Remarks of the Resident Coordinator in Thailand at the Impact Venture Dialogue on 3 September 2020

The remarks of the Resident Coordinator in Thailand at the Impact Venture Dialogue on 3 September 2020

It is my pleasure to join you today for the first Impact Venture Dialogue with Social Entrepreneurs from Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. And many thanks to UNDP for their leadership in bringing social entrepreneurs from across the region together to kickstart this process of learning beyond borders. 

The genesis for this dialogue goes back to the first few months of my arrival in Thailand, when I was meeting with a small cross section of social entrepreneurs to understand the eco-system and their role in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. 

I was particularly impressed that social entrepreneurs in Thailand, who are often young people, using technology-based solutions for social good, and at the same time, contributing to prosperity for those in need, such as the elderly, differently abled people, small farmers, and marginalized groups. These enterprises, as you are aware, are often premised on principles of social justice while focusing on people at risk of being left behind. Therefore, you are key partners in UN’s work towards advancing the SDGs. 

Earlier this week, the UN along with the Global Compact Network in Thailand had brought the top business leaders together to discuss how best the private sector could support and commit to advancing the SDGs in this decade of action. The Prime Minister of Thailand had participated at this event. At the meeting, I made a strong case for the government and the private sector to engage in a more robust manner with social entrepreneurs, like yourselves.

I believe that your passion, drive and commitment is extremely critical for countries in progressing the SDGs and setting the trend for a new business model that champions justice, equality, equity and inclusion. 

I also believe that engaging with young social entrepreneurs, like yourselves, will be critical to find innovative solutions to break the dependence on carbon-intensive lifestyles, while also finding solutions to development challenges of today, including the response to the COVID pandemic.

You are at the top of a trend that is key to sustainability and the attainment of the SDGs. Being at the forefront of any movement, has its challenges. You are paving the way for future generations of social entrepreneurs, who will benefit and learn from your experience.  

UNDP has a special role to play within the UN system on this issue. They are not only prioritizing promoting social entrepreneurship and facilitating dialogue with impact investors, but also acting as a bridge to make the connection with established social enterprises from other countries in the region. This will foster mutual collaboration, and support expansion of business opportunities beyond borders.

I am also very keen for UNDP to support the development of an app for social enterprises to track their contributions to SDGs. This will serve to boost the credibility of social enterprises, while also enabling them to leverage funding from impact investors.   

This programme is taking place at a very critical time for the world during the pandemic, which has affected our economic stability. In the short term, income losses will result in increased economic insecurity and a shrinking middle class, leading to more people becoming vulnerable. In this context, fostering Social-Entrepreneurship has never been more relevant. 

Social Entrepreneurs are critical to our response and recovery from the COVID crisis as they help solve market gaps by serving excluded and vulnerable populations which are most at risk to impacts of the pandemic. 

I would like to conclude by wishing you the very best in the leadership of your social enterprises. I am looking forward to hearing from you how best the UN can continue to support you in the future and understanding how your contributions are making countries and the world a prosperous, peaceful and sustainable place. 

Gita Sabharwal
Resident Coordinator
Ms Gita Sabharwal
United Nations
United Nations Development Programme