Why was Pratthanadee set up?
Having spent a lot of time in Bangkok for business, our founder was struck by the choices that some women were forced to make in order to support themselves and their families. By providing free access to education, he felt that part of the problem could be alleviated. In 2000, he opened the charity, initially as a free English language school, but soon to grow into the personal and career development center we have today.
Who do you help?
We help underprivileged women in Bangkok and girls from poor backgrounds in Ubon Ratchathani.
In Bangkok, most of our students have come from the rural provinces of Thailand seeking work and are supporting not only themselves, but also their families. Our typical student:
- Never attended high school.
- Comes from one of the poor provinces of Thailand.
- Has parents or children to support.
- Has a low income.
- Sees further education as key to improving her job prospects.
What causes this situation for women?
Thailand’s rapid economic development has been predominately centred in the capital, Bangkok. The disparity in income between the city and the rest of the country is vast, with 80% of the country’s 7.3 million poor living in rural areas. Families in rural Thailand remain dependent on agriculture. As technological advances have increased productivity, employment opportunities have grown for men, but reduced for women.
At the same time, the emergence of Bangkok as a tourism and export hub has created new urban opportunities for women, who are perceived to be cheaper and less likely to unionize than men, in low-level service sector and factory line work. The cultural pressure to provide support for their families has led to a surge in rural to urban migration in young women looking for work.
30% of Pratthanadee’s women finished only primary level education, and the remainder only reached secondary level. They have no additional training, few marketable skills and little work experience.
On arrival in Bangkok, these women enter a competitive modern workforce, where they struggle to compete for even the lowest rung of formal employment. Employment opportunities are restricted to unskilled manufacturing and service-sector occupations, and the commercial sex sector is one of the few places where they can earn a good wage.
As a result, the women we work with tend to have got stuck in unstable and unregulated industries, exploited as cheap, easy and unprotected labor.
Why do you choose to help them?
We believe that, regardless of their background, hard-working women should be able to build a good life for themselves – where they are proud of their work, can support their families without compromising their own well-being, and look forward to a brighter future.
The underlying philosophy of our organization is best found in the words of Ruby Manikan:
“If you educate a man you educate a person, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.”
How do your programs create impact?
We empower underprivileged women and girls through free training in hard and soft skills so that they become more confident, independent, ambitious, and are likely to secure better jobs and higher salaries. We focus on women who have low level of education, are unemployed or in employment that is unstable, unsafe or underpaid; and girls from poor backgrounds, particularly from the northeastern part of the country
Through our training, our students have truly found their feet, their confidence and a sense of a home in Bangkok. We are excited by the impact we have had on the quality of life of young Thai women. A survey we conducted at the end of 2014 with over 60 of our graduates in Bangkok found that:
- 100% said they had gained a new skill
- 98% reported higher self-confidence
- 97% said their lives had changed for the better
- 45% saw their salary increase by an average of 30%.
What does 'Pratthanadee' mean?
Pratthanadee is a beautiful, often-used phrase in Thailand to wish people well – quite simply, to send them goodwill. It is fitting for us, as our motivation is exactly that, to capture the goodwill of donors, teachers and volunteers and transform it into effective training and an empowering community, serving the needs of underprivileged women and girls in Thailand.
You recently changed your name from the 'Goodwill Group Foundation', why is that?
Our former name was the same as that of a US charity group, which registered theirs ahead of us. To avoid creating confusion, we decided to revise our name to Pratthanadee.
Why do you have a branch in Ubon Ratchathani?
Having helped women in Bangkok, often from the Isaan region, since 2000, the Ubon office was set up in 2011 to provide a unique, replicable, and preventative approach to the issues the team saw many of these women facing – a lack of job opportunities, financial desperation, willingness to except low quality work, risk of exploitation and violence, and low self-worth and self-esteem.
