Developing a community enterprise consultant network for Isan.

Author:Chantarasombat, Chalard
 
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INTRODUCTION

It is necessary to support and encourage knowledge creators and scholars who apply knowledge in creating added value and competitiveness for the purpose of enhancing the value and pleasantness of Thai society. This can be achieved by applying the 5 principles of Buddhism (Kan 5) which are; Morality, Knowledge, Righteous Economy, Righteous Government and Strong Society. This is in congruence and also with Thailand's 10th national economic development plan (2001 -2005). The vision is to have a society that is peaceful and united. A society where Thai citizens are content and have comprehensive knowledge, up to date with global knowledge, have a warm pleasant family, strong community, peaceful society, quality economy, sustainability, healthy environment and sustainable resources Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, 2005.

The Department of Industrial Promotion has been in the process of creating and developing community enterprise networks. The target of development are Small and Medium (SME) community enterprises and also small scale business ventures. The Department of Industrial Promotion provides support and development by giving advice, training and development to primary community enterprises. The service is provided by the officer of The Department of Industrial Promotion. The need for creating quality consultants is in consistence with the rising demands from communities in need of the department's services which are rural community enterprises.

Building and Development of Community Networks for Self-reliance by Chantarasombat (2003) utilized Research and Development techniques along with adapting Participatory Action Research with local researchers from rural communities revealed new knowledge in creating and developing self reliant community networks.

It is essential to create and develop a network of community enterprise consultants in order to provide service in both quantity and quality to meet the increasing demands from the numerous community enterprises within Thai society. Therefore the Research Unit and Community Development and Knowledge Management Team, Faculty of Education,

The need to develop community enterprise networks is essential to the unity and development of community enterprises and entrepreneurs. This is consistent with Putnam, (1994), who research on creating social networks which hypothesized on the factors needed to create a valuable social network. Putnam's results revealed that participatory action from community members can easily be harnessed if social capital can be created and sustained within the community. Social capital is all that is required to empower the community into doing any amount of development activity. Social capital is comparable to moral resources which is sustainable and infinite. At the same time, this Nesources is meaningless if not applied just like other types of material resources. The most important of resource is human resources and the importance the motiviation of human resources is essential in the development of other fields (Sharghi et al. 2010) a network of Thai society can help create social capital which will bestow quality communication and exchange of knowledge between social groups. Social capital can help create a quality life, spiritual processes and is an alternative social development process that provides knowledge and sustainability to any society.

The purpose of the research: (1). Study the current situation, problems and needs of the community enterprises, The provision of appropriate services, Data collection and related research materials to form a base for the development project. (2) Create a benchmark process in the selection of participating entrepreneurs, consultants and to create tools in the selection process to be more effective. (3) Plan to create community enterprise networks in partnership with government branches, private businesses and the general public which will lead to public relations and expansion of communication channels through personal exchanges and other mediums. (4) Provide training and necessary knowledge for community enterprise consultants and create an electronic information database for the consultant network. (5) To create standards, regulations and principles in service standards, fees, coordination, public relations, work process and evaluation of the network of consultants.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The research area included communities in Northeast Thailand that have community enterprises and active consultants. The target of at least 50 consultants where to be selected to participate in the pilot project. The research area was divided into three zones; Upper Northeast Thailand consists of Nong Khai, Udon Thani, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Loei, Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom. Central Northeast Thailand is comprised of Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Roi Et. Lower Northeast Thailand include Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, Yasothon and Amnat Charoen. The research project was conducted from July 14th to September 10th 2009.

Developing Community Enterprise Consultant Network for Northeast Thailand is a Participatory Action Research (PAR). Data collection was performed by document analysis and study of related research studys and articles and field data gathered from organizing training on community analysis and development of community enterprises by providing both academic and hands on field training. Experimental research projects were also performed on analyzing community enterprises in communities in Kaeng Loeng Chan sub-district, Muang district, Maha Sarkham province. 3 community enterprises were chose which include the Artificial Flower making group at Moo 5, Textile Weaving group in Moo 4 and Barbwire making group at Moo 15. Support and training were also provided for the pilot development project by assigning 1 activity to each community enterprise zone which include; The Golden Fragrant Rice group at the village of Bank Khok Sa-ard at Non Sang district in Nong Bua Lam Phu province (Upper Northeast), Khao Klong Community Rice Mill group at Moo 11, Huarua sub-district, Wapipatum district, Maha Sarakham province (Central Northeast), Pradhok Vermicelli (rice noodles) of Muenwai sub-district, Muang district, Nakhonratchasima province (Lower Northeast1)...

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