Poonsap Suanmuang

Ashoka Fellow
Bangkok, Thailand
Fellow Since 1992

Citation

This profile was prepared when Poonsap Suanmuang was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Poonsap Suanmuang has developed a comprehensive program that addresses the problems of rural poverty, environmental awareness, and women's leadership structures on several levels. Poonsap is helping women to refine natural dying techniques and target markets for the hand-dyed products, generating much needed income for the women.

The women's environmental awareness is built into the process of learning about and gathering materials for dye stuffs, found mostly in the forest. As the women learn about the trees and plants in the forest, and the income potential they hold–a natural respect and appreciation develops. They become less willing to see the forest destroyed for their own or outside developers' short term economic gains.

Beyond this, the women learn leadership skills, gain the understanding of an organizational structure, and experience self-empowerment as they master a marketable craft. They take on the responsibility and leadership involved in the maintenance of their village cooperative and the marketing of their products.

Finally, through their marketing efforts, the women are educating consumers about the value of non-wood forest products as well as promoting and supporting a new consumer awareness.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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