Change Fusion “Match-maker” for social enterprises
22 December 2016
ChangeFusion: “Match-maker” for social enterprises “Promoter” who enhances computer skills of the digital generation
Social Enterprise (SE) is a business organisation which aims to create social sustainability by developing local communities and environment as well as devising solutions to problems for them rather than generating profits. The government earlier rolled out a policy to boost a social enterprise sector by setting up the Thai Social Enterprise Office (TSEO), a strategic agency to create factors which lead to the establishment of social enterprises in the country. However, the agency has been closed down in January, 2016, forcing Thai unfledged social enterprises to stand on their own feet as its direction remains vague.
ChangeFusion, an organisation working closely with social enterprises for decades, has experienced achievements of several social enterprises. The agency is aware of the need of a group of new generations who seeks the opportunity to land a job with social enterprises. Therefore, ChangeFusion has tried to perform as a mediator among social enterprises in order to encourage them to work together. Also, the agency is recently interested in enhancement of IT (Information Technology) skills and digital literacy among children and teenagers.
ChangeFusion deputy director Klaikong Vaidhayakarn recounted the beginning of the agency as a coordinator among social enterprise counterparts, saying “In the past, when we surf the internet, we found not much information in Thai language. Therefore, we wanted to see more Thai contents that don’t focus only on quantity but also quality and credibility with engaging presentation approach. We then created a common space where technology developers can meet each other in order to work together and exchange ideas. We have also worked with both public and private sectors relevant to technology development that faced technology-related problems. Besides, we have seen a large amount of state open data that benefit our work. If we can analyse which information can be applied to which problems, those data could be developed into useful innovation for the society,”
DoctorMe Application, an innovation of Opendream Co., Ltd., one of social enterprises associated with digital technology
One of the activities that ChangeFusion uses as a tool to encourage social enterprise partnerships to exchange their knowledge and work together is “BarCamp”, an informal seminar that welcomes all topics and experiences proposed by participants. The discussion will start after attendees vote on the most interesting topic. With this approach, participants will have the opportunity to exchange their experiences with others. It will help them open their mind to fresh ideas and new relationship as well.
Another constructive activity is “Hackathon” (Hack+Marathon), a competition on technology development under a specific theme and a limited duration given by an organiser. The event leads to various surprising results including website, infographic, animation, application and etc.
Atmosphere at the Thailand Big Data Hackathon 2015
Digital literacy is a requisite skill for the future as technology has played a pivotal role in human life. Therefore, ChangeFusion also turned to focus on enhancing this particular skill. The agency joined hands with the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) and Microsoft Thailand to support code.org Thailand’s activities which provide fundamental knowledge of computer science to children. Nevertheless, the joint cooperation has only resulted in events held occasionally in Bangkok and other provinces including Chiang Mai, Phuket and Khon Kaen. The agency’s operation is different from that in foreign countries in which volunteers will be recruited to help in such activities. Specific venues are as well available for volunteers and participants who always meet each other for discussion.
Mr Klaikong also expressed his opinion on this event, saying “We have never experienced this situation before. We found that computer operating system can be introduced to children at an early age, starting from simple games. For example, we told children to shadow tables in a paper we gave them and told their friends to move along those blackened tables. Moreover, learning about indices is important as it is a basic form of computer language. Besides, code.org Thailand also created learning programmes in pattern of simple games such as writing a programme to order a cartoon character walking up and down stairs or turning the light on,”
Today, the number of young people interested in learning technology has been growing but they might not have seen clear career paths in this field. Thus, ChangeFusion closed this loophole by coordinating with a-chieve, a social enterprise which provides career guidance to teenagers so they are able to see a clear direction to pursue further study. Young persons will be encouraged to advance their adept skills constantly so they will be ready to fit themselves into labour market in the future.
In Mr Klaikong’s view, even though children and teenagers today are digital natives, they are still only users who use digital technology. Therefore, in order to enhance their potential, all schools in Bangkok and other state-run institutions nationwide should incorporate computer science into curriculum for students at their early age. The courses centring on logical thinking, writing computer code and computer operating systems will help advance ability of the digital natives.
“We are only a small organisation. Therefore, we maybe start cooperation with computer club in some school as a pilot project first. At least, we hope computer science should be incorporated into elective subjects in every school,” Mr Klaikong added.