Development of Overseas Market for Women’s Groups in Thailand
May 2, 2007
Borderline Women’s Collective, Gallery and Tea Garden, located in Mae Sot, Thailand began in 2004 with three women’s organisations seeking to establish a shared marketing space for women from Burma and others living along the Thai-Burma border to sell their hand made items. Located in Thailand, just across the border with Burma, Mae Sot has felt the impact of the Burmese military dictatorship since 1962. Due to repression and civil war, hundreds of thousands fled to Thailand for safety and work. In 2003, Borderline created a space where women’s groups could sell products, with a teashop, cooking classes, and an art gallery.
The purpose of the Borderline Women’s Collective is to build their capacity for running income generation projects by having a collectively managed market.
Since 2004 they have set up an intern programme whereby women learn about handicrafts and shop and gallery management; a product design workshop and they opened a tea shop that offers cooking classes and developed a cookbook with foods from different regions of Burma.
Borderline now wants to develop its overseas market to provide the women’s groups with more opportunities for sales and the chance to develop resources for their communities.
Borderline developed an overseas market to provide the women’s groups with opportunities for sales in order to develop their communities. It expanded their market in the following ways:
- Hired staff to support the development of Borderline’s overseas market. The staff liaised with customers as well as the women’s organizations in placing and filling orders.
- Developed a website that would exhibit the work of the women’s groups, and allow customers to make orders. The women’s groups benefited in 2 ways: 1) by the sales of their crafts, 2) by supporting Borderline as a continuing local marketing space.
- Linked with Fairtrade organizations in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan to develop new designs, markets as well as ongoing capacity development for the women’s organizations.
A new online overseas coordinator was hired to manage overseas orders. She has also been responsible for liaising with the women who make the crafts to understand the products and seek new products. The Borderline website was launched in 2007 with an online shop for products made by the groups’ women. To ensure its sustainability, Borderline members were trained in how to manage the website. Its membership grew from 4 to 10 groups, allowing for more crafts to be sold. The products sold well in 2007-2008 to the extent that some orders could not be met due to a shortage of materials.