Locals know him as the Satay King.
But in 2007, Siripattana Sangduan was just another street vendor in Bangkok, Thailand. He’d recently taken over his family’s kiosk selling satay.
“Business was slow. He would sit on the street waiting for customers,” says EDC’s Angela Chen. Then Sangduan was chosen to participate in EDC’s Hewlett Packard Entrepreneurship Learning Program (HELP).
He improved his computer skills and learned accounting. He came to understand the value of marketing.
“Sangduan took risks in his new business proposal,” says Chen.
He packaged his satay and labeled it Tao Gae Noi (or “little boss”). He added noodles and rice to the menu, and began to sell them with his Tao Gae Noi in two new shops he opened at nearby malls.
“I focused on my product’s strength and redesigned it to fit client needs,” he recalls.
Sangduan is just one small business owner from a low-income community in the Asia-Pacific region chosen to attend a training session at a Micro-Enterprise Development Center. There are 48 such centers run by 48 nongovernmental organizations in 10 countries. EDC operates two centers in Thailand.
In addition to training would-be entrepreneurs, EDC’s Asia office also stands out as a HELP “Center of Excellence,” chosen in 2007 to oversee all the centers by encouraging networking, managing grants, monitoring activities, and more.
“EDC reviews all the proposals from the centers and from them selects grant winners for money and computers from HP,” says Chen. “We also provide classes, from introductory business to accounting to computer skills.”
As the organization managing the local centers, EDC provides two capacity-building courses to the trainers. One course is called Smarter Technology for Smarter Businesses (STSB). The second, a new class called Graduate Entrepreneurship Training through Information Technologies (GET-IT), follows a curriculum designed by EDC. GET-IT is geared toward young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 16 and 25, who may have no business experience, but who plan to start up new ventures.
Another participant named Suwanna Onwantha had attempted unsuccessfully to start up a children’s clothing business before joining HELP.
“Looking back, I was trying to thrive in a declining children’s clothing industry,” says Onwantha. HELP allowed her to enter another, less competitive market that was gaining interest among shoppers in Thailand: the business of making clothing for dogs.
“I attended a comprehensive one-year program, which included business analysis, seminars, finance, and computer trainings, as well as business consultation,” Onwantha recalls.
Today, shortly after completing HELP, her dog clothing business produces 3,600 dog garments a day—a success matched by her former classmate Sangduan, the Satay King.
HELP not only increased Sangduan’s revenue tenfold, it encouraged him to set a new goal: To eventually sell his Tao Gae Noi abroad.
“I learned how to create a business plan that changed the way I run my business entirely,” he says. “I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
Originally published on January 29, 2010