Changing Lives, Changing Communities: How the Mae Fah Luang Foundation Inspired Us to Change the World

Date: 3/23/2010
Time: 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Location: The Puck Building, The Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, 2nd Fl.
295 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012-9604  map

An Exciting Event on Becoming Global Social Entrepreneurs and Learning from Experts in the Field.

For decades, traditional slash and burn agriculture and commercial opium cultivation were common practices in the Doi Tung region on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Although trade in narcotics is extremely lucrative, farmers who grow the crop in Doi Tung received meager shares. The economic situation was so grave that many become dependent on opium cultivation for survival and young girls were often driven to prostitution. To address these problems, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation (MFLF) created the Doi Tung Development Project to eradicate the illicit economy by providing alternative and sustainable livelihoods, from agriculture and handicrafts to tourism and foods. The project re-invests profits into the community’s social development and has improved the quality of life for the local people significantly in the past 20 years. In 2009, the Secretary General of the MFLF, M.R. Disnadda Diskul, was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship for his leadership. 

 Also in 2009, four NYU students from Wagner’s Advanced Social Entrepreneurs class traveled with their professor, Dr. Ellen McGrath, to visit the Doi Tung Development Project in Thailand, where they spent two weeks learning from the Mae Fah Luang Foundation.  They were so moved and inspired by the experience, that they decided to collaborate and write a book about the Foundation and how they could apply the lessons they had learned on their trip to their social entrepreneurial efforts back home.  And because the trip was so successful, a group of NYU students will be returning to Thailand this May through a new Global Social Entrepreneurship Field Study course.

 Please join us to learn more about the inspiring work of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and to celebrate the growing partnership between the MFLF and NYU! M.L. Dispanadda Diskul, Director of the MFLF Center for Social Entrepreneurship, will discuss the Foundation’s approach to economic development in Thailand and other projects around the world and will share some of their keys to success. The students will share some of the highlights from their experiences and the recently published book will be available for sale.