Written by Mekong Institute  

The Mekong Institute (MI) in cooperation with the provincial government of Khon Kaen province successfully organized the 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching on “Enhancing Silk Sector’s Competitiveness in Technology and Market through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” on September 9-10, 2015 at Pullman Raja Orchid Hotel and Convention Center, Khon Kaen. The event aimed to introduce the best practices of CSR and provided a platform to showcase exquisite silk products and identify opportunities to engage with private companies for CSR outreach programs, as well as to enhance the capability and develop the potential of silk businesses in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), while sharing new technology of silk production systems and innovation of green supply chain. The seminar also incorporated a business matching activity with the goal of strengthening and expanding the network among silk entrepreneurs and businesses in some Northeastern provinces of Thailand, India, Japan and other GMS countries namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. The ultimate goal of this event was to equip the participating companies and communities with tools and knowledge to better compete in Asia and the world market. Moreover, the organizer of the event also developed a database of silk business owners-www.asiasilkbiz.com for business networking, to further enhance the competitiveness of silk business owners. The Asia Silk Alliance (ASA) was officially formed during the events with the discussion on the way forward of ASA that facilitating business networks and long-term cooperation among silk producers and exporters in Asia countries. Upon this, the ASA Declaration was announced, agreed and singed among the representatives from Cambodia, China. Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The leader of ASA is India, with the witness of the governor of provincial government of Khon Kaen, The Queen Sirikit Department of Sericulture (QSDS) and MI (Thailand) for signing of the Declaration.  

The 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching attracted a total of 207 participants, comprising of major silk brand owners and manufacturers, SME silk production groups, exporters and importers, intermediaries of silk products, leaders from silk-related government agencies, CSR experts and organizations, silk technologists and other entrepreneurs from different provinces of Thailand such as Roi-et, Khon Kaen, Mahasarakham, Kalasin, NakornRatchasima, Petchaboon, Chiang Mai, Mukdahan, Pitsanulok and Bangkok.

Ten speakers were invited to present during the two-day event. They were from Thailand’s Department of Sericulture, CSR Asia, ASEAN CSR network, silk manufacturers and exporters, designers and some other GMS organizations. These experts shared experience and knowledge on the following four aspects:

  • Technology, innovation and silk market development
  • Opportunities for CSR initiatives and CSR practices in the silk sector
  • CSR- related success stories

The business matching activity, both for CSR and silk sector matching has brought the opportunities for silk businesses in the region. Many possible cooperation and partnership were identified during the event. The participants exchanged the information on their business, various production technique and channels of distribution, as well as CSR initiative projects and activities. Product samples were given to both up-and-down stream entrepreneurs. Some tangible partnership has led to business negotiations and deals.

The silk business database – www.asiasilkbiz.com has drawn interests of the participants to the event as they can always search for seminar materials and other participant information. Registered members can also use the website as a platform for sharing and exchanging information and possibly fostering their relationship and business. Promotion \of this website and the database would result in greater coverage of silk businesses in this region.

The 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching yielded a satisfactory result. The evaluation has indicated that the international seminar and business matching activity were successful. The participants’ responses showed that they were neutrally satisfied about the event with a rate of 3.01 out of 4. The event scores in terms of effectiveness ranged from 3.07 to 3.25, indicating that the seminar was fully effective. Regarding the results on meeting its objectives, the event was scored between 3.11 to 3.31. Moreover, when compare this year’s results to the previous year, 40% increases in every part of the evaluation.

However, recommendations and suggestions were provided for further improvement based on three aspects; the event, E-sarn silk sector and Asia Silk Alliance (ASA). It is summarized as followings;

  • The international Event: Two models of the event next year were suggested. Firstly, on the theme of cultural tourism for silk sector in Asia with site visits. Secondly is Asia Silk Trade Fair or Asia Silk Expo 2016 which Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will be one of the main sponsors of the event.
  • E-sarn Silk Sector. Based on Porter’s five force analysis, it is found that E-sarn silk market is very attractive for competitors to compete for market share, therefore E-sarn silk entrepreneurs are required to emphasize on the bargaining for suppliers, also keep developing business strategic skills such as production standards, marketing and business communications.
  • Asia Silk Alliance (ASA). There are two phases of ASA road map; the introduction stage, the 1st phase of 6 months to 1 year plan, MI will facilitate ASA in working plan, database management and website at the introduction stage. Khon Kean provincial government and other units/ organizations introduced will take part to support ASA in the long-term working process.
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