I got a chance to join Asian Women Social Entrepreneurs Network Conference in Bangkok, Thailand from 22nd – 24th November 2016, and these are the three main advantages I got from the conference.
I have met like-minded people who are walking on the same journey like me with the same challenges and happiness at the same time. It reminds everyone in the conference that we’re actually not alone who try to work so hard in setting up a social enterprise and to fight with the culture that women cannot do many things like men do. Thus, I feel so motivated and energetic after joining the conference and even better, I met my first boss who employed me 10 years ago. Here’s the detailed story of me and my first boss 😀
One of the sessions I like the most including a discussion session focusing on “Passion & Success in the Business & Life” and another training session on “Social Media for Successful Social Entrepreneurship”, presented by Ms. Eileen Lui from SOYAI, Myanmar. For the discussion session, there were 3 speakers who are Ms. NGUON Chantha from Mekong Blue, Cambodia, Ms. Laina Raveendran Grenne, from Singapore, and Ms. Julia Chong, from Truly Loving Company, Malaysia, and the moderator Ms. Ruengrawee Pichaikul, from Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW), Thailand. The 3 speakers shared their experience in failures and how they can survive till these days. There are a few words from Ms. Julia that I still remember and those include:
- Always have a shoulder to cry on!
- Work with lean and hungry partner!
- Be prepared to sell your properties to invest in the business
- If you haven’t reached 5 years yet, do not feel upset when you have not reached your target. Try harder!
- Quality comes before charity which means we can’t do business by using social problem to do marketing without considering the quality of our products seriously.
- Always do GOOD!
I have never met Ms. Chantha in Cambodia before but through this conference, I realized that she has changed about 800 women’s lives by offering them jobs and around 200 children to go to school. When I questioned her how she managed her team to work smoothly for the past several years, she said it is because her co-founder is her husband, so basically they need to do their best to struggle through ups and downs together as they cannot separate their business as well as their lives. If business fails, life might fail too. I can feel how tough she has gone through to grow the business and at the same time to save the relationship with her husband. Whether we want it or not, when we run a business while having relationship with our cofounder, we will be hard in differentiating between personal and professional lives. Imagine you argue with your cofounder at work and when you come home you see the same person, how can you immediately change your mood to be very happy and welcoming to your loved one?
Reflection of my Social Enterprises
Since the first day of running businesses, I have always aimed to making changes to the community I am living in. Yet, maybe because I don’t communicate my values behind the businesses, everyone around me thinks it is just another type of business which does not provide any social benefits. Yet, this conference proves how my inoover and pengpos can make our communities into better places. Various judges from many competitions we joined usually said we are not social enterprises. However, my team don’t want to argue anything, and we will prove them wrong and how much impact we can contribute to community as we grow.
I was told by my Thai friend that their king Bhumibol Adulyadej who just passed away had a really strong commitment to implement AT LEAST ONE ROYAL PROJECT in ONE WEEK in order to serve his community and his country. As soon as I heard about that I totally understand why Thai people love their king really really much. There must be a lot of achievements he had done that his citizens feel so proud of such wonderful achievements.
To sum up, thank you so much, Impact Hub Phnom Penh for nominating me to join this meaningful conference! I am really looking forward to join more international workshops and conferences to learn from very experienced keynote speakers and share the same journey that women are taking.