By reaching young girls before they move to Bangkok, the mission of the Ubon office is to help prepare and support these girls for the future, by giving them the skills, knowledge and awareness they need to protect themselves and to make an economic success of their move to the city.
Who is your founder?
Our founder is Enrique Cuan, a banker who was based in Asia from 1995-2003. He is currently co-founder of Mercury Capital Advisors, a global financial services firm. He remains actively involved in Pratthanadee and spends 2-3 days a month with the team in Bangkok.
Do you ever turn away women?
We have had to turn away women in the past with university degrees earning a good income, who wanted to take part in our training. Our resources are limited and we are focused on underprivileged women and girls.
Unfortunately we have also had to turn away some women in the past, who were not legally in Thailand. We have had underprivileged women from Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in our training before. However, due to our government restrictions, we are only allowed to accept those who are holding a valid work permit.
How are you funded?
We do not receive any national government funding and so rely entirely on donations and grants to keep our programs running.
Our recurring expenses are covered by our founder Enrique Cuan and we receive additional funding from other individuals, organizations, businesses and embassies. As with many charities, we are always looking for new partners who can help us meet our costs and continue to grow.
How much do you spend annually?
Our annual budget ranges from $100,000 to $120,000 USD, which covers five full time staff and programs in both offices. We aim to create the greatest impact we can within this budget by working with a team of volunteer trainers.
Do many people donate?
Everything we spend originated from the generosity of our donors. We have hundreds of individual donors who support our work each year. Many have been donating to us over several years, some even started right when we began! Our operating expenses are low and so they know that their funding will be put to good use.
You can read some testimonials from our donors below:
“This charity has a powerful and vital mission, and is steadfast in its commitment to empowering disadvantaged women and girls. Importantly, Pratthanadee thinks big whilst understanding the detail of how to help each and every person that participates in its training. By their being rooted in delivering meaningful outcomes, I feel as a donor that my support is helping to improve the futures of individual women and girls, and contributing in a small way towards something even bigger and better for Thailand as a whole. I recommend Pratthanadee as an excellent steward of philanthropy and a charity that has a bold path towards delivering lasting impact.”
– A supporter in the UK (2016)
“I have links with Pratthanadee for a good number of years. I am very impressed with the work of Khun Beer and Khun Ann and staff. They are very professional and committed. I have done some relief teaching and supported a number of programs at Pratthanadee. It is a very successful organisation and it’s focus on disadvantaged Thai women is very purposeful. It has expanded it’s programs and achieved considerable success since it’s inception. I have found the students to be very appreciate of the opportunities they have been given.The students are a joy to teach. Very enthusiastic and engaged. The staff are caring and professional. They are always friendly and welcoming. I wish students and staff every success in the future.”
– A supporter in Australia (2014)
“I’ve been a donor to Pratthanadee since its early days, but being so far away it was difficult to fully appreciate what an amazing and positive impact it has on the students it serves. Now that I live in Bangkok, I have the opportunity to see that up close, and also witness the tireless dedication of its staff and other volunteers. It is especially impressive to see the foundation’s determination to focus on fundamental improvements to the student’s lives, such as by insisting on self-defense and first-aid courses as prerequisites before students can take the more attractive courses. The biggest endorsement I can give good Pratthanadee is that I now not only donate money, but I volunteer my time, which is more valuable to me.”
– A supporter in Thailand (2012)
Read more reviews here: http://greatnonprofits.org/org/pratthanadee-foundation
Who are your major donors?
We have been supported by ThaiBev, Starbucks Foundation, Inspirasia Foundation, Michelin Thailand, and Metropolitan by COMO Hotel plus many generous individuals. This year, we secured also funding for projects from the Canadian Embassy and the Australian Embassy.
Are you registered for tax efficient giving?
We are a registered 501c(3) tax exempt organization in the United States, and our tax registration in Thailand is currently pending.
Can I become a volunteer?
Thank you for asking! We rely on a supportive team of regular volunteers and often have openings. Please visit our dedicated volunteer page here.