YMCA, as a non-profit, non-governmental Christian organization, established since 1969, has been working for human, social and community development. Its activities focus on people-centered development and the building of a healthy, sustainable society towards good governance, and the social-cultural and economic well being of all people. The development areas focus on women and youth’s development, education, health care, environment improvement and child rights protection. To achieve the goal, Chiangmai YMCA set up many community development projects to provide the assistance on grass root level, minority groups, and particularly to women in all provinces of Northern Thailand. One of these projects is handicraft production. The majorities of producers who produce handicrafts live in the rural regions of Northern Thailand, and belong to the poor and socially, economically disadvantaged of society, and many of them lack of self-confidence and feel that they don’t have enough knowledge, skills and experience to successfully start with the production and trade of handmade goods.
Chiangmai YMCA then set up Y.Development Cooperation Company Limited or “YC” in 1986. It was a result of the requests made by producers to assist them in export handicraft production and marketing. We provide access to both local and export markets, which increase selling opportunities and therefore income earning potential for producers. During the past 20 years we have been providing various activities for producers to improve their skill and knowledge such as training courses on principle of fair trade, book keeping, cost calculation, designing and skills. Our extensive training offers them increased self-confidence through self-employment. Most of them are now financially independent and able to stand up for their individual rights. As mentioned earlier, the majority of our producers are women. For many years, we have helped these women to become skillful craftsmen or producers of organic products, and it has assisted them in small scale entrepreneurship and trade. It can be observed that the assistance and training which was provided by us, have raised the awareness of the women for their rights and have increased their confidence and self-respect. Many of them have established their own little enterprises and are now financially more independent and equipped with better communication skills which are needed to advocate their rights.
We endeavors to ensure suitable working conditions for handicraft producers by insisting on a healthy and safe working environment, and through constant examination and evaluation of work-related issued such as wages and working hours. We also encourage producers to use environmentally friendly production methods such as minimizing the use of harmful industrial chemicals. We take care that the workers receive an adequate wage, and we try to improve the work environment of the craftsmen by paying attention to their safety and health.