From the start, Princess Srinagarindra was aware that in order to be sustainable, development and social entrepreneurship should not be based on sympathy. “Don’t let people buy our products out of pity”, she remarked. As a result, the DoiTung brand has ensured that its products are of high quality, even those based on folk crafts such as weaving.
Navuti Company was set up in 1989 as a partnership between the public and private sectors and the local people, making it one of the first corporate social responsibility endeavours in Thailand.
In 1990, the vocational training centre for sewing and weaving, now known as the Cottage Industry Centre and Outlet, was established, with products being sold at the first Mae Fah Luang store in Doi Tung (now known as DoiTung Lifestyle).
DoiTung products focus on the selection of innovative and high quality raw materials to complement sustainable production methods, based on the philosophy that is central to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation – the integration of local knowledge and wisdom, or the skills and traditions of ethnic minorities at Doi Tung, with professional business practices. The primary goal is job creation, with profits being ploughed back into the community to enhance health and education of the people and improve the environment. The final result is that the people are taken from a world of day to day survival mode to one of full economic and social sustainability. Meanwhile, customers are able to purchase quality products and services, knowing that their money is going towards a worthy cause.
The social entrepreneurship efforts have also resulted in financial independence for the villagers who are now able to send their children to complete higher education. It also brings the younger generation back to the villages with the greater job opportunities available, curbing the need for urban migration, meaning that families are now reunited.
In 2009, Mom Rajawongse Disnadda Diskul, Chairman of Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Initiative, was recognized as “Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Region of East Asia” by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, which “seeks to identify, recognize and disseminate initiatives in social entrepreneurship that have significantly improved people’s lives and have the potential to be replicated on a global scale.”