007, various projects were carried out including:
1. Bridge of Life
2. Nurturing a New Generation
3. Social Activist Community
4. Community Classrooms
SCG Foundation and Asoka Innovators for the Public (Thailand) made a fieldwork visit every month to keep track of the project progress and to collect useful information for use in developing the Young Social Entrepreneur Program.
Results It was found that the program achieved its objectives in developing young social activists into social entrepreneurs.
The youths undergoing this program differed from other youths in that they possessed the ability to develop self-reliance and were capable of devising strategies for developing the morality and quality of life to be social entrepreneurs. It is hoped that young people would learn to develop their inner self alongside developing their traits and personality.
The participating youths have learned that to make a project successful, it is important that:
1. The project must define shared objectives, set a short-term and long-term plan, and communicate them to all involved parties.
2. The project must possess a participatory learning process and integrate knowledge in an economic, social, and environmental context.
3. The project must have an ongoing monitoring system, for example, a mentor mechanism to provide advice and encouragement to the youths.
SCG Foundation will use the lessons learned to further develop the Young Social Entrepreneur Program.